Founded in 1084 by St. Bruno. The Carthusians attempt to combine the ermetical and cenobetic life. Their ideal combines the best of both forms of monastic life, but, with a decided emphasis on solitude. They are strictly cloistered, and have no active ministry.
They were founded in the French Alps near Grenoble. They follow the Rule of St. Benedict, although interpreted according to their unique Consitutions. Most of their daily life is lived in a small two storey 'cells'. This consists of a five rooms; on the ground floor, a storeroom for timber and fuel, and a workshop with a lathe and other tools; above , an antechamber, a small library with sufficient room for a bookcase, chair, table, and the cell proper, whose furntiure consists of a wooden box bedstead with woolen blankets, and mattress of straw, a table for meals, a few chairs, a stove, and a stall with a prie-Dieu, known as the oratorium. Carthusians spend most of their time in this "cell. They gather together as a community for certain prayers, and for Sunday dinner. This way of life never attracted large numbers. However, it did attract many benefactors who wished to enlist the prayers of the Carthusians.
They are an austere order, but, were very popular in England. Wealthy and influential people wanted to found and support Carthusian foundations. Their monasteries, called Charterhouses, were established in England in 1178 at Witham near Somerset., and the tenth and last one established by Henry V in 1414 at Sheen. London, too, had its Charterhouse. It later became famous because of its resistence to Henry VIII.
Presently, the Carthusians have a large Charterhouse, St Hugh's, near Parkminster. It is a new foundation, and was built with the idea that it could house all the Carthusians being displaced throughout Europe. The Carthusians, alone of all monastic orders, have never undergone a 'reform' and have maintained their original vigor.
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