A former policeman has started his new job as the resident hermit in a gorge near the Swiss town of Solothurn.
Daum is German and a divorced father of four, who left the police in
1984, after which he studied theology and meditation.
He is required to
live (rent-free) in solitude in the idyllic Verena gorge, yet also
mingle with tourists.
He will receive about CHF2,000 ($2,000) per month
for the job.
Daum’s duties include keeping the gorge and its
surrounding chapels clean, and assisting with events such as weddings
and baptisms, as well as advising day-trippers.
The position of
hermit was created in the 15th century in honour of St Verena, who is
said to have lived as a recluse in a cave in the region. The Verena
Gorge is believed by some to hold mystical powers related to its
The last hermit, Sister Benedicta, quit after only two
years in office. She had received death threats and clashed with the
Solothurn authorities over the role of the hermitage.
predecessor left the job after complaining about the number of tourists
who visit the hermitage and chapel.
It was important for the Solothurn
authorities that the new hermit was sociable enough to get along with
curious tourists and locals.