Roman Calendar : April 1
Carthusian Calendar : April 1
Although not a Carthusian, St Hugh is venerated in the Order as having been the
prelate who received St Bruno and his companions into his diocese in 1084, forming the first Carthusian family.
St. Hugh was born on in 1052, at Châteauneuf, France near Valence in the Dauphiné.
St. Hugh was born to a pious family. His father, Odilo, was a soldier and he had been married twice. Odilo later became a
Carthusian; as a religious order of great austerity dedicated exclusively to the contemplative life, the Carthusians were
founded by St. Bruno in 1084 in the Chartreuse Mountains, a lonely branch of the French Alps.
Odilo died at the age of 100, receiving viaticum from his son in whose arms he passed
away. After education begun in Valence and completed with distinction in foreign centres of learning, Hugh was presented to
a canonry (the office of a canon) in the cathedral of Valence through still a layman - such benefices at that period being
often conferred on young students without orders. At the time when Hugh was very young, good-looking, and extremely bashful,
he won all hearts by his courtesy and by the modesty which led him to conceal and underrate his talents and learning.
The bishop of Die, another Hugh, was so charmed by his namesake when he came to
Valence that he insisted upon attaching him to his household. The prelate soon proved the young canon's worth by entrusting
him with some difficult negotiations in the campaign then directed against simony; and in 1080 he took him to a synod at Avignon,
called to consider, amongst other matters, the disorders which had crept into the vacant see of Grenoble. The council and
the delegates from Grenoble severally and collectively appear to have looked on Canon Hugh as the one man who was capable
of dealing with the disorders complained of; but through unanimously elected it was with the greatest reluctance that he consented
to accept the office. The legate himself conferred on him holy orders up to the priesthood, and took him to Rome that he might
receive consecration as bishop from the pope. Immediately after consecration, St. Hugh hurried off to his diocese, but he
was appalled by the state of his flock. St. Hugh had the ability in dealing with both the immorality and wickedness that were
predominant and common in Grenoble. St. Hugh was elected bishop at the age of twenty-five.
For two years, Hugh laboured unremittingly. The excellent results he was obtaining
were clear to all but to himself: he only saw his failures and blamed his own incompetence. It had been two years of preaching,
denunciations, rigorous fasts and continuous praying. Because Hugh was discouraged, he quietly withdrew to the Cluniac Abbey
of Chaise-Dieu, where he received the Benedictine habit. He did not remain there long, for Pope Gregory commanded him to resume
his pastoral charge and return to Grenoble.
It was to St. Hugh of Grenoble that St. Bruno and his companions addressed themselves
when they decided to forsake the world, and it was he who granted to them the desert called the Chartreuse, that gave its
name to their order. The bishop became greatly attached to the monks; it was his delight to visit them in their solitude,
joining in their exercises and performing the most menial offices. Sometimes he would linger so long in these congenial surroundings
that St. Bruno was constrained to remind him of his flock and of his episcopal duties. St. Hugh's preaching with greater intensity
and passion than earlier times at Grenoble, drove several people into the state of sadness and sorrow; St. Hugh was so effective
that some would make confessions in the public. Despite his achievements, St. Hugh would frequently ask one Pope after another
to be transferred; however, the Popes of his time felt he was needed in Grenoble.
A generous almsgiver, St. Hugh in a time of famine sold a gold chalice as well as
rings and precious stones from his church treasury; and rich men were stirred by his example to give liberally to feed the
hungry and supply the needs of the diocese. His actions were perfect examples in helping the needy, avoiding unimportant money
and belongings, and living a true Christian life. St. Hugh's charitable actions and way of living helped influence, teach
and persuade other rich people into giving generously to the hungry and needy.
Although at the end of life his soul was further purified by a lingering illness
of a very painful character, Hugh never uttered a word of complaint, nor would he speak of what he endured. St. Hugh had suffered
drastic health problems in the last forty years of his life. A short time before his death he lost his memory for everything
but prayer, and he would recite the psalter or the Lord's Prayer without intermission. St. Hugh died on 1 April 1132, having
been a bishop for fifty-two years. Pope Innocent II canonized him two years later.