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Solitary Confinement

By Linda Tancs

In 1732 German immigrant Johann Conrad Beissel sought out solitude in the Pennsylvania countryside in what is now Ephrata. There he established a reclusive retreat dedicated to the pursuit of spirituality, and the Solitary movement was born. The Solitary lived a monastic life dedicated to prayer and worship, eating a single evening meal off of the lands they tended. Although the last of the order died over a century ago and the lands sold to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Ephrata Cloister’s heritage is preserved at various houses and meeting rooms that can be toured on the property. The experience comes complete with guides in the white robes worn by members of the Cloister to hide their bodies. As the song goes, give me that old time religion. Or at the very least, as their website says, a quiet place to visit.

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