St Bruno Abbot Confessor
Bruno Hartenfaust was born at Cologne (Germany) of distinguished parents and frequented the famous episcopal school at Reims. Ordained priest at 25, he received a canonry at Cologne but was recalled by the Bishop of Rheims to assist in directing his former school. His master, the saintly Heriman, had for some time contemplated entering a monastery, and when he carried out his plan a year after Bruno’s arrival, the young Saint was made director of the Episcopal school and supervisor of all the educational institutions of the diocese.
St Bruno filled this difficult and responsible position for 20 years and maintained the school’s high teaching tradition. In 1075 he was also appointed Chancellor and Canon-theologian for the diocese. But after the death of his friend, Bishop Gervais, the See was occupied by the worldly and violent Manasses I, who was later suspended and had to flee for his life in a popular uprising. Bruno and six companions thereupon carried out a vow made some years before to leave the world and embrace the monastic life. From St Hugh, the Bishop of Grenoble, they received the wild Alphine solitude called Chartreuse, and here they erected their first cells in 1084 and began a life of prayer, manual labour and study. They lived in extreme mortification, silence and poverty, completely secluded even from one another except at divine service and at recreation. That was the beginning of the Eremitical Order of Carthusians, which always had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
Bruno, however, was to spend only six years at the Chartreuse, for Pope Urban II, one of his former pupils at Reims, called him to Rome as his adviser and confessor. This Pope’s principal aim was to continue the reform of the clergy which had been initiated by Pope St Gregory VII; but he had to contend with an anti-pope, Guibert, and the Emperor Henry IV, whose military successes made it necessary for him to take refuge in southern Italy. Bruno tried repeatedly to prevail upon the Pope to let him return to his much cherished solitary life, but Urban wished him to remain within call, and so had a new monastery founded in Calabria, where Bruno died on 6 October 1101. His Grande Chartreuse continued to grow until it controlled some 250 monasteries.
St Bruno has never been formally canonized since the Carthusians are averse to all forms of publicity, but he is invoked for the deliverance of possessed persons.