« Carthage, Synods of Carthusians Cartwright, Peter »



The Life of St. Bruno (§ 1).

Foundation of Chartreuse (§ 2).

Carthusians in Italy (§ 3).

Growth of the Order (§ 4).

Organization (§ 5).

Scholarship (§ 6).

The Carthusians are a Roman Catholic order founded by St. Bruno of Cologne at Grande Chartreuse (14 m. n. of Grenoble) in Dauphiné in the latter part of the eleventh century. The period was particularly favorable to the formation of new monastic orders. The monastery of Cluny inspired a tendency to the religious life throughout the surrounding regions, but this cloister, which had adopted the cenobitic monasticism of St. Benedict, gave no impetus to eremitic life. In the course of time, however, the longing for meditation in solitude peopled the wastes of Burgundy and Lorraine, apparently gaining inspiration from Italy by way of Dauphiné. To this period belonged Hugo, bishop of Grenoble (1080–1132), who had barely ascended the episcopal chair when he renounced it to bury himself in the monastery of Chaise-Dieu, whence he was recalled to his high office by the mandate of Gregory VII. In a like spirit two canons of St. Rufus in Dauphiné retired to the north of France, returning after some years with Bruno.

1. The Life of St. Bruno.

He was born of noble parentage at Cologne before the middle of the eleventh century, and educated at the cathedral school of Reims. Successively canon of St. Cunibert at Cologne and scholastic of the cathedral of Reims, Bruno had held this latter office with distinction for some twenty years and had diligently inculcated the stern principles of Hildebrand and the monks of Cluny. Appointed chancellor of the archbishopric of Reims in 1075, Bruno relaxed his energies as a 429teacher to assail the simony of his own archbishop, Manasseh of Gourney (1067–80). After a long struggle, in which Bruno was seconded by the best element in his chapter, as well as by the neighboring clergy, Manasseh was deposed. His antagonist, however, had become disheartened with the condition of the Church. In equal despair regarding the theology to which he devoted himself, he resolved to abandon the world and live the life of a hermit. Where he met the two canons who were later to take him to the Chartreuse is uncertain, but at all events he retired with a few friends of like sympathies to Molesme in the diocese of Langres to live the life of an anchorite in the center of French asceticism. He there joined the adherents of Robert, then abbot of Molesme and later founder of the Cistercians, and with his permission established a small community of hermits in the neighboring Sêche-Fontaine. Feeling that this refuge was insufficiently sundered from the world, Bruno left all his followers but six in Sêche-Fontaine, pushed southward, and in 1084 reached Grenoble, where the little company was welcomed by Hugo, who had but recently resumed his episcopal office.

2. Foundation of Chartreuse.

Partly through the influence of the abbot of Chaise-Dieu, Bruno and his companions received from Hugo the lofty and almost inaccessible valley of Cartusia as their place of refuge, and on June 24, 1084, they began the construction of the hermitage, originally consisting of three wretched huts, each to be occupied by two anchorites, and a chapel. At first the new community had no special rule, although they seem to have been influenced by the Italian Camaldolites in many respects. They were clad in white, and were bound to perpetual silence, to the observance of the monastic hours, to the most rigorous renunciation and mortification, and to the copying of books of devotion. After directing his little colony of hermits for six years, Bruno was summoned to Rome by Urban II., who had once been his pupil at Reims. Bruno obeyed with reluctance, but went accompanied by some of his monks, while others remained in their hermitage, although for some time they proved restive under the administration of Landuin, whom Bruno had placed at their head. In Rome the hermits found themselves longing for their mountain valley, and Bruno obtained permission for them to return, bearing letters of commendation from the pope to Hugo of Grenoble and Hugo, archbishop of Lyons. Bruno, however, remained in Rome, although he was neither energetic enough nor polemical enough to exercise an influence on Urban's rule of the Church.

3. Carthusians in Italy.

He declined the proffered archbishopric of Reggio in Calabria, and shortly before the first crusade, apparently in 1091, he retired to the wild region of La Torre near Squillace in Calabria, where he gathered about him a number of hermits and formed a community like that at the Chartreuse. In 1097 Count Roger of Calabria gave him La Torre and Santo Stefano in Bosco, and two years later presented him with San Jacobo de Mentauro, so that he was able to establish two large cloisters for his order. He was buried in Santo Stefano in 1101, but the monastery, which then contained thirty monks, soon passed into the hands of the Cistercians, nor was it until 1137 that the Carthusian cloisters even reached the number of four, all situated in France.

