The Carthusian Order

“To the praise of God’s glory, Christ, the Father’s Word, has from the beginning chosen certain men through the Holy Spirit, in order to lead them into solitude and unite them to himself in intimate love. In obedience to such a call, Master Bruno (“a man of always joyful countenance”), with six companions, entered the desert of Chartreuse, in the year of the Lord 1084, and settled there. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they and their successors, learning from experience, developed their own particular style of hermit life, which was handed down to succeeding generations, not by the written word, but by example.” (Prologue to the Statutes of the Carthusian Order)

The key element was a small community of hermits on the model of the Lauras of Palestine in the 4th century. Guigo, 5th Prior of the hermitage of Chartreuse, wrote a description of their way of life. Several communities which were founded in imitation of that hermitage adopted their observance as their rule and bond of love. In 1140, under St Anthelm, the first General Chapter was gathered: a new family was born, which became known as the Carthusian Order. Around 1500, there were Charterhouses throughout Europe. Despite the vicissitudes of the later centuries, the Carthusian Order is at present composed of 21 communities (16 of monks and 5 of nuns) in 3 continents. A living tradition has been passed on without interruption for over 900 years. The goal is always the same: “To seek God more ardently, to find him more quickly and to possess him more wholly. Thus, by God’s grace, we may be enabled to attain to perfect love, which is the aim of our profession, as of all monastic life, and which will lead us to eternal beatitude.” (Prologue 4)

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Lk 10:27)