On October 6, we celebrate the feast of St. St. Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian order. He was born at Cologne, Germany around 1030. He studied at the school of the Cathedral of Rheims (France) at an early age. He became Canon of the Cathedral and was made the Rector of the University in 1056. Bruno was one of the most remarkable scholars and teacher of his time: “…a prudent man whose word was rich in meaning.”
Following an attempt at a solitary life of short duration, he entered the region of Grenoble, where the Bishop, the future Saint Hugues, offered him a solitary site in the mountains of his diocese. In June 1084, the Bishop himself led Bruno and six of his companions to the primitive valley of Chartreuse on a wild mountain range on the edge of the French Alps. There they built a hermitage, consisting of a few log cabins opening towards a gallery which allowed them access to the communal areas of the community — church, refectory, and chapter room — without having to suffer too much from intemperate conditions.
After six years of a pleasant solitary life, Bruno was called by Pope Urban II to the service of the Holy See. As a personal adviser to the Pope (a former student), Bruno felt uncomfortable in the Pontifical Court. He lived in Rome for only a short time. With the Pope’s blessing, he founded a new hermitage in the forests of Calabria, in the south of Italy. There he died on October 6, 1101. Commentaries on the Psalms and the Epistles of Paul are attributed to him.
St. Bruno was never formally beatified or canonized. However, he became both when Pope Clement X extended his feast to the universal Church in 1674.
The Order founded by Bruno — the Carthusians — is one of the strictest in the Church. Carthusians follow the Rule of St. Benedict, but accord it a most austere interpretation; there is perpetual silence and complete abstinence from flesh meat (only bread, legumes, and water are taken for nourishment). Bruno sought to revive the ancient eremitical way of life. His Order enjoys the distinction of never becoming unfaithful to the spirit of its founder, never needing a reform.
He had a great reputation as a protector against diabolic possession and is the patron against possession. He was known for his great devotion to prayer, mortification, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“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
Prayer (Taken from the 1962 Missal and the 1974 Breviary)
May we be helped by the intercession of St. Bruno, Thy Confessor, O Lord, we beseech Thee, so that we who by our evil deeds have grievously offended Thy Majesty, may by his merits and prayers obtain forgiveness of our sins. Through our Lord….
Lord God, you called Saint Bruno to serve you in a life of solitude. Amidst this world’s changes help us, by his prayers, to set our hearts always on you. Through our Lord…