Fondateur des Chartreux (+ 1101)
Il avait tout pour faire une belle carrière d'universitaire ecclésiastique, ce fils d'un riche marchand des bords du Rhin. Originaire de Cologne, il avait étudié dans sa ville natale et puis l'avait quittée, âgé d'une quinzaine d'années pour aller se perfectionner à Reims. A 24 ans, le voilà devenu écolâtre, chargé d'étudiants. Sa réputation est si flatteuse qu'il devient chancelier de l'archevêque de Reims, Manassès de Gournay. Mais l'archevêque est indigne. Il a payé ses électeurs et Bruno le dénonce. On lui offre de lui succéder, Bruno refuse. Et c'est alors la rupture. Cette brillante carrière ne le comble pas, il ressent un vide dans son cœur, une soif le consume. Il n'est pas fait pour les 'combines', il veut être à Dieu seul. A 52 ans, en 1084, il vend tout ce qu'il possède et, avec quelques amis qui partagent ses aspirations, il tente un premier essai de vie érémitique au prieuré de Sèchefontaine*, une dépendance de l'abbaye de Molesme. La forme de vie dont il rêve ne s'y trouve pas. Il lui faut la créer. Saint Hugues, évêque de Grenoble, met à la disposition de Bruno et de ses compagnons une 'solitude' dans le massif alpin de la Grande Chartreuse. Bruno y élabore ce qui deviendra la Règle des Chartreux, faite de solitude en cellule, de liturgies communes et de travail manuel. Le pape Urbain II l'ayant appelé comme conseiller, il quitte à regret la Chartreuse pour Rome. Ne pouvant s'habituer à la vie 'du siècle', il obtient de se retirer en Calabre où il fonde une nouvelle communauté cartusienne à La Torre. C'est là qu'il mourra dans une solitude bienheureuse: "L'air y est doux, les prés verdoyants, nous avons des fleurs et des fruits, nous sommes loin des hommes, écrivait-il à un vieil ami de Reims. Comment dépeindre cette fête perpétuelle où déjà l'on savoure les fruits du ciel?".
*solitude que lui avait indiquée saint
Robert, futur fondateur de Cîteaux.
Saint Hugues et Saint Bruno:
Le diocèse de Grenoble voit naître ou s'établir de nombreuses communautés et de grandes figures religieuses.
En 1084 saint Bruno s'installe avec l'accord de saint Hugues, évêque de Grenoble, en Chartreuse et fonde l'ordre des Chartreux. Saint Hugues est lui-même connu pour avoir libéré l'Église du pouvoir des laïcs, et considéré comme le véritable fondateur du diocèse car il en fixe le territoire. Il fonde aussi le monastère de Chalais.
Mémoire de saint Bruno, prêtre. Né à Cologne, il enseigna la théologie en France, mais désireux d'une vie solitaire, il fonda, avec quelques disciples, dans la vallée déserte de la Chartreuse, dans les Alpes, un Ordre où la solitude des ermites serait tempérée par une certaine forme de cénobitisme. Appelé à Rome par le bienheureux pape Urbain II, pour qu'il lui vienne en aide dans les besoins que connaissait l'Église, il passa cependant les dernières années de sa vie dans un ermitage, près du monastère de La Torre en Calabre, où il mourut en 1101.
Saint Bruno et ses six compagnons devant l'évêque Hugues de Grenoble dans la Grande Chartreuse,
Manuscrit du XVe siècle
Fondateur de l'Ordre des Chartreux
Saint Bruno naquit à Cologne d'une famille de première noblesse. Ses magnifiques succès épouvantèrent son âme, désireuse de ne vivre que pour Dieu. Il songeait à quitter ce monde, où il était déjà appelé aux grandeurs, quand un fait tragique décida complètement sa vocation. Bruno comptait pour ami, à l'université de Paris, le célèbre chanoine Raymond, dont tout le monde admirait la vertu non moins que la science. Or cet ami vint à mourir, et pendant ses obsèques solennelles, auxquelles Bruno assistait, à ces paroles de Job: "Réponds-moi, quelles sont mes iniquités?" Le mort se releva et dit d'une voix effrayante: "Je suis accusé par un juste jugement de Dieu!" Une panique indescriptible s'empara de la foule, et la sépulture fut remise au lendemain; mais le lendemain au même moment de l'office, le mort se leva de nouveau et s'écria: "Je suis jugé par un juste jugement de Dieu!" Une nouvelle terreur occasionna un nouveau retard. Enfin, le troisième jour, le mort se leva encore et cria d'une voix plus terrible: "Je suis condamné au juste jugement de Dieu!"
Bruno brisa dès lors les derniers liens qui le retenaient au monde, et, inspiré du Ciel, il se rendit à Grenoble, où le saint évêque Hugues, répondant à ses aspirations vers la solitude la plus profonde, lui indiqua ce désert affreux et grandiose à la fois, si connu sous le nom de Grande-Chartreuse. Il fallut franchir de dangereux précipices, s'ouvrir un chemin à coups de hache dans des bois d'une végétation puissante, entremêlés de ronces épaisses et d'immenses fougères; il fallut prendre le terrain pied à pied sur les bêtes sauvages, furieuses d'être troublées dans leur possession paisible. Quelques cellules en bois et une chapelle furent le premier établissement. Le travail, la prière, un profond silence du côté des hommes, tel fut pour Bruno l'emploi des premières années de sa retraite.
Il dut aller, pendant plusieurs années, servir de conseiller au saint Pape Urbain II, refusa avec larmes l'archevêché de Reggio, retourna à sa vie solitaire et alla fonder en Calabre un nouveau couvent de son Ordre. À l'approche de sa dernière heure, pendant que ses frères désolés entouraient son lit de planches couvert de cendres, Bruno parla du bonheur de la vie monastique, fit sa confession générale, demanda humblement la Sainte Eucharistie, et s'endormit paisiblement dans le Seigneur.
Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950
Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652). Saint Bruno, 1643, 38 x 27, Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte
Vie de Saint Bruno
Bruno qui appartenait à une famille noble (celle, croit-on, des Hartenfaust, de duro pugno), né à Cologne entre 1030 et 1035. Il commença ses études dans sa ville natale, à la collégiale de Saint-Cunibert, et fit ensuite des études de philosophie et de théologie à Reims et, peut-être aussi à Paris. Vers 1055, il revint à Cologne pour recevoir de l’archevêque Annon, avec la prêtrise, un canonicat à Saint-Cunibert.
En 1056 ou 1057, il fut rappelé à Reims par l’archevêque Gervais pour y devenir, avec le titre d'écolâtre, professeur de grammaire, de philosophie et de théologie ; il devait garder une vingtaine d'années cette chaire, où il travailla à répandre les doctrines clunisiennes et, comme on allait dire bientôt, grégoriennes ; parmi ses élèves, étaient Eudes de Châtillon, le futur Urbain II, Rangérius, futur évêque de Lucques, Robert, futur évêque de Langres, Lambert, futur abbé de Pothières, Pierre, futur abbé de Saint-Jean de Soissons, Mainard, futur prieur de Cormery, et d'autres personnages de premier plan. Maître Bruno dont on conserve un commentaire des psaumes et une étude sur les épitres de saint Paul est précis, clair et concis en même temps qu’affable, bon et souriant « il est, dire ses disciples, éloquent, expert dans tous les arts, dialecticien, grammairien, rhéteur, fontaine de doctrine, docteur des docteurs. »
Sa situation devint difficile quand l'archevêque Manassès de Gournay, simoniaque avéré, monta en 1067 sur le siège de Reims ; ce prélat qui n'ignorait pas l'opposition de Bruno, tenta d'abord de se le concilier, et le désigna même comme chancelier du Chapitre (1075), mais l'administration tyrannique de Manassès, qui pillait les biens d'Eglise, provoqua des protestations, auxquelles Bruno s'associa ; elles devaient aboutir à la déposition de l'indigne prélat en 1080 ; en attendant, Manassès priva Bruno de ses charges et s'empara de ses biens qui ne lui furent rendus que lorsque l'archevêque perdit son siège.
Bruno, réfugié d'abord au château d'Ebles de Roucy, puis, semble-t-il, à Cologne, chargé de mission à Paris, et redoutant d'être appelé à la succession de Manassès, décida de renoncer à la vie séculière. Cette résolution aurait été fortifiée en lui, d'après une tradition que répètent les historiens chartreux, par l'épisode parisien (1082) des funérailles du chanoine Raymond Diocrès qui se serait trois fois levé de son cercueil pour se déclarer jugé et condamné au tribunal de Dieu.
En 1083, Bruno se rendit avec deux compagnons, Pierre et Lambert, auprès de saint Robert de Molesme, pour lui demander l'habit monastique et l'autorisation de se retirer dans la solitude, à Sèche-Fontaine. Mais ce n'était pas encore, si près de l'abbaye, la vraie vie érémitique. Sur le conseil de Robert de Molesme et, semble-t-il, de l'abbé de la Chaise-Dieu, Seguin d'Escotay, Bruno se rendit, avec six compagnons auprès du saint évêque Hugues de Grenoble qui accueillit avec bienveillance la petite colonie. Une tradition de l'Ordre veut que saint Hugues ait vu les sept ermites annoncés dans un songe sous l'apparence de sept étoiles. Il conduisit Bruno et ses compagnons dans un site montagneux d'une sévérité vraiment farouche, le désert de Chartreuse (1084) . En 1085 une première église s'y élevait. Le sol avait été cédé en propriété par Hugues aux religieux qui en gardèrent le nom de Chartreux. Quant à l'appartenance spirituelle, il paraît que la fondation eut d'abord quelque lien avec la Chaise-Dieu, à qui Bruno la remit quand il dut se rendre en Italie ; mais l'abbé Seguin restitua la Chartreuse au prieur Landuin quand celui-ci, pour obéir à saint Bruno, rétablit la communauté, et il reconnut l'indépendance de l'ordre nouveau (1090) .
Au début de cette année 1090, Bruno avait été appelé à Rome par un de ses anciens élèves, le pape Urbain II, qui voulait s'aider de ses conseils et qui lui concéda, pour ceux de ses compagnons qui l'avaient suivi, l'église de Saint-Cyriaque. Le fondateur fut à plusieurs reprises convoqué à des conciles . Le pape eût voulu lui faire accepter l'archevêché de Reggio de Calabre, mais Bruno n'abandonnait pas son rêve de vie érémitique. Il avait reçu en 1092 du comte Roger de Sicile un terrain boisé à La Torre, près de Squillace, où Urbain II autorisa la construction d'un ermitage et où une église fut consacrée en 1094. Roger aurait affirmé, dans un diplôme de 1099, que Bruno l'aurait averti dans un songe d'un complot durant le siège de Padoue en 1098.
Bruno, le 27 juillet 1101, recevait du pape Pascal II la confirmation de l'autonomie de ses ermites. Le 6 octobre suivant, après avoir émis une profession de foi et fait devant les frères sa confession générale, il rendit l'âme à la chartreuse de San Stefano in Bosco, filiale de La Torre, où il fut enseveli. Les cent soixante-treize rouleaux des morts, circulant d'abbaye en abbaye et recevant des formules d'éloges funèbres, attestent précieusement, dès le lendemain de sa mort, sa réputation de sainteté, accrue par les miracles attribués à son intercession. Son corps, transféré en 1122 à Sainte-Marie du Désert, la chartreuse principale de La Torre, y fut l'objet d'une invention en 1502 et d'une récognition en 1514. Le culte fut autorisé de vive voix dans l'ordre des Chartreux par Léon X, le 19 juillet 1514. La fête, introduite en 1622 dans la liturgie romaine et confirmée en 1623 comme semi-double ad libitum, est devenue de précepte et de rite double en 1674 à la date anniversaire de sa mort, le 6 octobre ; saint Bruno n'a donc été l'objet que d'une canonisation équipollente.
