A Garner of Saints – Saint Bruno

detail of a statue of Saint Bruno refusing a bishop's mitre, by Michaelangelo Slodtz, 1744; Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, ItalyArticle

Born at Cologne in the first half of the eleventh century, and after completing his education there and at Paris, and greatly distinguishing himself, he repaired to Rheims, where he became the superintendent of the schools of the diocese and taught theology in the college. While he was thus engaged, one Raymond, a doctor of theology, a man of great repute for learning and sanctity and an eloquent preacher, was taken ill and died with every external mark of piety. His obsequies were attended by all his friends and acquaintances, including Bruno, but when an attempt was made to raise the bier, the corpse rose up and exclaimed, “By the just judgment of God I am accused.” Those present fled in dismay, and at a second attempt the body again rose and cried, “By the just judgment of God I am judged.” At a third attempt it again rose and cried, “By the just judgment of God I am condemned,” so that none dared to give Raymond Christian burial. This terrible scene made a deep impression upon Bruno, and from that moment he resolved to lead an austere life of solitude. In this resolution he was joined by six friends, and instructed by a dream in which three angels appeared to him, Bruno resolved to visit Bishop Hugh at Grenoble. About the same time, the bishop saw seven stars rising from the ground, which seemed to lead him to the valley of the Chartreuse hard by, where Christ appeared and commanded him to build a church. Bruno and his companions distributed their property to the poor and left Rheims for Grenoble, where the bishop received them gladly and told them of his dream. After some days he took them to the Chartreuse, made over the property of the district to them, built them a church surrounded by seven cells, and gave them a new habit, since known as that of the Carthusian order. They settled here and lived with the utmost austerity in perpetual silence, in prayer and labour, supporting themselves by the transcription of religious books. After this had endured for six years, Bruno was summoned to Rome by Urban II, who required his assistance. He went with great reluctance, and after many entreaties and refusing the archbishopric of Reggio, he obtained permission to retire to Squillace in Calabria, where he founded the monastery of La Torre. One day Count Roger of Sicily, who was out hunting, found him at his devotions in the forest. The count immediately dismounted out of reverence and knelt before the saint, with whom he subsequently discoursed, but Bruno refused the rich gifts which he offered. Not long afterwards one of Roger’s captains, a Greek named Sergius, undertook to slay his master, at the instigation of the prince of Capua, who was warring against the Count. But on the night appointed for the murder Bruno appeared to Roger in a dream, as he slept in his tent, and revealed the treachery; and immediately the Count awoke and his life was saved. Out of gratitude for this service, Roger bestowed many privileges on Bruno and his monastery. During the remainder of his life Bruno dwelt at La Torre, and died there in the odour of sanctity, 1101. 6th October.

Attributes

  • Wears the white Carthusian habit, and carries a death’s head.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Bruno”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 19 November 2017. <>