Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 21 September |
The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What you need to know about the Order of St. Bruno (Carthusians)


Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/09/18

A brief guide to a religious order made famous by the movie 'Into Great Silence.'

Several centuries after the founding of the Benedictine Order, a learned man named Bruno was frustrated with the corruption of priests and bishops in the city and ventured out to the wilderness to seek out a place of solitude and peace.

In 1084 a bishop of Grenoble, France, offered to Bruno a valley located in the Chartreuse mountains. Bruno arrived at the valley with six other companions and they build a few log cabins to live together in a religious community. A unique type of contemplative life arose from this small community that later spread across Europe and the world.

Here is a brief guide to the order, detailing the basics of this distinct mode of religious life.


Read more:
What you need to know about the Order of St. Benedict

Names & Abbreviations: Order of St. Bruno, Carthusians (after the Chartreuse valley), O.Cart.

Date of Foundation: 1084

Founder: St. Bruno

Motto & Charism: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, Latin for “The Cross is steady while the world is turning.”

According to the Carthusian Order’s website, “The only goal of the Carthusian way is CONTEMPLATION, by the power of the Spirit, living as unceasingly as possible in the light of the love of God for us, made manifest in Christ. This implies a purity of heart, or charity: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ (Matthew 5:8) Monastic tradition also calls this goal pure and continuous prayer.”

Additionally, “The first essential characteristic of our life is the vocation of solitude, to which we are especially called. The Carthusian monk searches for God in solitude. ‘The primary application of our vocation is to give ourselves to the silence and solitude of the cell. It is holy ground, the area where God and his servant hold frequent conversations, as between friends. There, the soul often unites itself to the Word of God, bride to the groom, the earth to the sky, man to the divine.'”

This solitude is “lived on three levels: Separation from the world, The cell, Interior solitude, or solitude of the heart.”

Yet, while the monks primarily live in solitude and silence, there is also an aspect of community life that unites them in their interior search for God. This includes common liturgical celebrations as well as times for recreation and fellowship. In all things Carthusians seek simplicity.

In English, Carthusian communities are known as charterhouses, from an Anglo-French pronunciation of Chartreuse.

Examples of Carthusian Communities: Some Carthusian communities include the Grande Chartreuse (featured in Into Great Silence), the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration and St. Hugh’s Charterhouse.

Famous Carthusians: St. Anthelm, and St. Hugh of Lincoln


Read more:
What you need to know about the Order of St. Augustine


Read more:
These Christian monasteries are the oldest in the world

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
Zelda Caldwell
A pilgrimage to Paris’ Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.