En 1257, saint Louis demanda des moines au prieur de la Grande Chartreuse, qui lui envoya Dom Jean de Jossaram, prieur du Val-Sainte-Marie, près de Valence, et quatre autres religieux. Ils habitèrent d'abord Gentilly, puis vinrent près de Paris, au château de Vauvert, dès 1258. Saint Louis fit commencer leur grande église, qui ne fut dédiée qu'en 1325, à la Sainte Vierge et à saint Jean-Baptiste. Elle avait sept chapelles latérales dans la clôture et une huitième chapelle extérieure, dont l'accès était permis aux femmes. Vingt-huit cellules, chacune composée de deux ou trois pièces et accompagnée d'un jardin, étaient groupées autour du grand cloître. Il y vivait quarante religieux, sans compter les Frères. Le petit cloître était décoré des fameux tableaux de la vie de saint Bruno d'Eustache Lesueur : il n'y en avait que trois, disait-on, de sa main. La Révolution détruisit ce monastère pour faire passer des rues et agrandir le jardin du Luxembourg.
Les Chartreux de Paris achetèrent une rente sur des biens sis à Saulx que saint Louis leur confirma en 1263. L’année suivante, les Chartreux achètent à Saulx la dîme du blé avec une partie du fief des Tournelles où était le four banal. En 1265, les Chartreux achètent à Saulx la dime du vin. En 1285, les Chartreux achètent le fief des Tournelles avec le four banal. En 1657 le prieuré Notre-Dame de Saulx est cédé aux Chartreux et ils nomment le curé de la paroisse.
Le 14 mai 1984, l'occasion du neuvième centenaire de la fondation de leur Ordre le Saint-Père adressait aux Chartreux la lettre Silentio et solitudini, rappelant qu’en l'an 1084, aux alentours de la fête de saint Jean-Baptiste, Bruno de Cologne, au terme d’une brillante carrière ecclésiastique, marquée notamment par un courage indomptable dans la lutte contre les abus de l'époque, entrait avec six compagnons au désert de Chartreuse. Il s’agit d’une vallée étroite et resserrée des Préalpes, à 1175 mètres d'altitude, où de grands sapins laissent à peine pénétrer la lumière, et que les neiges isolent presque complètement du monde extérieur durant l'hiver interminable. Ce cadre austère paraissait approprié à la forme de vie entièrement centrée sur Dieu qu'ils désiraient chercher par le moyen de la solitude. Le monastère fut fait de petits ermitages, reliés par une galerie pour se rendre en toute saison à l'église. Les moines ne se rencontraient habituellement qu’aux Matines et aux Vêpres, parfois à la messe qui n’était pas alors quotidienne, mais ils prenaient ensemble le repas du dimanche, suivi du chapitre. Saint Bruno avait en propre de savoir unir une soif intense de la rencontre de Dieu dans la solitude, avec une capacité exceptionnelle de se faire des amis, et de faire naître parmi eux un courant d'intense affection.
Parmi les six compagnons de saint Bruno figuraient deux laïcs ou convers ; leur solitude devait incorporer un certain travail hors de la cellule, principalement agricole. Aujourd'hui encore un monastère cartusien comporte des moines du cloître, voués à la solitude de la cellule, et des moines convers, qui partagent leur temps entre cette solitude et la solitude du travail dans les obédiences : on pratique ainsi deux manières, étroitement solidaires et complémentaires, de vivre la vie de chartreux ou de chartreuse.
Les historiens de la vie monastique ont relevé la sagesse qui a su unir les différents aspects de la vie cartusienne en un équilibre harmonieux : le soutien de la vie fraternelle aide à affronter l'austérité de l'érémitisme ; la coexistence de deux manières de vivre l'érémitisme (moines du cloître et moines convers) permet à chacune des deux de trouver sa formule la meilleure ; un facteur équilibrant, aussi, est joué par l'importance de l'office liturgique de Matines, célébré à l'église au cours de la nuit. Ou encore, liberté spirituelle et obéissance sont étroitement unies... Cette sagesse de vie, les chartreux la doivent à saint Bruno lui-même, et c'est elle qui a assuré la persévérance de leur Ordre à travers les siècles. Sagesse et équilibre.
Il reste vrai qu'une telle vie n'a de sens qu'en référence à Dieu. Le Saint-Père, dans sa lettre, rappelait aux Chartreux que c'est là leur responsabilité, leur fonction propre dans le Corps mystique, au sein duquel ils doivent exercer un rayonnement invisible : ils sont, disait-il, des témoins de l'absolu, spécialement utiles aux hommes d'aujourd'hui, souvent profondément troublés par le tourbillon des idées et l'instabilité qui caractérisent la culture moderne. Pour l'Eglise elle-même, ajoute le Pape, en tant qu'elle est absorbée dans les difficultés du labeur apostolique, les solitaires signifient la certitude de l'Amour immuable de Dieu ; et c'est au nom de toute l'Eglise qu'ils font monter vers Lui un hymne de louange ininterrompue.
 Quelques clercs de Reims avaient porté plainte contre Manassès de Gournay auprès de Hugues de Die, légat du pape Grégoire VII, qui le cita à comparaître au concile d’Autun (1077). Manassès ne parut pas au concile d’Autun qui le déposa, mais s’en fut se plaindre à Rome où il promit tout ce que l’on voulut. C’est alors qu’il priva de leurs charges et de leurs biens tous ses accusateurs dont Bruno. Voyant que Manassès de Gournay ne s’amendait pas, Hugues de Die le cita à comparaître au concile de Lyon (1080) ; l’archevêque écrivit pour se défendre mais, cette fois, il fut déposé et, le 27 décembre 1080, Grégoire VII ordonna aux clercs de Reims de procéder à l’élection d’un nouvel archevêque. Manassès s’enfuit et ses accusateurs rentrèrent en possession de leurs charges et de leurs biens.
 Jean Long d'Ypres : Chronique de Saint-Bertin.
 Les six compagnons de Bruno étaient le toscan Landuin, théologien réputé, qui lui succéda comme prieur de la Chartreuse, Etienne de Bourg et Etienne de Die, chanoines de Saint-Ruf en Dauphiné, le prêtre Hugues qui fut leur chapelain, André et Guérin. Les deux derniers des six compagnons de saint Bruno étaient deux laïcs ou convers ; leur solitude devait incorporer un certain travail hors de la cellule, principalement agricole. Aujourd'hui encore un monastère cartusien comporte des moines du cloître, voués à la solitude de la cellule, et des moines convers, qui partagent leur temps entre cette solitude et la solitude du travail dans les obédiences : on pratique ainsi deux manières, étroitement solidaires et complémentaires, de vivre la vie de chartreux ou de chartreuse.
 Il s’agit d’une vallée étroite et resserrée des Préalpes, à 1175 mètres d'altitude, où de grands sapins laissent à peine pénétrer la lumière, et que les neiges isolent presque complètement du monde extérieur durant l'hiver interminable. Ce cadre austère paraissait approprié à la forme de vie entièrement centrée sur Dieu qu'ils désiraient chercher par le moyen de la solitude. Le monastère fut fait de petits ermitages, reliés par une galerie pour se rendre en toute saison à l'église. Les moines ne se rencontraient habituellement qu’aux Matines et aux Vêpres, parfois à la messe qui n’était pas alors quotidienne, mais ils prenaient ensemble le repas du dimanche, suivi du chapitre. Saint Bruno avait en propre de savoir unir une soif intense de la rencontre de Dieu dans la solitude, avec une capacité exceptionnelle de se faire des amis, et de faire naître parmi eux un courant d'intense affection.
 Les historiens de la vie monastique ont relevé la sagesse qui a su unir les différents aspects de la vie cartusienne en un équilibre harmonieux : le soutien de la vie fraternelle aide à affronter l'austérité de l'érémitisme ; la coexistence de deux manières de vivre l'érémitisme (moines du cloître et moines convers) permet à chacune des deux de trouver sa formule la meilleure ; un facteur équilibrant, aussi, est joué par l'importance de l'office liturgique de Matines, célébré à l'église au cours de la nuit. Ou encore, liberté spirituelle et obéissance sont étroitement unies... Cette sagesse de vie, les chartreux la doivent à saint Bruno lui-même, et c'est elle qui a assuré la persévérance de leur Ordre à travers les siècles. Sagesse et équilibre. Il reste vrai qu'une telle vie n'a de sens qu'en référence à Dieu. Le Saint-Père, dans sa lettre, rappelait aux Chartreux que c'est là leur responsabilité, leur fonction propre dans le Corps mystique, au sein duquel ils doivent exercer un rayonnement invisible : ils sont, disait-il, des témoins de l'absolu, spécialement utiles aux hommes d'aujourd'hui, souvent profondément troublés par le tourbillon des idées et l'instabilité qui caractérisent la culture moderne. Pour l'Eglise elle-même, ajoute le Pape, en tant qu'elle est absorbée dans les difficultés du labeur apostolique, les solitaires signifient la certitude de l'Amour immuable de Dieu ; et c'est au nom de toute l'Eglise qu'ils font monter vers Lui un hymne de louange ininterrompue.
 Bénévent, 1091 ; Troja, 1093 ; Plaisance, 1095.
Nicolas MIGNARD. Saint Bruno en prière dans le désert,
1638, huile sur toile, 220 x 144,5, Avignon, Musée Calvet
"O Dieu, montrez-nous votre visage
qui n'est autre que votre Fils,
puisque c'est par lui que vous vous faites connaître
de même que l'homme tout entier est connu par son seul visage.
Et par ce visage que vous nous aurez montré,
convertissez les morts que nous sommes
des ténèbres à la lumière,
convertissez-nous des vices aux vertus,
de l'ignorance à la parfaite connaissance de vous."
"Vous êtes mon Seigneur,
vous dont je préfère les volontés aux miennes propres ;
puisque je ne puis toujours prier avec des paroles,
si quelque jour j'ai prié avec une vraie dévotion,
comprenez mon cri :
prenez en gré cette dévotion
qui vous prie comme une immense clameur ;
et pour que mes paroles
soient de plus en plus dignes d'être exaucées de vous,
donnez intensité et persévérance à la voix de ma prière.
O Dieu, qui êtes puissant et dont je me suis fait le serviteur,
quant à moi je vous prie et vous prierai avec persévérance
afin de mériter et de vous obtenir ;
ce n'est pas pour obtenir quelque bien terrestre :
je demande ce que je dois demander, Vous seul."
Né vers 1030, mort en 1101. Culte autorisé en 1514, fête en 1674.
Leçons des Matines (avant 1960)
Quatrième leçon. Bruno, fondateur de l’Ordre des Chartreux, naquit à Cologne. Dès le berceau, il montra de tels indices de sa sainteté future, par la gravité de ses mœurs, par le soin qu’il mettait, avec le secours de la grâce divine, à fuir les amusements frivoles de cet âge, qu’on pouvait déjà reconnaître en lui le père des moines, en même temps que le restaurateur de la vie anachorétique. Ses parents, qui se distinguaient autant par leur noblesse que par leurs vertus, l’envoyèrent à Paris, et il y fit de tels progrès dans l’étude de la philosophie et de la théologie, qu’il obtint le titre de docteur et de maître dans l’une et l’autre faculté. Peu après, il se vit, en raison de ses remarquables vertus, appelé à faire partie du Chapitre de l’Église de Reims.
