New Camaldoli Hermitage

New Camaldoli Hermitage

New Camaldoli Hermitage (officially called Immaculate Heart Hermitage) is a rural Camaldolese Benedictine hermitage in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur, California that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The hermitage was founded in 1958 by two hermits from Italy searching for a site that combined solitude and natural beauty. It is located at an altitude of approximately 1,300 feet (400 m), and is approached by a winding two-mile road, which gives the visitor a clear view of the spectacular landscape.


Daily Life

Approximately twenty monks live and work at the hermitage. Each monk lives in a small cottage, called a "cell," which is divided from its neighbors by a high wall, and includes a small garden. Weekday prayers begin with vigils at 5:30 A.M. and conclude with vespers at 6 P.M. Labors include a guest ministry, retreats, a bakery, a book store, cooking and writing.


The hermitage makes and ships their own fruitcake based on a recipe developed by the monks. The proceeds help to support the hermitage.


Retreatants are welcome and over 150,000 people have made retreats at the hermitage. Rooms for men and women are available as well as separate hermitages for longer retreats. Normally all retreats are silent and non-directed.


The rugged and striking beauty of the site is not without peril. Route 1--the famed Pacific Coast Highway, which provides the only access by car--has been closed for months at a time by mudslides, and collapsed entirely in 1998. The hermitage was spared from destruction several times by forest fire; in 1999, the monks were ordered to evacuate as the fire grew closer. El Niño rains, high winds and continuing seismic activity have further damaged buildings. The hermitage is now in the process of rebuilding several older buildings in need of repair.

External links

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