Carthusian Brothers in the Kitchen of The Grand Chartreuse
A Monks Cell in Carthusian monastery The Grand Chartreuse
Before leaving the neighbourhood I paid a visit to the Chapelle de St. Bruno, which is within half an hour's walk of the monastery. It is erected in a very wild spot, said to be the site of the saint's original hermitage. There is nothing particularly interesting in the chapel, which is in a state of dilapidation. But it is curious to speculate that here dwelt, in what was little more than a cavern, the man who, by the austerity of his life and his gloomy views, was able to found a religious Order which has endured for many ages, and is one of the few that escaped destruction during the revolutions and upheavals of the last century. The situation of the Chapelle is one of singular loneliness and desolation, and for eight months of the year at least it is buried in snow.
In the Chapel at daybreak
This strange community of Carthusians is divided into categories of "Fathers" and "Brothers." The former wear robes of white wool, cinctured with a girdle of white leather. Their heads and faces are closely shaven, and the head is generally enveloped in a cowl, which is attached to the robe. They are all ordained priests, and it is to them the rule of silence, solitude, and fasting, more particularly applies. The fasting is represented by the daily bill of fare I have given, and it never varies all the year round, except on Fridays and certain days in Lent, when, poor as it is, it is still further reduced. The solitude consists of many hours spent in prayer in the loneliness of the cell, and the silence imposed is only broken by monosyllabic answers to questions addressed to them. Sustained conversation is a fault, and would be severely punished. Aspirants for the Fatherhood have to submit to a most trying novitiate, which lasts for five full years. After that they are ordained, and from that moment they renounce the world, with all its luring temptations and its sin. Their lives henceforth must be strictly holy in accordance with the tenets of their religion. The Brothers are the manual labourers, the hewers of wood and drawers of water. They do everything that is required in the way of domestic service. They wear sandals on their bare feet, and their bodies are clothed in a long, loose, brown robe, fastened at the waist by a rope girdle. On both branches of the Order the same severe régime is compulsory, but on Fridays the Brothers only get a morsel of black bread and a cup of cold water. The attention to spiritual duties is all-absorbing, and under no circumstances must it be relaxed. Matins commence in the chapel at twelve o'clock at night, and continue until about two o'clock.
Trial proof of the key block of Christ on the Mount of Olives, after Bassano. National Gallery of Art
Constantine the Great, founder of Constantinople, had the monogram of Christ placed on the labarum, or imperial stamdard; It was the Greek letter X (chi) with a P (rbo) placed perpendicularly though it, forming the first two letters of the name Christ, in Greek
Jesus on Cross
Crucifixion of Christ
Trial proof of the key block of center sheet of The Crucifixion, after Tintoretto. National Gallery of Art (Rosenwald Collection).
Ignatius de Loyola, 1491-1556 A.D.
Inigo Lopez de Recalde, or Loyola, as he is commonly known, was born at Guipuzcoa, in Spain, in 1491. He was educated as a page in the court [pg 262]of Ferdinand the Catholic. He afterwards became a soldier and led a very wild life until his twenty-ninth year. During the siege of Pamplona, in 1521, he was severely wounded, and while convalescing he was given lives of Christ and of the saints to read. His perusal of these stories of spiritual combat inspired a determination to imitate the glorious achievements of the saints.
Dominic de Guzman, 1170-1221 A.D.
Half-way between Osma and Aranda in Old Castile, Spain, is a little village known as "the fortunate Calahorra." Here was the castle of the Guzmans, where Dominic was born. His family was of high `rank` and character, a noble house of warriors, statesmen and saints. If we accept the legends, his greatness was foreshadowed. Before his birth, his mother dreamed she saw her son under the figure of a black-and-white dog, with a torch in his mouth. "A true dream," says Milman, "for he will scent out heresy and apply the torch to the faggots;" but, as will be seen later, this observation does not rest on undisputed evidence.
When about twenty years of age he entered the monastery at Citeaux with five of his brothers. His genius might have secured ecclesiastical preferment, but he chose to dig ditches, plant fields and govern a monastery. He entered the cloister at Citeaux because the monks were few and poor, and when it became crowded because of his fame, and its rule became lax because of the crowds, he left the cloister to found a home of his own. The abbot selected twelve monks, following the number of apostles, and at their head placed young Bernard. He led the twelve to the valley of Wormwood, and there, in a cheerless forest, he established the monastery of Clairvaux, or Clear Valley. His rule was fiercely severe because he himself loved hardships and rough fare. "It in no way befits religion," he writes, "to seek remedies for the body, nor is it good for health either. You may now and then take some cheap herb,--such as poor men may,--and this is done sometimes. But to buy drugs, to hunt up doctors, to take doses, is unbecoming to religion and hostile to purity." His success in winning men to the monastic life was almost phenomenal. It was said that "mothers hid their sons, wives their husbands, and companions their friends, lest they be persuaded by his eloquent message to enter the cloister." "He was avoided like a plague," says one.
The most usual foreign pilgrimages were to the Holy Land, the scene of our Lord’s earthly life; to Rome, the centre of western Christianity; and to the shrine of St. James at Compostella.
The number of pilgrims to these places must have been comparatively limited; for a man who had any regular business or profession could not[Pg 160] well undertake so long an absence from home. The rich of no occupation could afford the leisure and the cost; and the poor who chose to abandon their lawful occupation could make these pilgrimages at the cost of others; for the pilgrim was sure of entertainment at every hospital, or monastery, or priory, probably at every parish priest’s rectory and every gentleman’s hall, on his way; and there were not a few poor men and women who indulged a vagabond humour in a pilgrim’s life. The poor pilgrim repaid his entertainer’s hospitality by bringing the news of the countries through which he had passed, and by amusing the household after supper with marvelous saintly legends, and traveler’s tales.