Cinquième leçon. Quelques années s’étant écoulées, Bruno renonçant au monde avec six de ses amis se rendit auprès de saint Hugues, Évêque de Grenoble. Instruit du motif de leur venue, et comprenant que c’était eux qu’il avait vus en songe, la nuit précédente, sous l’image de sept étoiles se prosternant à ses pieds, il leur concéda, dans son diocèse, des montagnes très escarpées connues sous le nom de Chartreuse. Hugues lui-même accompagna Bruno et ses compagnons jusqu’à ce désert, où le Saint mena pendant plusieurs années la vie érémitique. Urbain II, qui avait été son disciple, le fit venir à Rome, et s’aida quelques années de ses conseils dans les difficultés du gouvernement de l’Église, jusqu’à ce que, Bruno ayant refusé l’archevêché de Reggio, obtint du Pape la permission de s’éloigner.
Sixième leçon. Poussé par l’amour de la solitude, il se retira dans un lieu désert, sur les confins de la Calabre, près de Squillace. Ce fut là que Roger, comte de Calabre, étant à la chasse, le découvrit en prière, au fond d’une caverne où ses chiens s’étaient précipités à grand bruit. Le comte, frappé de sa sainteté, commença à l’honorer et à le favoriser beaucoup, lui et ses disciples. Les libéralités de Roger ne demeurèrent pas sans récompense. En effet, tandis qu’il assiégeait Capoue, Sergius, un de ses officiers, ayant formé le dessein de le trahir, Bruno, vivant encore dans le désert susdit, apparut en songe au comte et, lui découvrant tout le complot, le délivra d’un péril imminent. Enfin, plein de mérites et de vertus, non moins illustre par sa sainteté que par sa science, Bruno s’endormit dans le Seigneur et fut enseveli dans le monastère de Saint-Etienne, construit par Roger, où son culte est resté jusqu’ici en grand honneur.
Educated in Paris and the seminary of Rheims, France, Bruno was ordained a priest c.1055, and began to teach theology; one of his students later became Pope Blessed Urban II. Father Bruno presided over the cathedral school at Rheims from 1057 to 1075. He criticized the worldliness he saw in his fellow clergy, and opposed Manasses, Archbishop of Rheims, because of his laxity and mismanagement. He served as chancellor of the archdiocese of Rheims.
Following a vision he received of a secluded hermitage where he could spend his life becoming closer to God, he retired to a mountain near Chartreuse in Dauphiny (in modern France) in 1084, and with the help of Saint Hugh of Grenoble, he founded what became the first house of the Carthusian Order. He and his brother Carthusians supported themselves as manuscript copyists. Bruno became an assistant to Pope Urban II in 1090, and supported the pope‘s efforts at reform.
Retiring from public life, Bruno and his companions built a hermitage at Torre, Italy where, 1095, the monastery of Saint Stephen was built. Bruno combined in the religious life the eremetical and the cenobitic, both hermit and monk. His learning and insight are apparent from his scriptural commentaries.
man holding a book and being illuminated by a ray of light
star on his breast
globe under his feet
chalice with the Sacred Host
man refusing a mitre
A Garner of Saints, by Allen Banks Hinds, M.A.
Short Lives of the Saints, by Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly
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
“Saint Bruno“. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 October 2023. Web. 6 October 2023. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-bruno/>
St. Bruno was born in Cologne of the prominent Hartenfaust family. He studied at the Cathedral school at Rheims, and on his return to Cologne about 1055, was ordained and became a Canon at St. Cunibert’s. He returned to Rheims in 1056 as professor of theology, became head of the school the following year, and remained there until 1074, when he was appointed chancellor of Rheims by its archbishop, Manasses. Bruno was forced to flee Rheims when he and several other priests denounced Manasses in 1076 as unfit for the office of Papal Legate.
Bruno later returned to Cologne but went back to Rheims in 1080 when Manasses was deposed, and though the people of Rheims wanted to make Bruno archbishop, he decided to pursue an eremitical life. He became a hermit under Abbot St. Robert of Molesmes (who later founded Citeaux) but then moved on to Grenoble with six companions in 1084. They were assigned a place for their hermitages in a desolate, mountainous, alpine area called La Grande Chartreuse, by Bishop St. Hugh of Grenoble, whose confessor Bruno became.
They built an oratory and individual cells, roughly followed the rule of St. Benedict, and thus began the Carthusian Order. The Cathusians are 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.They embraced a life of poverty, manual work, prayer, and transcribing manuscripts, though as yet they had no written rule.
The fame of the group and their founder spread, and in 1090, Bruno was brought to Rome, against his wishes, by Pope Urban II as Papal Adviser in the reformation of the clergy. Pope Urban II had been a student of Bruno’s at Rheims and is perhaps most well known as the Pope who called for the first crusade. Bruno persuaded Urban to allow him to resume his eremitical state, founded St. Mary’s at La Torre in Calabria, declined the Pope’s offer of the archbishopric of Reggio, became a close friend of Count Robert of Sicily, and remained there until his death on October 6. He wrote several commentaries on the psalms and on St. Paul’s epistles. He was never formally canonized because of the Carthusians’ aversion to public honors but Pope Leo X granted the Carthusians permission to celebrate his feast in 1514, and his name was placed on the Roman calendar in 1623.
His feast day is October 6. St. Bruno is the patron of diabolic possession and Ruthenia (parts of modern day Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, & Poland).
San Bruno, vetrata nel chiostro della Certosa di Serra San Bruno
São Bruno, vitral no claustro da Cartuxa da Serra de São Bruno
Confessor, ecclesiastical writer, and founder of the Carthusian Order. He was born at Cologne about the year 1030; died 6 October, 1101. He is usually represented with a death's head in his hands, a book and a cross, or crowned with seven stars; or with a roll bearing the device O Bonitas. His feast is kept on the 6th of October.
According to tradition, St. Bruno belonged to the family of Hartenfaust, or Hardebüst, one of the principal families of the city, and it is in remembrance of this origin that different members of the family of Hartenfaust have received from the Carthusians either some special prayers for the dead, as in the case of Peter Bruno Hartenfaust in 1714, and Louis Alexander Hartenfaust, Baron of Laach, in 1740; or a personal affiliation with the order, as with Louis Bruno of Hardevüst, Baron of Laach and Burgomaster of the town of Bergues-S. Winnoc, in the Diocese of Cambrai, with whom the Hardevüst family in the male line became extinct on 22 March, 1784.
We have little information about the childhood and youth of St. Bruno. Born at Cologne, he would have studied at the city college, or collegial of St. Cunibert. While still quite young (a pueris) he went to complete his education at Reims, attracted by the reputation of the episcopal school and of its director, Heriman. There he finished his classical studies and perfected himself in the sacred sciences which at that time consisted principally of the study of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers. He became there, according to the testimony of his contemporaries, learned both in human and in Divine science.
His education completed, St. Bruno returned to Cologne, where he was provided with a canonry at St. Cunibert's, and, according to the most probable opinion, was elevated to the priestly dignity. This was about the year 1055. In 1056 Bishop Gervais recalled him to Reims, to aid his former master Heriman in the direction of the school. The latter was already turning his attention towards a more perfect form of life, and when he at last left the world to enter the religious life, in 1057, St. Bruno found himself head of the episcopal school, or écolâtre, a post difficult as it was elevated, for it then included the direction of the public schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese. For about twenty years, from 1057 to 1075, he maintained the prestige which the school of Reims has attained under its former masters, Remi of Auxerre, Hucbald of St. Amand, Gerbert, and lastly Heriman. Of the excellence of his teaching we have a proof in the funereal titles composed in his honour, which celebrate his eloquence, his poetic, philosophical, and above all his exegetical and theological, talents; and also in the merits of his pupils, amongst whom were Eudes of Châtillon, afterwards Urban II, Rangier, Cardinal and Bishop of Reggio, Robert, Bishop of Langres, and a large number of prelates and abbots.
In 1075 St. Bruno was appointed chancellor of the church of Reims, and had then to give himself especially to the administration of the diocese. Meanwhile the pious Bishop Gervais, friend of St. Bruno, had been succeeded by Manasses de Gournai, who quickly became odious for his impiety and violence. The chancellor and two other canons were commissioned to bear to the papal legate, Hugh of Die, the complaints of the indignant clergy, and at the Council of Autun, 1077, they obtained the suspension of the unworthy prelate. The latter's reply was to raze the houses of his accusers, confiscate their goods, sell their benefices, and appeal to the pope. Bruno then absented himself from Reims for a while, and went probably to Rome to defend the justice of his cause. It was only in 1080 that a definite sentence, confirmed by a rising of the people, compelled Manasses to withdraw and take refuge with the Emperor Henry IV. Free then to choose another bishop, the clergy were on the point of uniting their vote upon the chancellor. He, however, had far different designs in view. According to a tradition preserved in the Carthusian Order, Bruno was persuaded to abandon the world by the sight of a celebrated prodigy, popularized by the brush of Lesueur--the triple resurrection of the Parisian doctor, Raymond Diocres. To this tradition may be opposed the silence of contemporaries, and of the first biographers of the saint; the silence of Bruno himself in his letter to Raoul le Vert, Provost of Reims; and the impossibility of proving that he ever visited Paris. He had no need of such an extraordinary argument to cause him to leave the world. Some time before, when in conversation with two of his friends, Raoul and Fulcius, canons of Reims like himself, they had been so enkindled with the love of God and the desire of eternal goods that they had made a vow to abandon the world and to embrace the religious life. This vow, uttered in 1077, could not be put into execution until 1080, owing to various circumstances.
The first idea of St. Bruno on leaving Reims seems to have been to place himself and his companions under the direction of an eminent solitary, St. Robert, who had recently (1075) settled at Molesme in the Diocese of Langres, together with a band of other solitaries who were later on (1098) to form the Cistercian Order. But he soon found that this was not his vocation, and after a short sojourn at Sèche-Fontaine near Molesme, he left two of his companions, Peter and Lambert, and betook himself with six others to Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble, and, according to some authors, one of his pupils. The bishop, to whom God had shown these men in a dream, under the image of seven stars, conducted and installed them himself (1084) in a wild spot on the Alps of Dauphiné named Chartreuse, about four leagues from Grenoble, in the midst of precipitous rocks and mountains almost always covered with snow. With St. Bruno were Landuin, the two Stephens of Bourg and Die, canons of Sts. Rufus, and Hugh the Chaplain, "all, the most learned men of their time", and two laymen, Andrew and Guérin, who afterwards became the first lay brothers. They built a little monastery where they lived in deep retreat and poverty, entirely occupied in prayer and study, and frequently honoured by the visits of St. Hugh who became like one of themselves. Their manner of life has been recorded by a contemporary, Guibert of Nogent, who visited them in their solitude. (De Vitâ suâ, I, ii.)
Meanwhile, another pupil of St. Bruno, Eudes of Châtillon, had become pope under the name of Urban II (1088). Resolved to continue the work of reform commenced by Gregory VII, and being obliged to struggle against the antipope, Guibert of Ravenna, and the Emperor Henry IV, he sought to surround himself with devoted allies and called his ancient master ad Sedis Apostolicae servitium. Thus the solitary found himself obliged to leave the spot where he had spent more than six years in retreat, followed by a part of his community, who could not make up their minds to live separated from him (1090). It is difficult to assign the place which he then occupied at the pontifical court, or his influence in contemporary events, which was entirely hidden and confidential. Lodged in the palace of the pope himself and admitted to his councils, and charged, moreover, with other collaborators, in preparing matters for the numerous councils of this period, we must give him some credit for their results. But he took care always to keep himself in the background, and although he seems to have assisted at the Council of Benevento (March, 1091), we find no evidence of his having been present at the Councils of Troja (March, 1093), of Piacenza (March, 1095), or of Clermont (November, 1095). His part in history is effaced. All that we can say with certainty is that he seconded with all his power the sovereign pontiff in his efforts for the reform of the clergy, efforts inaugurated at the Council of Melfi (1089) and continued at that of Benevento. A short time after the arrival of St. Bruno, the pope had been obliged to abandon Rome before the victorious forces of the emperor and the antipope. He withdrew with all his court to the south of Italy.
