hi, i'm sorry if the article is a little confusing.
once u ignore the first paragraph it makes more sense.
i think the article is first trying to explain what anchorites are not (not that any of you would have made this mistake; it is written for egyptian copts) before saying a bit about them. the article stresses the touch spiritual life of the anchorites, rather than the 'glamour' of the spiritual gifts that have been bestowed on them.
the link, i was looking for earlier and couldn't find is here:http://www.coptichymns.net/module-library-viewpub-tid-1-pid-57.html
it tells the life of anba ('father') misael the 'sa-ih' or anchorite, who was a monk from a young age, persevered in very much fasting and praying, and was taken from the monastery to be an anchorite. he return only twice; once to protect the monastery from the governor's men who were going to steal all the food, and once to attend the consecration of a new church. on that occasion, only his spiritual father was able to see him.
it is true that churches should have side altars, in case the 'sowah' come early in the morning, while it is dark, to use one of the altars. we don't allow the use of an altar more than once each day, so it is good to have a 'spare' one. i didn't hear of any stories like this in my church, but we all know someone whose grandfather's friend (or similar distant relative) knows a story like this.
it is also true that in translation, using the word 'anchorite' as a translation for 'sa-ih' is misleading.
but the 'sowah' have a special set of spiritual gifts, usually involving supernatural travel, solitary disposition and other gifts, so i, personally, just use the arabic term 'sowah', when i am talking with people who understand this term.
thanks, jonathan, for helping me to explain it better.