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Bruno was born in Cologne, Germany, and became a famous teacher at Rheims. He was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. A vendetta was taken upon him for those actions when his own house was plundered.
He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse”— from which comes the word Carthusians. The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers.
Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts.
Hearing of Bruno’s holiness, the pope called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno relocated, and after refusing a bishopric, spent his last years in the wilderness of Calabria.
Bruno never was formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. Pope Clement X extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.
The Carthusians is one of the only religious orders that never has had to be reformed because Bruno got it right from its inception. The Carthusians are known for intense love of a penitential life in solitude.