The Hermitage Cat Island

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…The Hermitage, New Bight, Cat Island…

It has long been a goal of ours to see Cat Island and to hike the highest hill in the Bahamas. Prevailing easterly trade winds and bad weather have prevented us from coming to this Out Island in the past, but this year we succeeded!

Father Jerome was an Englishman who first trained as an architect and a sculptor. In 1903, he became an Anglican priest who built churches in England before coming to the Bahamas for a brief time. After moving to the U. S., he converted to Catholicism and worked as a wagon train driver and a railway laborer. Then he went to Rome and became a Catholic priest in 1915. Next, he designed and built many large churches in Western Australia. Nearly 20 years later, he returned to the Bahamas, to New Bight on Cat Island. In 1939, Father Jerome began building The Hermitage, his residence with a private chapel and bell tower on Mount Alvernia, 206 feet above sea level. He died in 1956 at the age of 79 and is buried on the property. He built a total of 7 churches and one monastery in the Bahamas.

We are fortunate to have already seen two beautifull churches designed and built by Father Jerome in Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas. St. Paul’s is Anglican (1910) and St. Peter’s is Catholic (1947).  We plan to go to Long Island again, on our way southward out of the Bahamas.

Archway to Mount Alvernia.
Reliefs depicting the Stations of the Cross are along a very steep path to the top.
From left to right, the residence, the chapel and the bell tower

Looking west to the waters of Cat Island Bight.
Jerome’s tiny bedroom is on the extreme right.

The roofs look recently whitewashed
There is debate whether or not this is Father Jerome’s final resting place.
The chimney on the right is for the kitchen.

The entrance to the chapel through a narrow door. Notice the thick, sloped walls.

The spartan bedroom

Arches were used often throughout the buildings.

The inscription over the chapel door means “Shrine of the Holy Spirit”

The altar with a glass window to the east, over looking the Atlantic

A carved Celtic cross

Steep paths in all directions lead from the top of this hill.

Island Spirit viewed through the arch beside the bell tower.

There is a surprising amount of large vegetation on Cat Island, unlike other Bahamian Islands.

Resting in the shade on the beach after our hike

Walking with an umbrella to see Father Jerome’s church

The Catholic Church of New Bight Cat Island built by Father Jerome

Stone benches on the beach across King’s Highway from the Government Building.
Island Spirit on the horizon.
A squall on the horizon that fortunately did not reach us.

Today was one of the highlights of our cruising season! We wish we had more time to enjoy the colorful fish shacks along the beach here at New Bight and the rake and scrape music from the Sailing Center that welcomed us on Saturday evening. The town encourages boaters to visit and  has built an amazing bath house with 3 stalls and one shower for men and for women. It is spacious with tile walls and countertops, well ventilated and spotlessly clean. There are no facilities like this anywhere else in the Bahamas. We are grateful to our friends Jim and Bentley of s/v Salty Paws for their excellent recommendations about Cat Island!
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0 Replies to “The Hermitage Cat Island”

  1. Wonderful photos of Cat Island – and the interesting history of Father Jerome's church. Wondering what kind of camera you are using. Love following Island Spirit!!! – Dick and me – Gusto!!!

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