Joinville on hermits

In his Chronicle of the Crusade of St. Louis, the thirteenth-fourteenth century writer Joinville mentions an incident refering to hermits. On his party’s arrival on the Greek island of Lampedousa, he relates:

We found an ancient hermitage in the rocks and the garden that the hermits who dwelt there had made: olives, figs, vines and other trees. The stream from the fountain ran through the garden.

In this idyllic place, they found a cave, and in it two bodies, long decomposed, hands on breasts and laid out to face east. Clearly these were occupants of the hermitage. The party returned to the ship and discovered that one of their mariners was missing.

The master of the ship thought the sailor had remained on the island in order to be a hermit. Whereupon the king’s master sergeant left three bags of biscuit on the shore, so that the mariner might find them, and subsist on them.