St. Bruno: Priest, Founder of the Carthusians
St. Bruno, the founder of the Cathusian order, was born at Cologne, Germany around 1030. He studied at the school of the Cathedral of Rheims (France) at an early age. He became Canon of the Cathedral and was made the Rector of the University in 1056.
Bruno was one of the most remarkable scholars and teacher of his time: “…a prudent man whose word was rich in meaning.”
Following an attempt at a solitary life of short duration, he entered the region of Grenoble, where the Bishop, the future Saint Hugues, offered him a solitary site in the mountains of his diocese.
In June 1084, the Bishop himself led Bruno and six of his companions to the primitive valley of Chartreuse on a wild mountain range on the edge of the French Alps. There they built a hermitage, consisting of a few log cabins opening towards a gallery which allowed them access to the communal areas of the community — church, refectory, and chapter room — without having to suffer too much from intemperate conditions.
After six years of a pleasant solitary life, Bruno was called by Pope Urban II to the service of the Holy See. As a personal advisor to the Pope (a former student), Bruno felt uncomfortable in the Pontifical Court. He lived in Rome for only a short time. With the Pope’s blessing, he founded a new hermitage in the forests of Calabria, in the south of Italy. There he died on October 6. 1101.
During the final years of his life, Bruno wrote two beautiful texts that have survived: a letter to his friend, Raoul le Verd, and another to his companions in the Desert of Chartreuse.
The Order founded by Bruno — the Cathusians — is one of the strictest in the Church. Carthusians follow the Rule of St. Benedict, but accord it a most austere interpretation; there is perpetual silence and complete abstinence from flesh meat (only bread, legumes, and water are taken for nourishment). Bruno sought to revive the ancient eremitical way of life. His Order enjoys the distinction of never becoming unfaithful to the spirit of its founder, never needing a reform.
St. Bruno is the patron of diabolic possession and Ruthenia.
Rejoice, my dearest brothers, because you are blessed and because of the bountiful hand of God’s grace upon you. Rejoice, because you have escaped the various dangers and shipwrecks of the stormy world. Rejoice because you have reached the quiet and safe anchorage of a secret harbor. Many wish to come into this port, and many make great efforts to do so, yet do not achieve it. Indeed many, after reaching it, have been thrust out, since it was not granted them from above. By your work you show what you love and what you know. When you observe true obedience with prudence and enthusiasm, it is clear that you wisely pick the most delightful and nourishing fruit of divine Scripture.
~from a letter by Saint Bruno to the Carthusians