During the voyage, the former professor of Reims attracted the attention of the clergy of Reggio in further Calabria, which had just lost its archbishop Arnulph (1090), and their votes were given to him. The pope and the Norman prince, Roger, Duke of Apulia, strongly approved of the election and pressed St. Bruno to accept it. In a similar juncture at Reims he had escaped by flight; this time he again escaped by causing Rangier, one of his former pupils, to be elected, who was fortunately near by at the Benedictine Abbey of La Cava near Salerno. But he feared that such attempts would be renewed; moreover he was weary of the agitated life imposed upon him, and solitude ever invited him. He begged, therefore, and after much trouble obtained, the pope's permission to return again to his solitary life. His intention was to rejoin his brethren in Dauphiné, as a letter addressed to them makes clear. But the will of Urban II kept him in Italy, near the papal court, to which he could be called at need. The place chosen for his new retreat by St. Bruno and some followers who had joined him was in the Diocese of Squillace, on the eastern slope of the great chain which crosses Calabria from north to south, and in a high valley three miles long and two in width, covered with forest. The new solitaries constructed a little chapel of planks for their pious reunions and, in the depths of the woods, cabins covered with mud for their habitations. A legend says that St. Bruno whilst at prayer was discovered by the hounds of Roger, Great Count of Sicily and Calabria and uncle of the Duke of Apulia, who was then hunting in the neighbourhood, and who thus learnt to know and venerate him; but the count had no need to wait for that occasion to know him, for it was probably upon his invitation that the new solitaries settled upon his domains. That same year (1091) he visited them, made them a grant of the lands they occupied, and a close friendship was formed between them. More than once St. Bruno went to Mileto to take part in the joys and sorrows of the noble family, to visit the count when sick (1098 and 1101), and to baptize his son Roger (1097), the future King of Sicily. But more often it was Roger who went into the desert to visit his friends, and when, through his generosity, the monastery of St. Stephen was built, in 1095, near the hermitage of St. Mary, there was erected adjoining it a little country house at which he loved to pass the time left free from governing his State.
Meanwhile the friends of St. Bruno died one after the other: Urban II in 1099; Landuin, the prior of the Grand Chartreuse, his first companion, in 1100; Count Roger in 1101. His own time was near at hand. Before his death he gathered for the last time his brethren round him and made in their presence a profession of the Catholic Faith, the words of which have been preserved. He affirms with special emphasis his faith in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and in the real presence of Our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist--a protestation against the two heresies which had troubled that century, the tritheism of Roscelin, and the impanation of Berengarius. After his death, the Carthusians of Calabria, following a frequent custom of the Middle Ages by which the Christian world was associated with the death of its saints, dispatched a rolliger, a servant of the convent laden with a long roll of parchment, hung round his neck, who passed through Italy, France, Germany, and England. He stopped at the principal churches and communities to announce the death, and in return, the churches, communities, or chapters inscribed upon his roll, in prose or verse, the expression of their regrets, with promises of prayers. Many of these rolls have been preserved, but few are so extensive or so full of praise as that about St. Bruno. A hundred and seventy-eight witnesses, of whom many had known the deceased, celebrated the extent of his knowledge and the fruitfulness of his instruction. Strangers to him were above all struck by his great knowledge and talents. But his disciples praised his three chief virtues--his great spirit of prayer, an extreme mortification, and a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Both the churches built by him in the desert were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin: Our Lady of Casalibus in Dauphiné, Our Lady Della Torre in Calabria; and, faithful to his inspirations, the Carthusian Statutes proclaim the Mother of God the first and chief patron of all the houses of the order, whoever may be their particular patron.
St. Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of St. Mary, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. He had never been formally canonized. His cult, authorized for the Carthusian Order by Leo X in 1514, was extended to the whole church by Gregory XV, 17 February, 1623, as a semi-double feast, and elevated to the class of doubles by Clement X, 14 March, 1674. St. Bruno is the popular saint of Calabria; every year a great multitude resort to the Charterhouse of St. Stephen, on the Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost, when his relics are borne in procession to the hermitage of St. Mary, where he lived, and the people visit the spots sanctified by his presence. An immense number of medals are struck in his honour and distributed to the crowd, and the little Carthusian habits, which so many children of the neighbourhood wear, are blessed. He is especially invoked, and successfully, for the deliverance of those possessed.
As a writer and founder of an order, St. Bruno occupies an important place in the history of the eleventh century. He composed commentaries on the Psalms and on the Epistles of St. Paul, the former written probably during his professorship at Reims, the latter during his stay at the Grande Chartreuse if we may believe an old manuscript seen by Mabillon--"Explicit glosarius Brunonis heremitae super Epistolas B. Pauli." Two letters of his still remain, also his profession of faith, and a short elegy on contempt for the world which shows that he cultivated poetry. The "Commentaries" disclose to us a man of learning; he knows a little Hebrew and Greek and uses it to explain, or if need be, rectify the Vulgate; he is familiar with the Fathers, especially St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, his favourites. "His style", says Dom Rivet, "is concise, clear, nervous and simple, and his Latin as good as could be expected of that century: it would be difficult to find a composition of this kind at once more solid and more luminous, more concise and more clear". His writings have been published several times: at Paris, 1509-24; Cologne, 1611-40; Migne, Latin Patrology, CLII, CLIII, Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1891. The Paris edition of 1524 and those of Cologne include also some sermons and homilies which may be more justly attributed to St. Bruno, Bishop of Segni. The Preface of the Blessed Virgin has also been wrongly ascribed to him; it is long anterior, though he may have contributed to introduce it into the liturgy.
St. Bruno's distinction as the founder of an order was that he introduced into the religious life the mixed form, or union of the eremitical and cenobite modes of monasticism, a medium between the Camaldolese Rule and that of St. Benedict. He wrote no rule, but he left behind him two institutions which had little connection with each other--that of Dauphiné and that of Calabria. The foundation of Calabria, somewhat like the Camaldolese, comprised two classes of religious: hermits, who had the direction of the order, and cenobites who did not feel called to the solitary life; it only lasted a century, did not rise to more than five houses, and finally, in 1191, united with the Cistercian Order. The foundation of Grenoble, more like the rule of St. Benedict, comprised only one kind of religious, subject to a uniform discipline, and the greater part of whose life was spent in solitude, without, however, the complete exclusion of the conventual life. This life spread throughout Europe, numbered 250 monasteries, and in spite of many trials continues to this day.
The great figure of St. Bruno has been often sketched by artists and has inspired more than one masterpiece: in sculpture, for example, the famous statue by Houdon, at St. Mary of the Angels in Rome, "which would speak if his rule did not compel him to silence"; in painting, the fine picture by Zurbaran, in the Seville museum, representing Urban II and St. Bruno in conference; the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bruno, by Guercino at Bologna; and above all the twenty-two pictures forming the gallery of St. Bruno in the museum of the Louvre, "a masterpiece of Le Sueur and of the French school".
Mougel, Ambrose. "St. Bruno." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 31 Mar. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03014b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2021 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
St. Bruno, Confessor, Founder of the Carthusians
From the short chronicle of the four first priors of the Chartreuse, compiled by Guigo, the fifth prior, as it seems, whose eulogy is added in MSS. ap. Labb. Bibl. MSS. t. 1, p. 638, and the Bollandists; from the larger chronicle called Chronica de exordio Ordinis Carthusiensis, or Tr. de Narratione historiæ inchoationis et promotionis Ordinis Carthus, containing the history of the five first priors, written about the year 1250, according to F. Bye; from St. Bruno’s life by Fr. du Puitz or Puteanus, general of the Order, in 1508, printed at Basil in 1515; from his life compiled by Guibert of Nogent, in 1101, and the life of St. Hugh of Grenoble, written by Guy, the fifth general of the Carthusians. See Mabillon, Annal. Bened. t. 5, p. 202, et Act. Ben. t. 9. Camillus Tutinus, in Ordinis Carth. historiæ prospectu; Columbius, Diss. de Carthusianorum initiis; Masson, the learned general of the Order, l. 1. Annalium Carthus. Hercules Zanotti in Italica historia S. Brunonis, printed at Bologna in 1741. Continuators of the Hist. Littéraire de la France, t. 9, p. 233. F. Longueval, Hist. de l’Eglise de France, l. 22, t. 8, p. 117. Bye the Bollandist, t. 3, Oct. p. 491 to 777.
THE MOST pious and learned Cardinal Bona, one of the greatest lights, not only of the Cistercian Order, but of the whole church, speaking of the Carthusian monks, of whose institute St. Bruno was the founder, calls them, “the great miracles of the world; men living in the flesh as out of the flesh; the angels of the earth, representing John the Baptist in the wilderness; the principal ornament of the church; eagles soaring up to heaven, whose state is justly preferred to the institutes of all other religious Orders.” 1 St. Bruno was descended of an ancient and honourable family, and born at Cologn, not after the middle of the eleventh century, as some mistake, but about the year 1030, as the sequel of his life demonstrates. In his infancy he seemed above the usual weaknesses of that age, and nothing childish ever appeared in his manners. His religious parents hoping to secure his virtue by a good education, placed him very young in the college of the clergy of St. Cunibert’s church, where he gave extraordinary proofs of his piety, capacity, and learning, insomuch that St. Anno, then bishop of Cologn, preferred him to a canonry in that church. He was yet young when he left Cologn, and went to Rheims for his greater improvement in his studies, moved probably by the reputation of the school kept by the clergy of that church. 2 Bruno was received by them with great marks of distinction. He took in the whole circle of the sciences; was a good poet for that age, but excelled chiefly in philosophy and theology, so that these titles of poet, philosopher, and divine, were given him by contemporary writers by way of eminence, and he was regarded as a great master and model of the schools. The historians of that age speak still with greater admiration of his singular piety. 3 Heriman, canon and scolasticus of Rheims, resigning his dignities, and renouncing the world to make the study of true wisdom his whole occupation, Gervasius, who was made archbishop of Rheims in 1056, made Bruno scholasticus, to which dignity then belonged the direction of the studies and all the great schools of the diocess. The prudence and extraordinary learning of the saint shone with great lustre in this station; in all his lessons and precepts he had chiefly in view to conduct men to God, and to make them know and respect his holy law. Many eminent scholars in philosophy and divinity did him honour by their proficiency and abilities, and carried his reputation into distant parts; among these Odo became afterwards cardinal bishop of Ostia, and at length pope, under the name of Urban II. Robert of Burgundy, bishop of Langres, brother to two dukes of Burgundy, and grandson to King Robert; Rangier, cardinal archbishop of Reggio, (after St. Bruno had refused that dignity,) and many other learned prelates and abbots of that age mention it as a particular honour and happiness, that they had been Bruno’s scholars. Such was his reputation that he was looked upon as the light of churches, the doctor of doctors, the glory of the two nations of Germany and France, the ornament of the age, the model of good men, and the mirror of the world, to use the expressions of an ancient writer. He taught a considerable time in the church of Rheims; and is said, by the author of his life to have been a long time the support of that great diocess; by which expression he seems to have borne the weight of the spiritual government under the archbishop Gervasius. That prelate dying in 1067, Manasses I. by open simony got possession of that metropolitical church, and oppressed it with most tyrannical vexations and enormities. Bruno retained under him his authority and dignities, particularly that of chancellor of the diocess, in which office he signed with him the charter of the foundations of St. Martin aux Jumeaux, and some other deeds of donations to monasteries. Yet he vigorously opposed his criminal projects. Hugh of Die, the pope’s legate, summoned Manasses to appear at a council which he held at Autun in 1077, and upon his refusing to obey the summons, declared him suspended from his functions. St. Bruno, Manasses the provost, and Poncius, a canon of Rheims, accused him in this council; in which affair our saint behaved with so much prudence and piety, that the legate writing to the pope, exceedingly extolled his virtue and wisdom, styling him the most worthy doctor of the church of Rheims, 4 and recommending him to his holiness as one excellently qualified to give him good counsel, and to assist him in the churches of France in promoting the cause of God. The simoniacal usurper, exasperated against the three canons who appeared in the council against him, caused their houses to be broken open and plundered, and sold their prebends. The persecuted canons took refuge in the castle of the count of Rouci, and remained there till August 1078, as appears by a letter which the simoniacal archbishop at that time wrote against them to the pope.