4. Growth of the Order.

After the middle of the twelfth century the order steadily increased, and in 1170 the Carthusians were deemed worthy of the special protection of the pope and were officially recognized by Alexander III. In 1258 the monasteries of the order numbered fifty-six, but in 1378 the Carthuaians were obliged to contend with a division corresponding to the papal schism and lasting until the Council of Pisa. The entire body of Carthusians recognized Martin V. as pope, and the two generals of the order resigned in favor of John of Greiffenberg, the prior of the Carthusian monastery of Paris, who thus became sole general. In 1420 Martin V, granted the order exemption from tithes for all its estates, and in 1508 Julius II. issued a bull enacting that the prior of the mother house should always be the general of the order, and that the annual chapters should be held there. Five years later the Calabrian monastery of Santo Stefano, where the founder of the order was buried, was restored to the Carthusians, and in 1514 Bruno was canonized. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Carthusian monasteries numbered 170, of which seventy-five were in France. The Revolution struck the order a heavy blow, but it survived and in 1819 the mother house near Grenoble was again occupied. In 1905, in consequence of the legislation enacted in France concerning religious orders, the Grande Chartreuse of Grenoble as well as the other Carthusian monasteries was again vacated, and most of the monks retired to Spain.

5. Organization.

The Carthusian spirit may be learned from its rule. Until 1130 the order had no special regulations, but in that year Guigo de Castro, the fifth prior of Chartreuse, prepared the Consuetudines Cartusiæ. In 1258 the resolutions of the chapters from 1141 were collected by Bernard de la Tour and designated Statuta antiqua, while additional collections were made in 1367, 1509, and 1581. The chief aim of them all was the most absolute detachment, not only from the world and all its attractions and interests, but even from the brother monks of the order and the monastery. The lay brothers, who are divided into the three classes of conversi, donati, and redditi, are sharply distinguished from the professed. Each monastery is strictly separated from the surrounding population and from all other orders, while every form of ecclesiastical and secular influence, whether active or passive, is carefully avoided. The faithful adherence of the Carthusians to their rule spared them the necessity of reform felt by many orders in the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times.

The Carthusians now control twenty-six monasteries, and still retain their absolute retirement 430from the world. The order likewise includes Carthusian nuns, who are said to have existed as early as the twelfth century, although in the eighteenth only five nunneries were known, all dating from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Over these convents Carthusian monks presided, who as vicars ranked above the prioresses and lived in separate houses with other professed and lay brothers. The nuns, who were first permitted to become professed by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, may eat together and converse more frequently than is allowed to the monks.

6. Scholarship.

Although in scholarship the Carthusians can not rival the Benedictines, Dominicans, or Jesuits, they are not without their men of fame. From the pre-Reformation period mention may be made, in addition to the Guigo already noted, of such authors of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as Ludolf of Saxony, Hendrik of Coesfeld, Gerhard of Schiedam, and Henry of Kalkar, as well as of Jacob of Jülterbogk and Dionysius of Rickel. Noteworthy names of later date are the hagiographers Lorenz Surius and H. Murer, and such historians of the order as Petræus, Le Vasseur, and Le Couteulx. In recent times, moreover, the order entered upon a revival of literary activity.

(O. Zöckler†.)

Bibliography: Heimbucher, Orden and Kongregationen, i. 251–263; Le Vasseur, Ephemerides ordinis Carthusiensis, 2 vols., Montreuil, 1892 (a biography arranged by the calendar, goes only to July 31; the author died 1693); Helyot, Ordres monastiques, vii 366–405; Magna Vita S. Hugonis, ed. J. F. Dimock for Rolls Series, no. 37, London, 1864; F. A. Lefebure, S. Bruno et l’ordre des Chartreux. 2 vols., Paris, 1883; idem, La Chartreuse de Nôtre-Dame-des-Pres à Neuville, Neuville. 1890; C. Reichenlechner, Der Karthauserorden in Deutschland, Würzburg, 1885; C. Ie Couteulx, Annales ordinis Cartusiensis, 1084–1429, 2 vols., Montreuil, 1887–88; C. Boutrais, The Monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, London, 1893; Vie de S. Bruno, Montreuil, 1898; H. Löbbel, Der Stifter des Karthäuserordens, . . . Bruno aus Köln, Münster, 1899; Currier, Religious Orders, pp. 153–161. On the Eng. Carthusians consult: W. H. Brown, Charterhouse, Past and Present; a Brief History, London, 1876; W. D. Parish, List of Carthusians, 1800–1879, ib. 1880; T. Mozley, Reminiscences of Towns, Villages, arid Schools, i. 376–436, ib. 1885; D. L. Hendriks, London Charterhouse, Its Monks and Martyrs, ib. 1889.

« Carthage, Synods of Carthusians Cartwright, Peter »
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