The Carthusian Order and the Pope

[English] [Español]

A few days ago we commemorated the anniversary of the foundation of the first Carthusian monastery, on June 24, 1084, in the Chartreuse Massif (France), on the initiative of St. Bruno and six companions. And today, June 29, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, martyred in Rome. Peter is remembered for being the first Pope, and that is why this day is also called «Pope’s Day».

Visit of St. Bruno to Pope Urban II (Zurbarán)

It does not seem to be a coincidence that the anniversary of the foundation of the Order and Pope’s day are so close in time. It seems rather a sign of the closeness that has existed between the See of Peter and the Order since its origins. In fact, out of obedience to Pope Urban II, in the year 1090, St. Bruno leaves the newly founded monastery in Chartreuse to become the Holy Father’s advisor in Rome.

It did not seem that St. Bruno was able to adjust to the curial environment. In fact, a year after his arrival to Rome, in 1091, Urban II granted St. Bruno permission to retire and live a totally eremitical life. He set him only one condition: that he should not leave Italy, so that he could continue to count on his advice. It was then that St. Bruno founded the Carthusian monastery of Serra San Bruno. And after ten years, he died there.

Pope John Paul II at the Carthusian Monastery of Serra San Bruno (1984)

Years later this second Carthusian monastery became a Cistercian monastery. But in 1514, the year of the beatification of St. Bruno, the monastery once again became a monastery of the Carthusian Order. It is in this charterhouse that the relics of St. Bruno are preserved. Among those who have gone to venerate them are two popes: St. John Paul II (in 1984) and Pope Benedict XVI (in 2011).

Pope Benedict XVI prays Vespers at the Carthusian Monastery of Serra San Bruno (2011)

Finally, it is worth mentioning that on June 3, 2014 Pope Francis wrote a letter to Dom François-Marie Velut, then General of the Order, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the beatification of St. Bruno. In this letter he said about the saint:

I thank God for this beautiful and radiant figure. Bruno’s life, rich in the Gospel, continues to be an inspiration for men and women who desire to follow Jesus in a special way through prayer, and who offer themselves for the salvation of the world.

Five centuries have already passed since Leo X decided to include Bruno in the liturgical calendar after observing the devotion of so many of the faithful to the servant of God. Even today, the whole of his existence, all of it dedicated to the assiduous search for God and communion with Him, remains a shining star on the horizon for the Church and the world.

I greet with special affection and admiration the spiritual daughters and sons of this great saint. In a powerful and beautiful way, their religious consecration points out to the people of this time the faith in God revealed in Jesus Christ. This faith is the true and only light «capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence (…). Faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion.» (Lumen Fidei 4)

Benedict XVI’s made a memorable visit to the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno in 2011. During that visit he asserted that the current socio-cultural situation is characterized at times by noise and at other times by individualistic solitude. I make my own the words of my predecessor in reiterating that, in this situation, «the specific charism of the Charterhouse comes to the fore as a precious gift for the Church and for the world. This is a gift that contains a profound message for our life and for all humanity.» (Homily of Pope Benedict XVI at the Carthusian Monastery of Serra San Bruno, October 9, 2011)

I encourage the monks and nuns to renew their lives by offering themselves to the Lord. I entrust the Carthusian Order to the maternal solicitude of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Bruno. And I willingly grant them a special apostolic blessing.

Let us pray on this day for the health and intentions of Pope Francis and for the unity of the Church.

Pope Francis blesses an icon of St. Bruno

Source: Cartusia Lover