Before this time St. Bruno had concerted the project of his retreat, of which he gives the following account in his letter to Raoul or Ralph, provost of Rheims, to which dignity he was raised in 1077, upon the resignation of Manasses. St. Bruno, this Ralph, and another canon of Rheims named Fulcius, in a conversation which they had one day together in one Adam’s garden, discoursed on the vanity and false pleasures of the world, and on the joys of eternal life, and being strongly affected with their serious reflections, promised one another to forsake the world. They deferred the execution of this engagement till Fulcius should return from Rome, whither he was going; and he being detained there, Ralph slackened in his resolution, and continuing at Rheims, was afterwards made archbishop of that see. But Bruno persevered in his resolution of embracing a state of religious retirement. Serious meditation increased in him daily his sense of the inestimable happiness of a glorious eternity, and his abhorrence of the world. Thus he forsook it in a time of the most flattering prosperity, when he enjoyed in it riches, honours, and the favour of men, and when the church of Rheims was ready to choose him archbishop in the room of Manasses, who had been then convicted of simony and deposed. He resigned his benefice, quitted his friends, and renounced whatever held him in the world, and persuaded some of his friends to accompany him into solitude, who were men of great endowments and virtue, and who abundantly made up the loss of his two first companions in this design; he seems first to have retired to Reciac or Roe, a fortified town and castle on the Axona or Aisne in Champagne, the seat of Count Ebal, who had zealously joined St. Bruno and others in opposing the impiety of Manasses. After some time he went to Cologn, his native country; and some time after, was called back to his canonry at Rheims; but making there a very short stay, he repaired to Saisse-Fontaine, in the diocess of Langres, where he lived some time with some of his scholars and companions. Two of these, named Peter and Lambert, built there a church, which was afterwards united to the abbey of Molesme.
In this solitude Bruno, with an earnest desire of aiming at true perfection in virtue, considered with himself, and deliberated with his companions, what it was best for him to do, spending his time in the exercises of holy solitude, penance, and prayer. He addressed himself for advice to a monk of great experience and sanctity, that is, to St. Robert, abbot of Molesme, who exhorted him to apply to Hugh, bishop of Grenoble, who was truly a servant of God, and a person better qualified than any other to assist him in his design. 5 St. Bruno followed this direction, being informed that in the diocess of Grenoble, there were woods, rocks, and deserts most suitable to his desires of finding perfect solitude, and that this holy prelate would certainly favour his design. Six of those who had accompanied him in his retreat, attended him on this occasion, namely, Landwin, who afterwards succeeded him in the office of prior of the great Chartreuse; Stephen of Bourg, and Stephen of Die, both canons of St. Rufus in Dauphine; Hugh, whom they called the chaplain, because he was the only priest among them, and two laymen, Andrew and Guerin. St. Bruno and these six companions arrived at Grenoble about midsummer in 1084, and cast themselves at the feet of St. Hugh, begging of him some place in his diocess, where they might serve God, remote from worldly affairs, and without being burdensome to men. The holy prelate understanding their errand, rejoiced exceedingly, and received them with open arms, not doubting but these seven strangers were represented to him in a vision he had the night before in his sleep; wherein he thought he saw God himself building a church in the desert of his diocess called the Chartreuse, and seven stars rising from the ground, and forming a circle which went before him to that place, as it were, to shew him the way to that church. 6 He embraced them very lovingly, thinking he could never sufficiently commend their generous resolution; and assigned them that desert of Chartreuse for their retreat, promising his utmost assistance to establish them there; but to the end they might be armed against the difficulties they would meet with, lest they should enter upon so great an undertaking without having well considered it: he, at the same time, represented to them the dismal situation of that solitude, beset with very high craggy rocks, almost all the year covered with snow and thick fogs, which rendered them not habitable. This relation did not daunt the servants of God: on the contrary, joy, painted on their faces, expressed their satisfaction for having found so convenient a retirement, cut off from the society of men. St. Hugh having kept them some days in his palace, conducted them to this place, and made over to them all the right he had in that forest; and some time after, Siguin, abbot of Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne, who was joint lord of the same. Bruno and his companions immediately built an oratory there, and very small cells, at a little distance one from the other, like the ancient Lauras of Palestine. Such was the original of the Order of the Carthusians, which took its name from this desert of Chartreuse. 7 Some have dated its institution in 1086, others in 1085; but it is clearly proved by Mabillon 8 that St. Bruno retired to this wilderness in June, 1084, as one of his epitaphs, and Sigebert of Gemblours, a contemporary writer, expressly mention. St. Hugh, by a charter dated in the month following, forbade any woman to go into their lands, or any person to fish, hunt, or drive cattle that way. They first built a church on a summit, and cells near it, in which they lived two together in each cell, soon after single, meeting in church at matins and vespers: other hours, prime, tierce, sext, none, and compline, they recited in their cells. They never took two refections in a day except on the greater festivals, on which they ate together in a refectory. On other days they ate in their cells as hermits. Pulse was given them in a certain measure on days when it was allowed them.
It is hard to represent the wonderful life of those holy anchorites in their desert. Guibert of Nogent 9 says, they passed the six days of the week in their separate cells, but spent the Sunday together. At parting, each took with him one loaf and one kind of pulse for his subsistence the rest of the week. Every thing amongst them was extremely mean and poor; even in their church they had neither gold nor silver, except a silver chalice. They scarcely ever spoke to one another but by signs; for they obliged themselves to perpetual silence, that their whole conversation might be with God. They spent a considerable part of the day in reciting his praises, and seemed to have no other use of their bodies than to afflict and humble them with austerities. Labour succeeded prayer. It was their chief employ to copy pious books, by which they endeavoured to earn their subsistence, that they might not be burdensome to any. Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluni, fifty years after St. Bruno, writes of them: “Their dress is meaner and poorer than that of other monks; so short and scanty, and so rough, that the very sight affrights one.—They wear coarse hair shirts next their skin, fast almost perpetually; eat only bran bread; never touch flesh, either sick or well; never buy fish, but eat it if given them as an alms; eat eggs and cheese on Sundays and Thursdays; on
Tuesdays and Saturdays their fare is pulse or herbs boiled; on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays they take nothing but bread and water; and they have only one meal a day, except within the octaves of Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, Epiphany, and some other festivals. Their constant occupation is praying, reading, and manual labour, which consists chiefly in transcribing books. They say the lesser hours of the divine office in their cells at the times when the bell rings; but meet together at vespers and matins with wonderful recollection. They say mass only on Sundays and Festivals.” 10 This manner of life they followed without any written rule; though Mabillon thinks they conformed to that of St. Benedict in most points, which were compatible with their plan of an eremitical life. 11 But others, with Bue the Bollandist, find no resemblance, and say the practices were peculiar to their institute without being borrowed from any other in particular. St. Bruno left his disciples fervent observers of those customs and practices which he had established among them. Guigo or Guy, fifth prior of the Chartreuse, in 1228, drew up in writing an abstract of their customs. 12 Several general chapters have added new statutes; of which a complete code was compiled in 1581, and approved by Innocent XI. in 1688. This may be called the Rule of the Carthusians. Voltaire copies this remark of Fleury, of the Maurist monks in the Literary History of France and others, that this is the only ancient religious Order in the Church which never had any reform, and has never stood in need of any, which is owing to their entire sequestration from commerce with the world, and to the extreme vigilance of superiors and visitors in never allowing a door to be opened for mitigations and dispensation to creep in. “The Carthusians,” says Voltaire, “entirely consecrate their time to fasting, to silence, to solitude, and prayer; perfectly quiet in the midst of a tumultuous world, the noise of which scarcely ever reaches their ears; knowing their respective sovereigns no otherwise than by their prayers in which their names are inserted.” This institute has been regarded by the pastors of the Church as the most perfect model of a penitential and contemplative state, in which persons devote themselves to the most perfect sanctification of their souls, and by their tears and prayers endeavour to draw down the divine mercy on sinners and on the whole world. 13
St. Bruno is styled by the writers of that age Master of the Chartreuse, and sometimes prior; for being the person who led the rest into that course of life, he was looked upon by them as their superior; and as he was the most learned, so he also excelled them in the fervour of his charity, compunction, and humility. St. Hugh, who at first received him as his child, became so great an admirer of his virtue that he took him for his father and spiritual director; and without regard to the difficulty of the ways, he often went from Grenoble to the Chartreuse, to enjoy the heavenly conversation of St. Bruno, and improve himself by his advice and example. That holy prelate felt an inexpressible joy in his heart as often as he heard any new novice had joined these true disciples of the cross; a joy which was often renewed in him; for their example awakened many from their spiritual lethargy in the world, and persons of all ages, even young boys, ran to the desert to take up the cross of Christ in their company. The Count of Nevers, a lord of singular piety, made a long stay with them to learn to serve God with new fervour, and returned praising God for the wonders which his right-hand works in the hearts in which he dwells. He sent them soon after a rich present of plate, but they sent it back with excuses that it was useless to them. He then sent them a large quantity of leather and parchment for their books.
St. Bruno had not governed this congregation six years when Pope Urban II. who had formerly been his scholar at Rheims, being informed of the holy life which he led, and being, from his own personal acquaintance, fully convinced of his great prudence and learning, sent him a severe order to repair to Rome, that he might assist him by his counsels in the government of the Church. The humble monk could have scarcely met with a more severe trial of his obedience, or made a greater sacrifice. Nevertheless, without further deliberation, he set out in 1089, having nominated Landuin prior at the Chartreuse. The Pope himself at the same time had recommended that house to the protection of Siguin, abbot of Chaise Dieu. The departure of the Saint was an inexpressible grief to his disciples. They to whom the greatest austerities were pleasures, and the most hideous desert a paradise, whilst they enjoyed the presence of such a guide and master, found their rocks insupportable without him. The saint endeavoured in vain to comfort them, promising them he would do whatever lay in his power to return to them as soon as possible. Several of them protested they would never be parted from him, and these he took with him to Rome. The rest, soon after he had quitted them, left the Chartreuse; but, as they continued to live together, they were soon prevailed upon by Landuin to return to their former habitations, of which the monks of Chaise Dieu had taken possession upon their leaving it. St. Bruno was received by the Pope with all imaginable tokens of esteem and affection. His holiness kept him in his palace near his person, and consulted him in all weighty affairs of religion and conscience. By his order also the saint’s companions had an apartment assigned them in the city where they endeavoured to live as they had done in the desert; but they soon found it was not so easy a matter there to devote themselves wholly to their holy meditations, pious reading, singing psalms, and fervent prayer, in which consisted all their satisfaction. They could not shun distracting visits, nor observe such silence as they had done among the rocks, which was so useful to them. This alteration drew tears from their eyes, and made them sigh for the solitude they had quitted. They complained to St. Bruno that they found not in the city what they sought. The saint ardently desired to conduct them back to the mountain of the Chartreuse; but not being able to obtain that leave for himself, he prevailed that they might return to that desert, where the rest of their companions had already recovered the possession of their former cells, which were restored to them by the abbot of Chaise-Dieu to the great joy of St. Hugh, and of Hugh archbishop of Lyons, legate of the holy see, who both conducted them back, and saw them again settled there.
