Bruno the Carthusian, St.
BRUNO THE CARTHUSIAN, ST.
Founder of the carthusians; b. Cologne, Germany, before 1030; d. Santa Maria, La Torre, near Catanzaro, Italy, Oct. 6, 1101. He was of an unknown noble family; the Hartenfausts are cited, but without foundation. The 12th-century chronicle Magister calls him Master Bruno. Nothing of his childhood is known except that his education was carefully supervised. The chronicle says he was well-versed in letters, both profane and divine. He began his studies at St. Cunibert in Cologne and completed them at the famous schools of Reims. There is nothing to prove that he went to Paris or was ever a disciple of berengarius of tours. He became a canon of Reims, where he taught the arts and theology, becoming master of the schools, and finally chancellor of the archdiocese. His students, notably the future urban ii, praised him as an incomparable teacher.
Bruno was not content to bask in his comfortable social position and intellectual achievements. At the height of his career he chose to side with gregory vii in his fight against the decadence of the clergy. At Reims itself the simoniacal Archbishop manasses i had reached the point of openly courting scandal. It was as much through Bruno's efforts as through the zeal of the legate, hugh of die, that Manasses was finally removed. Bruno had no secular ambitions, and when the cathedral see was offered him, he refused it.
Before the end of this conflict, he had vowed to leave the world and live the life of the pauperes Christi or Christ's poor, the name given to groups of hermits who withdrew into the solitude of the forests to live a contemplative life of poverty and penance. Drawn to the desert, Bruno left Reims c. 1082 with two companions, although his friend Ralph refused to go. At first, with the advice of robert of molesme, he established himself at Sche-Fontaine, not far from molesme. But Bruno was not drawn to a cenobitic vocation; he set out once more in the spring of 1084 to find greater solitude. His journey brought him into the Alps, to the heart of the Chartreuse, where Bishop hugh of grenoble helped him to establish himself. With a few clerics and laymen, he lived an eremetic life for six years in this small valley 3,500 feet above sea level, surrounded by rugged mountains and
possessed of a severe climate—a site well suited to guarantee silence, poverty, and small numbers. He wrote no rule for the Carthusians and did not intend to found an order. The observance of the first Carthusians harmonized the cenobitic framework with the solitary life, without reference either to the Benedictine or to the Camaldolese practice.
In 1090 Urban II unexpectedly called his former teacher to his side. Bruno obeyed, leaving Landuin in charge at La Grande Chartreuse. Urban II and Bruno were obliged to flee Rome that summer and went to southern Italy, then under Norman rule. While there, Bruno again refused the miter (he had been elected to the See of Reggio). But with the material assistance of roger of sicily he founded the hermitage of Santa Maria of La Torre. The eulogies of Bruno's mortuary rolls described him as an extraordinary soul as well as a revered teacher, a man with a profound heart. His extant works include two letters, which are veritable ascetical treatises; an authentic commentary on the Psalter; and a less certain commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, as well as the profession of faith he dictated just before he died.
Bruno's body, buried in the hermitage cemetery of Santa Maria of La Torre, was later transferred to the church there, and still later to the church of S. Stefano. In 1514, Leo X canonized Bruno viva voce. His feast was introduced into the Roman liturgy in 1623.
Feast: Oct. 6.
Bibliography: Sources. Lettres des premiers chartreux, with the profession of faith [Sources Chrétiennes 88; Paris 1962] 2893. Expositiones (Psalter, etc.) in Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v. (Paris 1878–90), 152:633–1420; 153:11–568. a. wilmart, La Chronique des premiers chartreux, Revue Mabillon 16: 77–142. Funeral eulogies in Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 1878–90), 152:555–606. Literature. b. bligny, Saint Bruno, le premier chartreux (Rennes 1984). A Carthusian, Maestro Bruno, padre de monjes (Madrid 1980). c. le couteulx, Annales ordinis cartusiensis, 8 v. (Montreuil 1887–91) 1:iiicxviii. h. lÖbbel, Der Stifter des Carthäuser-Ordens (Müster 1899). g. mursell, The Theology of the Carthusian Life in the Writings of St. Bruno and Guigo I (Salzburg, Austria 1988). u. otto, Die Münsteraner Handschrift 894: Leben der hl. Hugo und Bruno (Salzburg, Austria 1997). a. ravier, Saint Bruno, the Carthusian, tr. b. becker (San Francisco 1995). b. smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (2d ed. New York 1952). b. bligny, L'Église et les ordres religieux dans le royaume de Bourgogne aux XI e XII e siècles (Grenoble 1960). g. gioia, L'esperienza contemplativa: Bruno il certosino (Turin 1989). Aux sources de la vie cartusienne (Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, France 1960). j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienhereux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes (Paris 1935–56) 10:164175. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:4045. s. autore, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–), 2.2:227482. y. gourdel, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. miller et al. (Paris 1932–), 2.1:705776. r. aigrain, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet, (Paris 1947–), 2:291293. h. wolter, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Frieburg 1957–65).