Discover the history of the Chartreux, a religious order founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno. A community of Carthusian monks isolated from the world whose life is dedicated to God.

Birth of the Carthusian order

The Carthusian order was founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno, during the creation of the initial monastery in the mountainous massif of Chartreuse, northeast of Grenoble, in Dauphiné. A schoolteacher from Reims, he retired with six companions, four clerics and two lay people, in order to set up the first community of hermit monks : the Grande Chartreuse. Establishing the matrix foundations of the Carthusian order, Saint Bruno was called by Pope Urban to Rome in 1090. Wishing to rediscover his life of solitude and asceticism, he left for Calabria to found a second hermitage, with no institutional link with the construction iséroise, where he died on October 6, 1101.

Carthusian history

Development and apogee of order

It was not until 1127, under the priorate of Guigues I, that the Customs practiced by the monks of the Grande-Chartreuse were written down, at the request of neighboring communities wishing to live on the same model. In 1140, the order truly placed itself alongside the great monastic institutions of the Middle Ages such as the Benedictines and the Cistercians. At the same time, some nuns wanted to embrace the Carthusian rule and the female branch grew quite quickly. Taking place every two years, the general chapters ensured that the statutes were slightly modified over the centuries. They were renovated for the last time in the 1970s and 1980s, following the Second Vatican Council.

At its height, during the XNUMXth century, the order counted more than 150 houses around the world. However, the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution weakened the order which was forced to close more than half of its buildings. The reason is that it was perceived as a wealthy order, deriving its considerable resources from the income of agricultural estates, metallurgy and forestry. Since the end of the XNUMXth century, the order has suffered the brunt of the violent socio-cultural shocks of the modern world. Indeed, after the battering of anticlericalism and the First World War, many communities never recovered.

The Carthusian order today

Since 2000, two Charterhouses have closed but two new ones have opened in South Korea, where demand is extremely strong. Today, 23 houses are still operating on 3 continents, Europe, Asia and America, 6 of which are located in France, Isère, Ain, Var, Alpes-de-Haute -Provence and Aveyron. Although it is difficult to say with certainty, this corresponds to just over 300 people worldwide. Even today, it remains difficult to have an objective look at this form of monastic life which is one of the most foreign to current customs and mentalities, including within Catholicism itself.

Was this content useful to you?


Share this content