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Cat Island

2017 April 3
by Greg Long

We finally made it to Cat Island, and it was well worth the effort. The highlight of the trip, besides the beauty of the island scenery, was a climb up Mt Alvernia (Como Hill to the locals) to the highest point of the Bahamas. Since that highest point is only 206 ft above sea level, it’s easy to understand why hurricanes cause so much devastation!

Mt Alvernia is the location chosen by Father Jerome, a truly remarkable man who made a lasting impact on the communities. Father Jerome started his career as an award winning architect who then entered the ministry as an Anglican priest. He was sent to the Bahamas to help restore local churches and communities after a 1908 hurricane. After some years of service, he left the islands for stints as a cowboy, wagon train driver, sailor and probably a few other pursuits. He then converted to Catholicism and returned to the Bahamas where he built his retirement home and personal monastery call the Hermitage. From the anchorage, the Hermitage looks like an imposing structure atop the hill. But when you reach it, you realize Father Jerome was more contemplative and reclusive than grandiose. The Hermitage is a series of connected but very small rooms. The largest room is a 1 person chapel complete with a single seat pew and kneeler.

The story is told that Bahamians knew something was wrong when the 86 year old Father Jerome failed to ring the chapel bell one morning. They hurried up the hill to find that he had fallen. They helped him down the hill and sent him by boat to Nassau and then on to Miami for surgery, which he did not survive. But he left an indelible mark on the islands he served.

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The Hermitage atop Mt Alvernia

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Seems like we are always anchoring close to the BTC towers!

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The road up to the Hermitage

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Father Jerome was also a sculptor and carved the 14 Stations of the Cross on the path up the hill

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The Hermitage is actually several small individual purpose rooms: sleeping, sitting, kitchen and chapel

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Not as big as it looks from the anchorage!

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Looking down at the anchorage from inside

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The inside of the Chapel

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The single seat pew and kneeler

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The bell tower and the chapel

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But if not…

 

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