A Diocesan Hermit is one who is directly vowed to Obedience (as well as Poverty and Chastity) to a
diocesan bishop. It is similar to the distinction between a "diocesan priest" and a "religious priest."
Before Vatican II, only established members of religious orders received permission from superiors to go
and live as hermits. Vatican II restored the notion of "the Order of Virgins"--consecrated virgins living alone
or in groups--and the "Order of Hermits." Canonical hermits serve the Church in public vows, but come directly
from the laity. Many have been a lay member of a religious order for years; this is just the natural "next step," drawn
by a powerful urging of grace. Many have been married and are now single.
A diocesan hermit can live strictly alone out somewhere in the wilds, or in the city, anonymous to all but
a few priests, etc. Many choose--for safety, support, etc.--to live in loose groups of hermits called Laura or
Lavra. In the Desert of Skete in Egypt, during and after the time of St. Antony the Great of Egypt, father of monks,
the early hermits rarely lived alone, but in groups of 2, 3, or 4, usually learners with a master. So "hermitages"--the
places where they live and pray--are often called "skete" or "skeet."