The tumult of a court grew every day more insupportable to St. Bruno, who had tasted the sweets of solitude and uninterrupted contemplation, and trembled amidst the distractions of the world. The pope had too great a value for such a friend to grant his request of returning to the Chartreuse; he even pressed him to accept the archbishopric of Reggio in Calabria; but the holy man excused himself with so great earnestness, and redoubled his importunities for the liberty of living to himself in solitude, that his holiness at length thought he could no longer offer violence to his holy inclinations, and consented that he might retire into some wilderness in the mountains of Calabria. The saint found a convenient solitude in the diocess of Squillaci, where he settled in 1090, with some new disciples whom he had gained in Rome. Here he betook himself to the exercises of a solitary life with more joy and fervour than ever. Remembering the engagement which his ancient friend, Ralph, the provost of Rheims, had made to embrace a solitary life, he wrote him from this desert an elegant and tender letter, inviting him to his hermitage, putting him
in mind of his promise and the obligation he had taken upon himself, and giving him an agreeable and cheerful description of his desert, and of the uninterrupted scenes of pure joy and delights which he and his companions found in it. From the turn of this letter it sufficiently appears how far the saint was from the least disposition of melancholy, moroseness, or harsh severity. Gaiety of soul, which always attends virtue, is particularly necessary in all who are called to a life of perfect solitude, in which nothing is more pernicious than sadness, and to which nothing is more contrary than an inclination to excessive pensiveness. Those who labour under that weakness, ought generally to be judged unfit for a state of strict perpetual solitude; for which great fervour, which allows no moments for sloth, is likewise an essential disposition. Landuin, prior of the Chartreuse, went into Calabria to consult St. Bruno about the form of living which our saint had instituted at the Chartreuse; for those disciples were desirous not to depart in the least point from the spirit and rule of their holy master. 14 St. Bruno wrote them an admirable letter, full of tender charity and the spirit of God, which he sent them by Landuin when he returned in 1099. In this letter he instructed them in all the practices of a solitary life, solved the difficulties which they proposed to him, comforted them in their afflictions, and encouraged them to perseverance and watchfulness against all the attacks of their enemies. 15
The principal works of St. Bruno are Comments on the Psalter, and on St. Paul’s Epistles, both of which are demonstrated 16 to be the genuine productions of our saint, and answer the character given of St. Bruno, that he was one of the most learned men, not only of the age in which he lived, but of most others. He understood both the Hebrew and Greek languages, and was versed in the writings of the fathers, especially those of St. Ambrose and St. Austin. He is a strenuous advocate for the doctrine of St. Austin with regard to the mysteries of divine grace. In his Exposition of the Psalms he clears the literal sense, but always refers it to the spiritual, applying every thing to Christ and his Church, as the sense principally meant by the Holy Ghost. A judicious modern critic writes thus of this work: 17 “Whoever shall attentively read this Commentary, will agree that it would be hard to find a work of this kind which is at the same time more clear, solid, and full, and more concise. If it were better known it would be more made use of. Persons would be convinced that it is an excellent work to give the key for the true understanding of the psalms, and that the author was master of all the sciences, and filled with the spirit of God.—It were to be wished that this Commentary were put into the hands of all the faithful, especially of persons dedicated by their state to the duty of public prayer.” The elegy in fourteen verses, On the contempt of the World, or on the last things, which was composed by St. Bruno, is engraved under the picture of the saint in the choir of the famous Chartreuse of Dijon. It is a feeling complaint of the general insensibility of men in thinking so little on a happy and a miserable eternity, and is inserted in several Latin prayer-books. Several other comments on the scripture and other writings, have been ascribed to this saint, but belong some to St. Bruno, bishop of Segni, others to St. Bruno, bishop of Wurtzbourg, who both flourished in the same age. 18St. Bruno being settled in his desert in the diocess of Squillaci had no thoughts but of living unknown to men; but, as retired as he was, had not been long in this new hermitage, when Roger, sovereign count of Sicily and Calabria, discovered him one day as he was hunting in that wood. The prince having conversed with him, was so moved by his virtue, that he was extremely desirous to testify his esteem for him by some remarkable favours; but a love of poverty, and a spirit of disinterestedness would not permit the holy man to take advantage of his generosity in accepting any rich presents. The monastery De la Torre in Calabria, was the second of the Order. 19 St. Bruno established in it the most perfect spirit of humility, contempt of the world, retirement, and mortification, continuing by his counsels and instructions at a distance, to direct the monks of the Great Chartreuse in all spiritual and temporal emergencies. The time being come when God had decreed to reward the labours of his servant, he visited him with a sickness about the latter end of September, 1101. When the holy man perceived his death to draw near, he gathered his monks about his bed, and in their presence, made, as it were, a public confession of his life; then made a profession of his faith, which his disciples copied from his mouth, and preserved. It is very clear and explicit on the mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, and in condemning the heresy of Berengarius, which had lately raised great troubles in the Church. The holy man thus expressed his faith of the sacrament of the altar: “I believe the sacraments which the Church believeth, and in particular that the bread and wine consecrated on the altar are the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ; his true flesh, and his true blood, which we receive for the remission of our sins, and in the hope of eternal life.” 20 He had more fully explained this doctrine of the Church against Berengarius, in his comments on St. Paul. 21 He resigned his soul to God on Sunday the 6th of October, 1101. An account of his death was sent by his monks of La Torre in an encyclical letter to all the neighbouring churches and monasteries, according to the custom, to recommend the souls of persons deceased to their prayers. 22 Near two hundred answers to this letter are extant, and contain the highest eulogiums of the extraordinary virtue, wisdom, and learning of St. Bruno. 23 Lanuin, a disciple of our saint in Calabria, succeeded him in the government of the monastery De la Torre, and was highly esteemed by Pope Paschal II. Fleury is mistaken, 24 in confounding this Lanuin with Landuin of Lucca, whom St. Bruno left Prior of the Great Chartreuse, and who was succeeded by Peter, a native of Bethune in Flanders, who had been the saint’s disciple at Saisse Fontaine, with Lambert, who was prior at De la Torre after the death of Lanuin. 25 St. Bruno was interred in the cemetery of the church of the blessed Virgin de Torre; said by some to have been translated to that of St. Stephen; but improbably; for they were discovered in the former place in 1515. Pope Leo X. had granted in the preceding year an office in his honor to his Order; which is called an equipollent beatification, his eminent sanctity and many miracles after his death not standing in need of the formalities of a scrutiny. In 1623, Gregory XV. by an equipollent canonization extended his office to the whole Church. A bone of his jaw with two teeth was sent to the Great Chartreuse; a finger to the Chartreuse at Paris; and little portions to the Chartreuses of Cologne, his native city, and Friburg.
The motto of St. Bruno are these words of the Psalmist. 26 My eyes prevented the watches: I was troubled, and I spoke not. I had in my mind the eternal years. Lo! I have gone far off, flying away, and I abode in the wilderness. 27 This constant meditation on eternity often broke his rest, and made sleep to flee from his eyes; this animated him with fervour in his retirement, and perpetual penance, and made him watch whole nights in sighs and tears to implore the divine mercy. In this solitude his employment was sometimes to pour forth his soul in songs of praise, and to entertain himself on the sweet motives of the divine love; sometimes the remembrance of eternal joys comforted his soul, and gave him already a kind of foretaste of them; and he often considered the terrors of the divine judgments, and the eternal torments prepared for sinners, being strongly affected with the dread of that which is of all others the most grievous, the pain of loss, or the everlasting privation of God. In a feeling meditation on this subject, he puts the following words in the mouth of a damned soul: “Add new tortures to the racks which I endure: may a million of fresh executioners tear me for all eternity, provided I be not totally deprived of my God. The most piercing flames will be to me soft roses; the fury of devils agreeable embraces; the horrible shrieks of those dungeons a pleasant harmony; these frightful prisons delightful palaces, could I but be freed from what I feel by the loss of God.” 28
Note 2. Baldericus, abbot of Bourgueil, in the same age, assures us that St. Bruno performed his studies at Rheims. From a doubtful passage in the Chronicle of the abbey of St. Maxentius, some say that St. Bruno studied philosophy some time under Berengarius at Tours. He could never study at Paris, or take there the degree of doctor. Some writers two hundred years after St. Bruno’s time, from whom Gerson copied this account, whom Launoy falsely pretends to be the first that relates it, (Diss. de Secess. Brun.) ascribed his conversion to a miraculous apparition of a noted doctor of Paris, where St. Bruno might pass, though he never lived in that city. They relate that a certain eminent doctor’s body being carried to the church in Paris in order to be buried, while the canons were singing the office for the dead, he lifted up his head upon the bier, and said, with a dreadful voice, “By the just judgment of God I am accused.” That at a second time he said, “I am judged.” At a third time, “lam condemned.” This story was inserted in the Roman Breviary, but left out by an order of Urban VIII. It is defended by two Jesuits, F. Theophilus Raynaudi and F. Colombi, Diss. De Carthus. Initiis; also, though cooly, by F. Innocent Masson, general of the Carthusians, Annales Ord. Carthus. anno 1687. It is rejected by Dr. Launoy, (Diss. de Recessu Brunonis,) Mabillon, (Act. t. 9, pr.) F. Dubois, the Oratorian, Hist. Paris. l. 11, c. 2, n. 6, 8, &c. The first mention of this story is found in the larger Chronicle written in 1250, and in the Chronicle of St. Bertin, compiled in the close of the thirteenth century, by John of Ipres, &c. about two hundred years after St. Bruno. The saint himself, in the letter he wrote from Calabria to Ralph, provost of Rheims, assigns other motives of his conversion mentioned above; Guigo, prior of the Chartreuse, in his life of St. Hugh, gives an account of St. Bruno’s retreat without any mention of such a circumstance; Guibert, abbot of Nogent, (who wrote in the same age and diocess,) ascribes it to the horror with which St. Bruno was struck at the scandalous life of the archbishop Manasses I. Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny. l. 2, c. 28, mentions the institution of this Order without speaking of this prodigy, though his intention was to collect a history of miracles. Neither is it mentioned by Sigebert who had then begun his Chronicle of Metz; nor by the author of the Chronicle of St. Maxentius, who often speaks of St. Bruno, &c. This story therefore seems a mere hearsay fiction, injudiciously credited by those who committed it to writing. [back]
Note 7. The Great Chartreuse is situated three long leagues or ten miles from Grenoble to the north, which take up six hours’ tedious travelling, over rugged mountains, which were formerly looked upon as almost impassible; the present roads, bad as they are, have been cut with incredible pains. The monastery stands in a barren plain, in a narrow valley, between two cliffs. The place afforded nothing but wood, stones, and iron; some mills are built upon a rapid torrent, and several woods being cut down, some meadows and gardens have been made with much labour and art. The cells and church are neat, but not stately, though the revenues are said at present to amount to thirty thousand livres a year. The prior never goes out of the inclosure; is general of the Order, but only styled prior of the Great Chartreuse. The name of Chartreuse is given to all other convents of this Order, which by some has been corruptly called in English Charter-house. [back]
Note 12. Carthusians are never allowed to eat flesh, even in the most dangerous sicknesses, which rule Gerson has defended in his Apology for this Order, (Op. t. 2, p. 718, ed. nov.) it being better that some few particulars should bear an extraordinary inconvenience, than that the discipline of an Order should be relaxed by dispensations which soon become too easy and superfluous; neither does flesh ever seem absolutely necessary to health, especially in constitutions formed to a contrary diet. In other Orders, as St. Bennet’s, in which flesh meat is allowed in grievous illnesses, many great and holy men have refused to make use of that indulgence. (See Martenne, in Regul. S. Bened. p. 477.) Carthusians fast eight months in the year; and in Lent, Advent, and on all Fridays eat no white meats, as eggs, milk, butter, or cheese. On Sundays and holidays, they go to the choir at all the hours of the divine office, except compline, and eat together in a common refectory: on other days they go to choir only to sing matins, and lauds at midnight, high mass, and vespers; and recite the other hours privately in their cells, and dine in them alone, their diet being carried to them by a lay-brother, who puts it into each cell at a little window, without speaking a word. Women are not only excluded their inclosure, but even their church; and therefore their church is generally within their house. They are usually permitted to walk abroad together in private roads once a week, but never to eat out of doors, nor to drink anything but water. Only superiors, or others when they address themselves to superiors, are allowed to speak, except on certain days after none. Except at the times appointed, they never stir out of their cells, which are so many houses with three or four little rooms for all necessary purposes, and a little garden. They work in their garden or at some handicraft or art, or they study, being furnished with proper tools and with books. Besides the office of the church, they say every day the office of our Lady, and almost every day the office for the dead, and are obliged to other prayers, vocal and mental.
