If you were a child on Cat Island in the early 1950’s, you loved seeing Father Jerome, the aging hermit who always had pockets full of candy for the kids.
John Cyril Hawes, Father Jerome, was a British architect who became an Anglican priest in 1903. His first home in the Bahamas was on Long Island, where he was sent to repair churches damaged by a hurricane in 1908. He left the Bahamas to wander in the US and Canada, doing some horse breeding and working as a teamster.
In 1911 he traveled to Rome to become a Catholic priest. Then, after serving for a while as a bush priest in Australia, he came back to the Bahamas. Living here on Cat Island, he built more churches.
At age 63 he received permission to retire as a hermit. He chose to live atop Mount Alvernia, the highest point in the Bahamas. Here he built the Hermitage by hand using native materials. He was able to enjoy this place for 16 years before he died. At his request he was buried in a cave beneath the chapel.