St Bruno

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Priest. Founder of the Carthusians. Born in Cologne in 1033 to a noble family, he studied at the cathedral school in Rheims where he was ordained priest and later taught theology for 18 years. When he criticised his archbishop, who obtained his see through simony, he was discharged from his office at the school.

In 1084 with six companions, he withdrew to the Grande Chartreuse, a wild and lonely place in the mountains near Grenoble. They built a small church and little huts to live in, entering into that combination of solitary and communal living that characterises Carthusian life to this day.

After six years, however, Pope Urban II, one of Bruno's former students, asked him to go to Rome to be his advisor. Bruno found it very difficult to leave his community but served the Pope well. He was later allowed to establish another foundation in Calabria.

He never saw his brethren in France again but kept in touch with them by letter - one of which survives. There is also a long letter to an old friend in which he speaks of the rest and refreshment brought to the spirit through natural beauty, He wrote: "Only those who have experienced it can know the benefit and delight to be had from the quietness and solitude of a hermitage."

St Bruno died in 1101. The Carthusians came to England in 1173. By the late Middle Ages there were nine houses here. Several Carthusian monks were executed for their faith during the Reformation. Three are among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. There is a Charterhouse, founded in the 19th century in Sussex.

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