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Bahamas: Mount Alvernia Hermitage

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Mount Alvernia Hermitage | Bahamas | Americas

[Visited: June 2014]

When I leave Port Howe, I want to visit the House of Rebecca in Bain Town on my way to the place I had picked to watch sunset: the highest point of Cat Island. The House of Rebecca is named after a lady that is in her eighties now, whose late husband built a house with a ceiling full of conches - 966 to be precise. The lady turns out to be very kind, invites me in, and shows not just the room with the famous ceiling, but also her address book, pictures, and more. I feel increasingly restless: sunset is getting closer, and I still have to drive north. I manage to leave the house, and when I drive up to the small parking lot, there is still more than 45 minutes to go before sunset. I am lucky again: the clouds in the sky seem to open up. The walk up to Mount Alvernia is a matter of minutes; a Via Crucis has been constructed with the stations of the cross depicted on its side.

Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Looking up the hermitage of Mount Alvernia just before sunset

The last part are steps hewn out in the rocks of Mount Alvernia by Father Jerome, the famous figure who has left behind several reminders of his stay on Cat Island. The hermitage he built in 1939 now loomed over me; a few steps more, and I am there. When I turn around, I can see Cat Island stretch out before me, the Exuma Sound, and the sun trying hard to burn through the clouds with its fading strength. I walk around the small hermitage, with a circular bell tower attached to it, a tiny chapel, and a small quarter. When the sun finally finds a hole in the clouds, the walls emit a warm orange light, and I walk down a little, and around again, for the best views. There is no one else around: I can enjoy this peaceful, unique spot all on my own.

Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Warm sunlight falling on the hermitage of Mount Alvernia

When Father Jerome arrived on Cat Island at the end of the 1930s, his eyes fell on the highest point of the island and, indeed, the entire Bahamas at 206 feet, called Como Hill. He bought it, renamed it Mount Alvernia after the hill in Tuscany where St. Francis received his wounds of the Cross, and built the hermitage as a place for contemplation. It is easy to see why for the casual visitor: you can see until the horizon in all directions. The sun is now sending its last rays to Cat Island, lighting up the monastery. I can see that the coastline is already in the shade: I am the only person on the island who is still in the sunshine. Inevitably, the sun sets even on Mount Alvernia, and I watch it sink behind the horizon, the contours of the monastery slowly but surely blending into the night, until there is only darkness around me.

Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Sunset over the hermitage of Mount Alvernia, the highest point of the Bahamas
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Steps hewn out in the rocks of Mount Alvernia leading up to the hermitage
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Cross at dusk outside the hermitage of Mount Alvernia
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Entrance of the small church of the Mount Alvernia hermitage
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Bell tower on top of Mount Alvernia
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Looking inside the small church of the hermitage on Mount Alvernia
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): One of the depictions of the Via Crucis on the way up Mount Alvernia
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Evening is falling on the hermitage of Mount Alvernia
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): Cloudy sky over the hermitage at Mount Alvernia just before sunset
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): View of the top of Mount Alvernia with the hermitage and the cross
Picture of Mount Alvernia Hermitage (Bahamas): View from Mount Alvernia at sunset

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