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Nazarena, an American Anchoress Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

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A curious, interesting, and spiritually enlightening work. -- The Catholic Historical Review

Delightfully written. -- Sisters Today

It is a well-written study that raises issues of general importance about the vocation of hermit and anchoress. -- Catholic Library World

[Matus] is a 'micro-historian' with an eye for hidden events whose significance reaches far and goes deep. -- David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine Monk, author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809137925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809137923
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a book that startles you with an account of a life of faith and sacrifice. Thomas Matus is a camaldolese monk{a branch of the benedictine order} who found himself literally stumbling upon this story.A happy well adjusted young american girl named Julia crotta had a mystical vision summoning her to the desert. the desert for her became a small room in a camaldolese monastery in Italy where she lived as a hermit{or anchoress} the next 45 years. Fr. Matus{author of the vey interesting Romulald and the Five Brothers, a history of the origins of the camaldolese order] tells his tale without the nod and wink of "moderrn" sensibilities. He BELIEVES in what sister Nazarena felt, so he begins his tale from that angle.No other angle would make sense] This is an almost uncomfortable story of faith,where someone gives up LITERALLY everything for their faith. Her life in the convent was not one of luxoury or ease[she made it more rigorous,anyway} This is the story of one who took the gospel call seriously, and it the opposite of any fundamentalism. That is what makes me so uncomfortable, and what makes this book so memorable.A very unique perspective on faith ,and what it costs.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story will seem very, very strange to most contemporary folk. The call that this American girl heard, the call to a form of hermitism, is not commonly discerned these days. This woman, this professionally trained musician, believed that God called her to total reclusion. After unsuccessful attempts in the Carmelite order, she finally found her place among the Camaldolese nuns of the convent of St. Antony in the Desert in Rome. There she lived in seclusion, even from the nuns, for 45 years. Why? Read this book if you want an interesting look at this woman who stands as a challenge to our modern values.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Librarian on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
It was the word "Anchoress" which first caught my attention. The phenomena of medieval women worshiping God by walling themselves into a tiny room attached to a church is fascinating. But a contemporary American anchoress? How can that be?

The author, Thomas Matus, is a Camaldolese Benedictine monk who lived both in Italy and India. In Italy he lived only blocks from the monastery in which Nazarena became an anchoress, but that is getting ahead of the story.

Born Julia Crotta in Glastonbury, Connecticut in 1907 to immigrant farming parents, she is reported to have been "a gifted musician" and an "ordinary Sunday Catholic." But she had a call, a vision of Jesus saying to her "Julia, I'm all alone - come with me to the desert! I'll never leave you." She knew Who it was. She saw the love in His eyes. She gave her consent. She was 26 years old, studying at Albertus Magnus College. And she would spend the next 10 years fighting almost insurmountable odds to achieve her promise. Even in the face of her confessors' doubts, she persisted, and one says of her "Aside from this radical, stubborn consistency with her call to solitude, her personality was totally positive....what convinced me....the joy that she radiated..." That confessor, Don Anselmo, goes on to say "Nazarena's mysticism was her constant contact, her quasi-fusion with the Holy Trinity."

Nazarena never got to the desert as we think of it; rather, her desert was in being an anchoress, separated from human community, living "alone" with Jesus. After an unsuccessful attempt as a Carmelite, she left and joined the Camaldolese Benedictine nuns, and had a room there in which she secluded herself. The Camaldolese connection is the one which brought Matus to write this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By djc on May 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Have you ever wondered why a person would so utterly and completely devote herself to God that she would abandon hearth, home and family? Have you ever wondered what the life of a hermit really entails; the ups and downs, the daily routine, the types of food eaten? If you have this book is for you. The life of Julia Crotta, a gifted Italian-American girl, gave no clues or indications of her future vocation. Indeed, all evidence pointed toward a very conventional life. This well written and informative book is a real page-turner as the Author, Fr Thomas Matus Cam OSB, gently and with much sensitivity, guides the reader thru the stages of first Julia Crotta and then Sr. Nazarena's life.

I don't like to add books to my personal collection I'm only going to read once; I can just get them from the library for free and return them when I'm done. I'm glad this book is in my library as I'm sure I'll go back to it time and time again.

djc
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