They always wear a platted hair shirt, and out of modesty sleep in a kind of half dress (different, for the sake of cleanliness and health, from the habit which they wear in the day) on straw beds laid on boards: go to bed at five, six, or seven o’clock; rise again at ten or thereabouts to their double matins of the church office, and our Lady’s; return to rest towards three, and rise at five or six in the morning. St. Bruno was careful to provide a good library of useful and pious books; and this Order has produced several eminent writers on spiritual matters. (See Hist. Littéraire de la France, t. 7, pref. n. 14, et t. 9, pref. n. 150, 151, 152, 153.) Among the works of English Carthusians, those of Walter Hilton, a Carthusian of Bethlehem monastery on the Thames, in 1433, deserve particular esteem for excellent experimental lessons of an interior life. His Ladder of Perfection, published by Mr. A. Woodhead, is well known. Besides his tracts that are printed, several others, not inferior in sentiments of piety, are found in several public and private libraries in the kingdom, particularly in that of Westminster abbey. [back]
Note 13. The church allows religious men of any of the mendicant Orders to exchange their Order for that of the Carthusians, as a state of greater austerity and perfection; but no one can pass from the Carthusians to any other Order, as Fagnanus, the learned canonist, proves at large from several decretals, &c. In Cap. Sane, t. 2, p. 356. [back]
Note 15. See these two letters of St. Bruno, printed in the incomplete edition of his works at Cologn in 1611, and prefixed to the most inaccurate History of the Order of the Carthusians, published by Corbin, a lawyer, at Paris, in 1653, and in Mabillon’s Annales Ben. l. 68, n. 112; l. 69, n. 109, and in the Bollandists, § 41, p. 675. [back]
Note 18. St. Bruno of Segni, a native of Asti, in Piemont, and canon of the same place, distinguished himself by his zeal against Berengarius in the time of Pope Gregory VII. Being chosen bishop of Segni, in the Campagna di Roma, he endeavoured first to shun that dignity, and afterwards resigned it, becoming a monk at Mount Cassino in 1104. He was chosen abbot of that famous monastery in 1107; but after three years and ten months, was compelled by the pope to return to his episcopal charge. He died at Segni in 1125, on the 18th of July, and was canonized by Lucius III. See Chronicon Cassin. l. 4, c. 31, ap. Muratori, Rerum Ital. Scriptor. t. 4, p. 512. Also Petrus Cassinensis, De Vir. Illustr. Cassin. c. 35, ib. t. 6, p. 49. His works were published at Venice, in 2 vols. in 1650, by Dom Maur. Marchesius, monk and dean of Mount Cassino. Among them are found the Sermons, which have been sometimes ascribed to the founder of the Chartreuse. Muratori, (Not. in Chron. Cassin. t. 4, p. 512,) proves very well that the Commentary on the Book of Canticles, which begins, Solomon inspiratus, &c. among the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, is older than that theologian, and belongs to St. Bruno of Segni; but the other, which begins Sonet vox tua, is the work of Aquinas.
Bruno, bishop of Wurtzbourg (Herbipolis) in Franconia, was uncle to the Emperor Conrad II. and a pious and learned prelate. He died on the 17th of May, 1045. Several of his comments on the scriptures, and tracts of piety, have been sometimes printed among the works of the great St. Bruno. [back]
Note 19. The Order of Carthusians contains one hundred and seventy-two convents, which are divided into sixteen provinces, of which each has two visitors. There are said to be only five nunneries of this Order, all situated in the Catholic Netherlands. The nuns of this Order have longer vocal prayers and church offices than the monks, and less silence, the rules of extreme retirement not agreeing generally to that sex. See Arn. Raissii Origines Carthusiarum Belgii, Duaci, 1632. The Carthusians had in England nine monasteries; the most remarkable were that called of Jesus of Bethlehem at Shene upon the Thames in Surrey, founded by Henry V. in 1414, (see Dugdale’s Monasticon, t. 1, p. 973,) and that in London, near West-Smithfield, founded by Sir Walter Manny, created knight of the garter by Edward III. It was dissolved in the twenty-ninth of Henry VIII. John Houghton, prior, was hanged and quartered at Tyburn, the 27th of April, 1535, the twenty-seventh of Henry VIII. one of his quarters being set up at his own gate, for denying the king’s supremacy. Humphry Middlemore, William Exmewe, and Sebastian Newdegate suffered in the same manner on the 18th of June, 1535, and William Horn, on the 4th of August, all monks of this house; eight others died in Newgate. William Trafford, who succeeded Houghton as prior, surrendered the house, which Henry VIII. bestowed on Sir Thomas Audley, speaker of that parliament which dissolved religious houses. By his sole daughter and heiress it passed to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk. It was bought, in 1611, for thirteen thousand pounds, of Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, by Thomas Sutton, Esq.; who founded there a rich hospital for eighty decayed gentlemen, a head master, and a second master for a free-school, and forty-four boys to be maintained at school for eight years, with forty pounds then to bind them apprentices; and twenty pounds a-year for eight years, for twenty-nine scholars sent to the universities. The governors are sixteen; the present revenues five thousand three hundred and ninety-one pounds per annum. See Samuel Hearne’s Domus Carthusiana, or history of this house; Stowe’s Survey, Maitland’s London, and Steven’s Monast. Dr. Bearcroft’s Historical Account of Thomas Sutton, and his Foundation in the Charter-house, 1737. Augustin Webster, prior of the Chartreuse of Beauval in Nottinghamshire, was hanged for opposing Henry VIII’s supremacy, May 4, 1535, and others of this Order suffered on that account. F. Maurice Chauncey, a monk of the Chartreuse in London, was imprisoned with them, but released after their execution. He lived abroad in Flanders some time; but Queen Mary ascending the throne June 6, 1553, F. Chauncey with several others of the Order leaving Bruges arrived at London, June 29, 1555; and on the 17th of November, 1556, were put in possession of their ancient house at Shene, and confirmed in it by the letters of Cardinal Pole, dated the 31st of December, 1556.—F. Chauncey was prior. Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole, dying the 17th of November, 1558, the English Carthusians, being fifteen monks and three lay-brothers, by a particular favour, through the mediation of Don Gomez de Figueroa, duke of Feria, the Spanish ambassador in England, were permitted to depart the kingdom unmolested. They arrived in Flanders the 1st of July, 1559, and were entertained in the Flemish Chartreuse at Bruges till they got a house in that town in St. Clare’s-street, in 1569; were driven out of Bruges by the Calvinist faction the 19th of April, 1578, and travelling through Lille, Douay, and Cambray, stopped at St. Quintin’s till the 1st of July, and in the Chartreuse at Noyon till the 5th of July. By Namur they came to Louvain on the 17th of July, and remained in the Chartreuse there from the 17th of July, 1578, till the end of 1590. F. Walter Pytts, then prior, went with his community to Antwerp, and thence to Mechlin where they took a large house in Bleeke-street, 1591. This convent removed to Nieuport in September, 1626, the charter for their settlement there being granted by King Philip IV. at Brussels the 20th of June, 1626. By the interest of the same Spanish ambassador the Brigittin nuns of Sion also had leave to retire abroad. They landed in Zealand; went to Antwerp, into Normandy, and to Lisbon, where they remain. This nunnery of Sion, and the Carthusians of Shene, are the only two English Orders which were never dispersed. In Scotland King James I. in 1430, founded the Chartreuse in the suburb of Perth, called Vallis or Domus Virtutum. Speed calls it the fairest abbey of that realm, and says, that at the preaching of John Knox and his fellows, the mob demolished it; and soon after, the monasteries of St. Andrew’s Scone, Striveling, and Linlithgow.—Speed, Hist. of England, 1137. F. Maurice Chauncey died in the Chartreuse at Paris on the 12th of July, 1581, in his return from Spain, whither he had made a journey about the settlement of his community. His history of the martyrdom of eighteen Carthusians in England, was printed at Mentz, in 1550. [back]
Note 25. St. Bruno’s works, with his life by Puteanus, were beautifully printed at Paris in folio, in 1524, by the accurate and elegant printer, Jodoc Badius, surnamed from his country, Ascensius. And more completely at Cologn, in three tomes, usually bound in one volume, in 1611 and 1640. The greater part of the sermons belong to St. Bruno of Segni, in whose works they also appear; but others seem the genuine work of this holy patriarch. [back]
Butler (1711–73). Volume X: October. The Lives of the
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/10/061.html
Sebastiano Ricci (1659–1734), The Apparition of Mary before Saints Bruno and Hugo, 218 x 114,4, Certosa di Vedana
San Bruno (Brunone) Sacerdote e monaco
- Memoria Facoltativa
Colonia (Germania), intorno al 1030 - Serra San Bruno (Vibo Valentia), 6 ottobre 1101
Nato in Germania nel 1030 e vissuto poi tra il suo Paese, la Francia e l'Italia, dove morì nel 1101, Bruno o Brunone, professore di teologia e filosofia, sceglie ben presto la strada della vita eremitica. Trova così sei compagni che la pensano come lui e il vescovo Ugo di Grenoble li aiuta a stabilirsi in una località selvaggia detta «chartusia» (chartreuse in francese). Lì si costruiscono un ambiente per la preghiera comune, e sette baracche dove ciascuno vive pregando e lavorando: una vita da eremiti, con momenti comunitari. Quando Bruno insegnava a Reims, uno dei suoi allievi era il benedettino Oddone di Châtillon. Nel 1090 se lo ritrova papa col nome di Urbano II, che lo sceglie come consigliere. Ottiene da lui riconoscimento e autonomia per il monastero fondato presso Grenoble, poi noto come Grande Chartreuse. In Calabria nella Foresta della Torre (ora in provincia di Vibo Valentia) fonda una nuova comunità. Più tardi, a poca distanza, costruirà un altro monastero per la vita comunitaria. È il luogo accanto al quale sorgeranno poi le prime case dell'attuale Serra San Bruno. (Avvenire)
Etimologia: Bruno = allude al colore della carnagione
Martirologio Romano: San Bruno, sacerdote, che, originario di Colonia in Lotaringia, nel territorio dell’odierna Germania, dopo avere insegnato la teologia in Francia, desideroso di condurre vita solitaria, fondò con pochi discepoli nella deserta valle di Chartroux un Ordine, in cui la solitudine eremitica si combinasse con una minima forma di vita comunitaria. Chiamato a Roma dal papa beato Urbano II, perché lo aiutasse nelle necessità della Chiesa, riuscì tuttavia a trascorrere gli ultimi anni della sua vita in un eremo vicino al monastero di La Torre in Calabria.
