Sunday, March 30, 2014

At the beginning of the Charterhouse God did show

An Anonymous Carthusian Monk in England
f. 22r, A four-part image of The founding of the Carthusian Order by St Hugh of Grenoble 
f. 22v, A Carthusian monk at the Grande Chartreuse, mother house of the Order
From ff. 22r-v, A poem on the founding of the Carthusian order (29 couplets), incipit:’At þe begynyng of þe chartirhows god dyd schewe To þe byschop of Gracionapolitane saynt Hewe’; explicit: ‘ Upon þe liif of J[es]u crist god almyghty’ 
From A Carthusian miscellany of poems, chronicles, and treatises in Northern English, including an epitome or summary of Mandeville's travels
1460 - 1500
Ink on paper
27 x 20 mm
The British Library, London

One manuscript that was a priority for digitisation by The British Library was a 15th-century collection of Middle English religious verse, Additional MS 37049.

The catalogue entry is here

The Transcription of the first twelve lines of the poem below the drawings, is taken from Jessica Brantley: Reading in the Wilderness: Private Devotion and Public Performance in Late Medieval England, University Of Chicago Press, 2007, ISBN 0226071324, p. 19:
At þe begynyng of þe chartirhows god dyd schewe
To þe byschop of gracionapolitane, saynt hewe,
Seuen sternes goyng in wildernes to þat place
Wher now þe ordir of þe chartirhows abydyng has.
And when þes sternes at þat place had bene
At þe bischop's fete, þai felle al bedene;
And aftyr þis visione þe sothe for to saye,
þe doctor Bruno and sex felows, withouten delay,
Come to þis holy bischop, cownsel to take,
To lyf solytary in wildernes, and þis warld to forsake
And at his feete mekly downe þai al felle,
Praying hymn of informacioun and his cownsell to telle.

The first English charterhouse was founded at Witham in Somerset by King Henry II in 1178, the tenth and last by Henry V in 1414 at Sheen. 

At the time of Henry VIII's breach with Rome the monks, especially those of the London charterhouse (founded 1370), offered resistance. 

On 4th May 1535, there were executed as martyrs  three Carthusian Priors, John Houghton of London, Robert Lawrence of Beauvale, and Augustus Webster of Axholme. 

During the next five years, fifteen of the London Carthusians perished on the scaffold or were starved to death in Newgate Gaol

The founding of the Order involved dreams

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655) between 1645 and 1648 painted a series of 22 paintings showing the life of St Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian Order, all for the convent of the Carthusians in Paris

In the work below Le Sueur depicts the vision of three angels in a dream which St Bruno had. They commanded him to seek out Saint Hugh, the Bishop of Grenoble, who would show Bruno and his companions where they should found their monastery: La Grande Chartreuse

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655)
Le songe de saint Bruno 
1645 - 1648 
1,93 m  x 1,30 m.
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Likewise St Hugh had a dream in which he saw seven stars approaching, a foretelling of the seven companions coming to attend on him and seek his advice

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655)
Arrivée de saint Bruno à Grenoble chez saint Hugues
1645 - 1648 
1,93 m  x 1,30 m.
Musée du Louvre, Paris

On being shown the site, the seven set to work building their monastery on the site of the Grande Chartreuse

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655)
Saint Bruno fait construire le monastère
1645 - 1648 
1,93 m  x 1,30 m.
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The seven were given the white habit of their order from the hands of St Hugh

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655)
Saint Bruno et ses compagnons reçoivent l'habit blanc des Chartreux des mains de saint Hugues.
1645 - 1648 
1,93 m  x 1,30 m.
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The role of Saint Hugh of Châteauneuf (1053 – 1 April 1132), the Bishop of Grenoble from 1080 to his death in the foundation of the great Cartusian Order can not be underestimated

Hugh was canonised on 22 April 1134 by Pope Innocent II, only two years after his death

In his article (1908) in The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Douglas Raymund Webster noted:
"The Carthusian liturgy differs considerably from the Roman Rite, being substantially that of Grenoble in the twelfth century with some admixture from other sources."

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