St Hugh of Grenoble

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Bishop and monk. St Hugh was born in 1052, at Chateauneuf in France. He was the son of a knight called Odilo and educated at the cathedral school at Valence, where he became a canon. Hugh is said to have been very gifted, and good looking. He was also very shy. The bishop of Die, who was a papal legate made him his secretary.

In 1080 he attended the Synod of Avignon which reviewed the deplorable state of the diocese of Grenoble. The clergy there had earned a terrible reputation for their loose morals and abuse of church funds. When Hugh was made bishop of Grenoble he set about reforming the diocese.

He was loved by the poor, but disliked by the nobility who were trying to acquire church lands. St Hugh built a bridge, a marketplace and three hospitals for the people in his care. He also restored the church of St Laurence and the cathedral.

But he is especially remembered as the virtual co-founder of the Carthusian order. His own father became a Carthusian monk before he died at the age of a hundred.

Hugh spent many retreats at the monastery and asked the Pope for permission to resign from his bishopric many times, so that he could live as a monk. His request was always refused.

St Hugh defended Pope Innocent II against the anti-pope Anaceltus.

During the final weeks of his life, he seemed to forget everything, except the Our Father and the Psalms. He died in 1132 surrounded by Carthusian monks. His Life written by the Carthusian Gigues describes him as a very attractive character.

Pope Innocent II canonised him just two years after his death.

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