Bruno è un bambino tedesco e nasce in una famiglia di nobili, a Colonia, nel 1030. È molto bravo a scuola. Va in Francia, a Reims, per studiare e qui si laurea in teologia. È talmente intelligente che, dopo essere stato ordinato sacerdote, viene subito nominato, dal vescovo di Reims, professore di filosofia della prestigiosa Scuola di Teologia in cui lo stesso Bruno ha studiato. Bruno per vent’anni ricopre con successo questo ruolo, ma quando un nuovo vescovo arriva a Reims, Bruno si allontana dalla città perché non approva pubblicamente il suo comportamento avido e disonesto.
Intanto il sacerdote si sente attratto dalla vita monastica, modesta, fatta di preghiera, solitudine, lettura e studio dei Libri Sacri. Infatti Bruno potrebbe diventare arcivescovo, ma rifiuta l’incarico. Assieme ad altri sei suoi amici monaci si reca a Grenoble (Rodano-Alpi) a trovare il vescovo Ugo, suo ex allievo. Il vescovo, prima dell’arrivo di Bruno, fa un sogno: vede sette stelle che guidano sette uomini verso un luogo di montagna vicino a Grenoble, chiamato Chartreuse (Certosa). Il vescovo capisce che i desideri di Bruno e dei suoi sei compagni sono ispirati da Dio e così li conduce verso il luogo che ha sognato: una valle immersa nella natura, dove poter pregare e stare in contatto con Dio.
La Chartreuse si trova nelle Alpi della Francia meridionale (Midi) dove Bruno costruisce un monastero, “Grande Chartreuse”, con la chiesa e le celle per i monaci. Qui egli crea l’Ordine dei Certosini che si diffondono ben presto in tutta Europa: essi indossano un saio bianco, vivono in povertà e dedicano il loro tempo a pregare e a lavorare la terra, in completa solitudine, parlando tra di loro il meno possibile. Nel 1088 il suo ex allievo papa Urbano II lo chiama a Roma per nominarlo consigliere della Santa Sede. Bruno accontenta il papa, ma dopo un po’ di tempo chiede il permesso di ritirarsi di nuovo in un monastero. Per volere del pontefice deve restare in Italia, e perciò si trasferisce in Calabria nella Foresta della Torre (Vibo Valentia) dove fonda due nuovi monasteri. In questo luogo sorge un paese che si chiama Serra San Bruno, in onore del monaco. Qui Bruno (chiamato anche Brunone), trascorre gli ultimi anni seguendo la Regola dei certosini, in contatto con Dio e in solitudine. Muore il 6 ottobre 1101.
Autore: Mariella Lentini
Houdon, Saint Bruno, Église Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome.
Marble statue of Bruno of Cologne by Jean-Antoine Houdon (between 1766 and 1768). Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Rome).
Houdon, Saint Bruno, Église Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome.
Marble statue of Bruno of Cologne by Jean-Antoine Houdon (between 1766 and 1768). Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Rome).
Nato in Germania, e vissuto poi tra il suo Paese, la Francia e l’Italia, il nobile renano Bruno o Brunone è vero figlio dell’Europa dell’XI secolo, divisa e confusa, ma pure a suo modo aperta e propizia alla mobilità. Studente e poi insegnante a Reims, si trova presto faccia a faccia con la simonia, cioè col mercato delle cariche ecclesiastiche che infetta la Chiesa.
Professore di teologia e filosofia, esperto di cose curiali, potrebbe diventare vescovo per la via onesta dei meriti, ora che papa Gregorio VII lotta per ripulire gli episcopi. Ma lo disgusta l’ambiente. La fede che pratica e che insegna è tutt’altra cosa, come nel 1083 gli conferma Roberto di Molesme, il severo monaco che darà vita ai Cistercensi.
Bruno trova sei compagni che la pensano come lui, e il vescovo Ugo di Grenoble li aiuta a stabilirsi in una località selvaggia detta “chartusia” (chartreuse in francese). Lì si costruiscono un ambiente per la preghiera comune, e sette baracche dove ciascuno vive pregando e lavorando: una vita da eremiti, con momenti comunitari. Ma non pensano minimamente a fondare qualcosa: vogliono soltanto vivere radicalmente il Vangelo e stare lontani dai mercanti del sacro.
Quando Bruno insegnava a Reims, uno dei suoi allievi era il benedettino Oddone di Châtillon. Nel 1090 se lo ritrova papa col nome di Urbano II e deve raggiungerlo a Roma come suo consigliere. Ottiene da lui riconoscimento e autonomia per il monastero fondato presso Grenoble, poi noto come Grande Chartreuse. Però a Roma non resiste: pochi mesi, ed eccolo in Calabria nella Foresta della Torre (ora in provincia di Vibo Valentia); e riecco l’oratorio, le celle come alla Chartreuse, una nuova comunità guidata col solito rigore. Più tardi, a poca distanza, costruirà un altro monastero per chi, inadatto alle asprezze eremitiche, preferisce vivere in comunità. E’ il luogo accanto al quale sorgeranno poi le prime case dell’attuale Serra San Bruno. I suoi pochi confratelli (non ama avere intorno gente numerosa e qualunque) devono essere pronti alla durezza di una vita che egli insegna col consiglio e con istruzioni scritte, che dopo la sua morte troveranno codificazione nella Regola, approvata nel 1176 dalla Santa Sede.
E’ una guida all’autenticità, col modello della Chiesa primitiva nella povertà e nella gioia, quando si cantano le lodi a Dio e quando lo si serve col lavoro, cercando anche qui la perfezione, e facendo da maestri ai fratelli, alle famiglie, anche con i mestieri splendidamente insegnati. Sempre pochi e sempre vivi i certosini: a Serra, vicino a Bruno, e altrove, passando attraverso guerre, terremoti, rivoluzioni. Sempre fedeli allo spirito primitivo. Una comunità "mai riformata, perché mai deformata". Come la voleva Bruno, il cui culto è stato approvato da Leone X (1513-1521) e confermato da Gregorio XV (1621-1623).
Autore: Domenico Agasso
BRUNO o Brunone, san
di Mario Jona - Enciclopedia Italiana (1930)
Fondatore dell'ordine dei certosini o cartusiani. Nato verso il 1030 a Colonia, dall'antica famiglia patrizia degli Hartenfaust, venne inviato nella celebre scuola vescovile di Reims. Tornato in patria per ricevere gli ordini sacri col titolo di canonico di S. Cuniberto, ben tosto Gervasio, arcivescovo di Reims, lo richiese per affidargli la direzione della scuola suddetta, a scopo di restituirle quello splendore che godeva al tempo del famoso Gerberto, poi papa Silvestro II. Bruno infatti vide ben presto accorrere alle sue lezioni i giovani meglio promettenti, molti dei quali illustrarono poi la chiesa nelle cariche più eminenti. Con questo suo apostolato, durato 20 anni, istillò nella gioventù ecclesiastica quell'amore delle scienze sacre e delle virtù ecclesiastiche, di cui grande era il bisogno in quei tempi; a questa pacifica lotta seguì poi una guerra aperta e senza quartiere contro vizî detestabili, quali erano la simonia, l'ambizione delle cariche, la mondanità dei costumi.
Il famigerato Manasse, successo (1069) all'arcivescovo Gervasio durante otto anni, seppe nascondere il vero suo animo, e sperando di guadagnare la connivenza di Bruno, lo nominò cancelliere della diocesi (1075). Tuttavia quando si riseppe il patto simoniaco avvenuto tra Manasse e il re Filippo di Francia, la compera, cioè, della dignità metropolitana a prezzo d'oro; quando l'indegno prelato, togliendosi la maschera, inaugurò la lunga serie dei suoi inauditi scandali, sfidando ostinatamente le ammonizioni e censure del papa e del suo legato, l'incorruttibile maestro insorse, con soli due amici, intrepido difensore dei sacri canoni e dell'onore sacerdotale. In questo conflitto Bruno perdette tutto il suo avere, i suoi titoli e prebende; corse inoltre pericolo, oltreché nella sua illibata fama, anche nella sua vita. Infatti quando, in un convegno solenne con Gregorio VII a Roma, l'astuto prelato riuscì con successo momentaneo a convincere il pontefice rigettando ogni colpa sull'"ingrato canonico straniero", allora gli stessi amici piegarono, e B., rimasto solo, non ebbe più tregua in quella diocesi cui aveva dedicato il meglio dei suoi anni (1080). Tornato dunque a Colonia, lasciò di nuovo ben presto questa città, perché richiamato a Reims dopo la deposizione definitiva e l'espulsione del prevaricatore, e quivi per ordine del papa fu reintegrato nelle sue dignità (1081). Con l'appoggio del legato, i canonici di Reims, unanimi, lo vollero loro vescovo. Lo cercarono però invano. B. era scomparso dalla scena del mondo.
Consigliato da S. Roberto di Molesme, futuro patriarca dell'ordine cisterciense, fondava il monastero di Sèche-Fontaine, la cui chiesa venne consacrata l'anno appresso (1082) dal vescovo Ugone di Langres. Trovando però questo luogo troppo vicino alla strada pubblica, l'abbandonò con 6 compagni per inoltrarsi nella solitudine perfetta, e guidato dal suo antico scolaro, il vescovo Ugone di Grenoble, penetrò nel luogo deserto di Certosa (Chartreuse, Alpi del Delfinato) dove il 24 giugno 1084 diede principio a quell'austera vita di solitudine, silenzio, preghiera e lavoro, che doveva esser seguita in appresso da tante anime elette.
Quando Urbano II, anch'esso già alunno di B. nella scuola di Reims, lo chiamò a Roma per valersi dei suoi consigli (1090) la nuova istituzione monastica fu in pericolo. Il santo si recò bensì a Roma; ma invano il papa gli fece dono della chiesa di S. Ciriaco delle Terme, come pure inutilmente gli offriva l'arcivescovado di Reggio in Calabria; Urbano dovette cedere davanti al persistente rifiuto del suo "figlio prediletto", a condizione però che egli rimanesse in Italia. Nel 1091 B. fondava presso l'odierna Serra S. Bruno (Catanzaro) una seconda certosa su terre del conte Ruggero di Calabria; a costui battezzò egli nel 1095 il figlio omonimo, futuro primo re delle Sicilie, e gli salvò cinque anni dopo la vita denunziandogli la congiura di Sergio e di 200 complici, ai quali faceva commutare la pena capitale in servitù perpetua al nuovo monastero. Nel 1100 conferì con Landuino, suo successore nella casa madre, il quale nel viaggio di ritorno cadeva nelle mani dei servi dell'antipapa Guiberto e moriva protomartire del suo ordine. Di lì a poco, il 6 ottobre dell'anno 1101, morì anche Bruno.
Degli scritti di S. Bruno poca cosa ci è pervenuta. Dei suoi studî giovanili, un'elegia latina; del suo insegnamento, il concetto del suo commento ai Salmi e alle lettere di S. Paolo; degli altri anni di vita, una lettera a un amico di Reims (poi arcivescovo di quella diocesi) e ai suoi religiosi della Grande Certosa.
Bibl.: Zanotti, Storia di S. Brunone, Bologna 1741; Tromby, Storia del patriarca S. Brunone e del suo ordine cartusiano, Napoli 1773; Le Couteulx, Annales Ordinis Cartusiensis, Montreuil-sur-Mer 1887; Bohic, hronica Ordinis Cartusiensis, Tornaci 1912; Vie de Saint Bruno, par un religieux de la Grande Chartreuse, Montreuil-sur-Mer 1898; H. Löbbel, Der Stifter des Carthäuser-Ordens, der Heilige Bruno aus Köln, Münster 1869.
Voir aussi : http://saint.bruno.free.fr/