This Man Will Be One of Central Europe's Last Hermits
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By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2017 2:48 PM CDT
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Stan Vanuytrecht will become one of Europe's last hermits.   (Parish of Saalfelden via AP)

(Newser) – "When I read about the Saalfelden hermitage, I thought to myself: that's the place for me," says Stan Vanuytrecht. The mayor of the Austrian town, perched in the Alps, thought it was just the spot for Vanuytrecht, too. Vanuytrecht, a bearded, pipe-smoking Catholic deacon from Belgium, beat out 49 other applicants to nab the unpaid post as part-time hermit of the 350-year-old cliffside dwelling, which is without running water, heat, and internet, reports the Guardian. But Vanuytrecht couldn't care less about the lack of amenities. The 58-year-old divorcee and former artillery officer says he's previously lived in poverty and is looking forward to a life of solitary peace when he takes up his new post on April 30.

But Vanuytrecht won't be too isolated during his seasons at the hermitage, open from April to November, as visitors are known to hike up for a chat and some counseling, per the BBC. Vanuytrecht, who speaks fluent German, says his experience working with the homeless, addicts, prisoners, and psychiatric patients will help him deliver meaningful advice. "It's important just to listen without talking oneself and without judging," he says, per the Telegraph. Though Vanuytrecht adds he thought he "didn't have a chance," Saalfelden's mayor says he "radiates calm and comes across as well-anchored." Outside reports the job listing called Saalfelden home to one of the last "tenanted hermitages" in Central Europe. (A Chinese man has only had sheep for company for a decade.)

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