was one of about 70 candidates from the United States, India,
Australia and several other countries who applied for the unpaid
position at one of Europe's last hermitages.
The job advertisement specified the candidate must be at peace
with oneself" and "a connection to Christian belief".
The 350-year-old Roman Catholic hermitage, in the province of
Salzburg, has no power, no running water and no heat. But it
does have stunning views of a snow-covered glacier.
The 40-square-metre (431 square foot) dwelling is carved into a
steep rock face 1,001 meters above sea level.
In his new life, Vanutrecht must climb down and than back up an
elevation of 250 meters (820 ft) to fetch water.
But Sitting on a bench in the early summer sun in front of his
chapel, he radiated the serenity of a man who has found all he
Puffing on a tobacco pipe and looking out across the
Kitzsteinhorn glacier, he said the job ad changed his life.
"I saw an ad on the internet saying that Saalfelden was looking
for someone to replace the outgoing anchorite," Vanuytrecht
said. "I immediately thought this would be the perfect place for
me, but I never thought I'd have a chance."
Alois Moser, Saalfelden's Catholic priest, and mayor Erich
Rohrmoser, who posted the vacancy, said the idea was born out of
Usually, the Saalfelden hermit lives in the chapel for many
years and finds a successor himself. But the most recent hermit
unexpectedly decided to leave after only one eight-month season
last November, Moser said.
"We seriously considered seven or eight candidates we talked to
and to whom we showed the hermitage," Moser said. "But when we
saw Stan, we knew that he is the one. He was so calm and
The applicants were told not to expect complete seclusion as
many visitors come to the hermitage to enjoy the view, to pray
and to talk.
Vanuytrecht is prepared, with a glass of schnapps for hikers and
a piece of cake for children always on hand. In his hut, behind
the little kitchen, he has a small chapel to which he can lead
people wanting to confide in him in private.
"I enjoy talking to visitors during the day," he said,
scratching his dog Jeanne. "At night and early in the morning I
have enough time for myself."
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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