lipprose Werner Nolte über mittelalterliche Architektur und Geschichte
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Sociable hermits

Psychologists define loneliness as one of our biggest nightmares. However, in many cultures and at all times, there have been people seeking solitude, on mountains, in deserts or in swamps, for prayer, meditation, and asceticism. It may therefore seem strange that there have been some "dropouts" who, after some time, and for whatever reason, wanted to remain hermits but still live in a community. The squaring of the circle.
For this predicament, fourth-century hermitism as the earliest form of Christian monasticism in the West found answers, the traces of which we - rarely - can find in architecture. In Asturias, in a pre-Romanesque structure, I came across this phenomenon in the form of the cámera oculta.
Asturien 5785.modAP2
Only through this window does San Pedro de Nora have access to a closed space above the choir. Such spaces can also be found in Visigothic architecture.
S.Pedro.Asturien 5787modAP2
The purpose of this has not been explored, most experts say. However, in his "Early Middle Ages", Barral i Altet provides a clue that is thought-provoking: hermits in extreme retreat might have lived there, in the midst of normal monastic life.
That would be a counterpart to Irish-Scottish hermit monasteries of the fifth and sixth centuries and the walled-in cells of medieval churches in England. The "movement" would culminate in the charterhouses of Bruno of Cologne in the eleventh century.
Translation: Erik Eising

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