- If you're looking for the fictional character from Da Ali G Show, see Bruno.
- For the heretical scientist and theologian see Giordano Bruno
Saint Bruno (Cologne ca 1030 - October 6, 1101) the founder of the Carthusian Order, personally founded the order's first two communities. He was a celebrated teacher at Reims, France, and a close advisor of his former pupil, Pope Urban II.
His funeral elegies celebrate his eloquence, his poetic, philosophical, and theological, talents; and his merit as a teacher is reflected in the merits of his pupils, amongst whom were Eudes of Châtillon, afterwards Pope Urban II, Rangier, Cardinal Bishop of Reggio, Robert, Bishop of Langres, and a large number of prelates and abbots.
Bruno completed his education at the cathedral school at Reims, both in the liberal arts and scripture and returned to be a canon at St. Cunibert's, Cologne, but was recalled to direct the school at Reims in 1056. With the retirement of his former master Heriman the following year, Bruno found himself in charge of the cathedral schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese. For about twenty years, from 1057 to 1075, he maintained the prestige which the school of Reims had attained under its former masters, Remi of Auxerre, Hucbald of St. Amand, Gerbert, and lastly Heriman.
In 1075 Bruno was appointed chancellor of the diocese of Reims, which involved him in the daily administration of the diocese. Meanwhile the pious Bishop Gervais, a friend to Bruno, had been succeeded by Manasses de Gournai, a violent aristocrat with no real vocation for the Church. In 1077, at the urging of Bruno and the clergy at Reims, de Gournai was suspended at a council at Autun. He responded, in typical 11th century fashion, by having his retainers pull down the houses of his accusers; he confiscated their goods, sold their benefices, and even appealed to the pope. Bruno discreetly avoided the cathedral city until in 1080 a definite sentence, confirmed by popular riot, compelled Manasses to withdraw and take refuge with the Emperor Henry IV, the fierce opponent of the ambitious current papacy of Gregory VII.
Upon the verge of being made bishop himself, Bruno instead followed a vow he had made to renounce secular concerns and withdraw, along with two of his friends, Raoul and Fulcius, also canons of Reims.
Bruno's first thought on leaving Reims seems to have been to place himself and his companions under the direction of an eminent solitary, St. Robert, who had recently (1075) settled at Sèche-Fontaine, near Molesme in the Diocese of Langres, together with a band of other hermits, who were later on (in 1098) to form the Cistercian Order. But he soon found that this was not his vocation. After a short stay he went with six of his companions to Saint Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble. The bishop, according to the pious legend, had recently had a vision of these men, under a chaplet of seven stars, and he installed them himself in 1084 in a mountainous and uninhabited spot in the lower Alps of the Dauphiné, in a place named named "Chartreuse" , not far from Grenoble. With St. Bruno were Landuin, Stephen of Bourg and Stephen of Die, canons of St. Rufus, and Hugh the Chaplain, and two laymen, Andrew and Guerin, who afterwards became the first lay brothers.
They built a little retreat where they lived isolated and in poverty, entirely occupied in prayer and study, for these men had a reputation for learning, and frequently honored by the visits of St. Hugh who became like one of themselves.
At the time Bruno's pupil Eudes of Châtillon, had become pope as Urban II (1088). Resolved to continue the work of reform commenced by Gregory VII, and being obliged to struggle against an antipope Guibert of Ravenna , and the Emperor Henry IV, he was in dire need of competent and devoted allies and called his former master to Rome in 1090.
It is difficult to assign the place which Bruno occupied in Rome, or his influence in contemporary events, because it remained entirely hidden and confidential. Lodged in the Lateran with the pope himself, privy to his most private councils, he worked as an advisor but wisely kept in the background, apart from the fiercely partisan rivalries in Rome and within the curia. Shortly after his arrival in Rome, the Papal party was forced to evacuate to the south by the arrival of Henry IV with his own antipope in tow.
In all the upheaval Bruno managed to efface the role he was playing in policy. He did not even attend the Council of Clermont, where Urban preached the First Crusade.He seems to have been present at the Council of Benevento (March, 1091). His part in history is effaced.
During the voyage south, the former professor of Reims attracted attention in Reggio, Calabria, which had just lost its archbishop Arnulph (1090). The Pope and Roger Guiscard , the Norman Duke of Apulia, strongly approved of the election and pressed Bruno to accept it. Bruno side-stepped the offer, which he guided to one of his former pupils nearby at a Benedictine abbey near Salerno. Instead Bruno begged to return again to his solitary life. His intention was to rejoin his brethren in Dauphiné, as a letter addressed to them makes clear. But the will of Urban II kept him in Italy, near the papal court, to which he could be called at need.
The place chosen in 1091 for his new retreat by Bruno and some followers who had joined him was in the diocese of Squillace, in a small forested high valley, where the band constructed a little wooden chapel and cabins. His patron there was Roger Guiscard , Count of Sicily and Calabria and uncle of the Duke of Apulia, who granted them the lands they occupied, and a close friendship developed. Bruno went to the Guiscard court at Mileto to visit the count in his sickness (1098 and 1101), and to baptize his son Roger (1097), the future King of Sicily. But more often Roger went into retreat with his friends, where he erected a simple house for himself. Through his generosity, the monastery of St. Stephen was built in 1095, near the original hermitage dedicated to the Virgin.
At the turn of the new century the friends of St. Bruno died one after the other: Urban II in 1099; Landuin, the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, his first companion, in 1100; Count Roger in 1101. Bruno followed October 6, 1101
After his death, the Carthusians of Calabria, following a frequent custom of the Middle Ages, dispatched a roll-bearer, a servant of the community laden with a long roll of parchment, hung round his neck, who travelled through Italy, France, Germany, and England. stopping to announce the death of Bruno, and in return, the churches, communities, or chapters inscribed upon his roll, in prose or verse, the expression of their regrets, with promises of prayers. Many of these rolls have been preserved, but few are so extensive or so full of praise as that about St. Bruno. A hundred and seventy-eight witnesses, of whom many had known the deceased, celebrated the extent of his knowledge and the fruitfulness of his instruction. Strangers to him were above all struck by his great knowledge and talents. But his disciples praised his three chief virtues-- his great spirit of prayer, an extreme mortification, and a devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
Both the churches built by him in the desert were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin: Our Lady of Casalibus in Dauphiné, Our Lady Della Torre in Calabria; and, faithful to his inspirations, the Carthusian Statutes proclaim the Mother of God the first and chief patron of all the houses of the order, whoever may be their particular patron.
Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of Santa Maria. Though it took centuries for the Catholic Church to canonize the founder of the Carthusians, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Saint Bruno has long been regarded the patron saint of Calabria.
A writer as well as founder of his order, St. Bruno composed commentaries on the Psalms and on the Epistles of St. Paul. Two letters of his also remain, his profession of faith, and a short elegy on contempt for the world which shows that he cultivated poetry. Bruno's Commentaries reveal that he knows a little Hebrew and Greek; he is familiar with the Fathers, especially St. Augustine and St. Ambrose. "His style", says Dom Rivet, "is concise, clear, nervous and simple, and his Latin as good as could be expected of that century: it would be difficult to find a composition of this kind at once more solid and more luminous, more concise and more clear"
In Catholic art, Saint Bruno can be recognized by a skull that he holds and contemplates, with a book and a cross. He may be crowned with a halo of seven stars; or with a roll bearing the device O Bonitas.
His feast is observed on October 6.
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