Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Giovanni Maria de Agostini

From Smithsonian:
About 50 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Hermit Peak rises some 10,000 feet amid the pinyon-juniper woodland of the Pecos Wilderness. The hermit for which it was named was an Italian-born monk, Giovanni Maria de Agostini. For three years in the 1860s, Agostini lived high up on the mountain, foraging for food and getting water from a spring. Despite his self-imposed solitude he managed to attract a following during an era of religious fervor and experimentation in America. At the end of the 19th century, a local organization created in his honor, the Sociedad del Ermitaño, or the Society of the Hermit, counted 62 members. Their main practice was a long trek to the peak to pray and erect crosses. 
Today, the Society of the Hermit’s solemn tradition has faded almost to the vanishing point, and might be lost entirely if not for one family. “I go to Mass on Sundays and I take my kids, but I feel closer to God praying in that cave, remembering that my uncle used to be right here and my grandpa used to be right here,” said Joseph Abeyta, a 36-year-old resident of Las Vegas, New Mexico. There are a handful of other Society members still in the area, but this past September, the Abeytas were the only ones who made the trek to Hermit Peak. The photographer Gabriel Ellison-Scowcroft accompanied the family to document this unique rite of faith. (Read more.)
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