Eremite (ἔρημος, desert), one who lives in a wilderness, or other solitude, for purposes of religious contemplation. The name was given in the ancient Church to those Christians who fled from the persecutors of Christianity into the wilderness, and there, isolated from all other men, gave themselves up to a life of rigid asceticism. Paul of Thebes is called the first eremite, and he soon found numerous followers. From the association of eremites the coenobites arose, who, in turn, form the transition to the monastic orders, which became in the Church of Rome and in the Eastern Church the most common form of organized asceticism. The name eremite remained, however, in use both for those who, in opposition to monastic association, preferred the eremitic life, and for a number of orders or branches of orders (orders of eremites), which either retained some customs in the life of the original eremites, or which made special provisions that their members could live in entire isolation from each other meeting only for the celebration of divine service. Thus the proper name of the Augustinians (q.v.) was the Eremites of St. Augustine, although they became, in fact, a regular order. There were also eremites belonging to the orders of Franciscans (q.v.), Camaldulenses (q.v.), Coelestines (q.v.), Hieronymites (q.v.), and Servites (q.v.). Among the other orders of the eremites were the Eremites of St. John the Baptist, SEE JOHN THE BAPTIST, EREMITES OF, and the Eremitesof St. Paul. — Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 3:501. SEE PAUL, ST., EREMITES OF.