The Parish Clerk sprinkling the Knight and Lady
Picture shows the costume and the holy water-pot and aspersoir, and to indicate how he went into all the rooms of the house now into the hall sprinkling the lord and lady who are at breakfast.
The Parish Clerk sprinkling the Cook
The picture will shows the costume and the holy water-pot and aspersoir, and to indicate how he went into all the rooms of the house—now into the kitchen sprinkling the cook.
The picture which we here give of an anchoress, is taken from a figure of St. Paula, one of the anchorite saints of the desert.
The best and clearest illustration which we have been able to find of the usual costume in which the hermits are represented, we here give to the reader. It is from the figure of St. Damasus, one of the group in the fine picture of “St. Jerome,” by Cosimo Roselli (who lived from 1439 to 1506), now in the National Gallery. The hermit-saint wears a light-brown frock, and scapular, with no girdle, and, over all, a cloak and hood of the same colour, and his naked feet are protected by wooden clogs.
The Dominicans and Franciscans arose simultaneously at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Dominic, an Augustinian canon, a Spaniard of noble birth, was seized with a zeal for converting heretics, and having gradually associated a few ecclesiastics with himself, he at length conceived the idea of founding an order of men who should spend their lives in preaching. Simultaneously, Francis, the son of a rich Italian merchant, was inspired with a design to establish a new order of men, who should spend their lives in preaching the Gospel and doing works of charity among the people. These two men met in Rome in the year 1216 a.d.
A woodcut of the fifteenth century, from a manuscript life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the British Museum; the subject is the presentation of the pilgrim earl to the pope, and it enables us to bring into one view the costumes of pope, cardinal, and bishop.
Pilgrim on Horseback
Pilgrim in Hair Shirt and Cloak
The Scriptorium is said to have been usually over the chapter-house. It was therefore a large apartment, capable of containing many persons, and, in fact, many persons did work together in it in a very business-like manner at the transcription of books.
Sometimes a little below the lower knob there is a hook, or a staple, to which we occasionally find a water-bottle or a small bundle attached. The hook is seen on the staff of Lydgate’s pilgrim.
We give another representation from the picture of John Ball, the priest who was concerned in Wat Tyler’s rebellion, taken from a MS. of Froissart’s Chronicle, in the Bibliothèque Impériale at Paris. The whole picture is interesting; the background is a church, in whose churchyard are three tall crosses. Ball is preaching from the pulpit of his saddle to the crowd of insurgents who occupy the left side of the picture.
The picture represents Johanna de Warn, who also gave what is described as a well-built house, with a louvre, in St. Alban’s town. This house, again, is of timber, with traceried windows, an arched doorway with ornamental hinges to the door, and an unusually large and handsome louvre. This louvre was doubtless in the roof of the hall, and probably over a fire-hearth in the middle of the hall, such as that which still exists in the fourteenth-century hall at Pevensey, Kent. The lady’s face is strong corroboration of the theory that these are portraits.
The cut represents a group of Cistercian monks, from a manuscript in the British Museum. It shows some of them sitting with hands crossed and concealed in their sleeves—an attitude which was considered modest and respectful in the presence of superiors; some with the cowl over the head. It will be observed that some are and some are not bearded.
Funeral Service of a Hermit
Rogerus, chaplain of the chapel of the Earl of Warwick, at Flamsted. Over a scarlet gown, is a pink cloak lined with blue; the hood is scarlet, of the same suit as the gown; the buttons at the shoulder of the cloak are white, the shoes red.
Sir Richard de Threton, priest,who was executor of Sir Robert de Thorp, knight, formerly chancellor of the king, and who gave twenty marks to the convent. Our woodcut gives only the outlines of the full-length portrait. In the original the robe and hood are of full bright blue, lined with white; the under sleeves, which appear at the wrists, are of the same colour; and the shoes are red.
the grateful monks of St. Alban’s have recorded the names and good deeds of those who had presented gifts or done services to the convent.
At f. 106 v. is Dns. Bartholomeus de Wendone, rector of the church of Thakreston, and the character of the face leads us to think that it may have been intended for a portrait. His robe and hood and sleeves are scarlet, with black shoes.
The convents of friars were not independent bodies, like the Benedictine and Augustinian abbeys; each order was an organised body, governed by the general of the order, and under him, by provincial priors, priors of the convents, and their subordinate officials. There are usually reckoned four orders of friars—the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustines.
“I found there freres,
All the foure orders,
Techynge the peple
To profit of themselves.”
Piers Ploughman, l. 115.
The four orders are pictured together in the woodcut page from the thirteenth century MS. Harl. 1,527.
They were called Friars because, out of humility, their founders would not have them called Father and Dominus, like the monks, but simply Brother (Frater, Frère, Friar).
In 1098 a.d., arose the Cistercian order. It took the name from Citeaux (Latinised into Cistercium), the house in which the new order was founded by Robert de Thierry. Stephen Harding, an Englishman, the third abbot, brought the new order into some repute; but it is to the fame of St. Bernard, who joined it in 1113 a.d., that the speedy and widespread popularity of the new order is to be attributed. The order was introduced into England at Waverly, in Surrey, in 1128 a.d. The Cistercians professed to observe the rule of St. Benedict with rigid exactness, only that some of the hours which were devoted by the Benedictines to reading and study, the Cistercians devoted to manual labour.
In the year 1084 a.d., the Carthusian order was founded by St. Bruno, a monk of Cologne, at Chartreux, near Grenoble. This was the most severe of all the reformed Benedictine orders. To the strictest observance of the rule of Benedict they added almost perpetual silence; flesh was forbidden even to the sick; their food was confined to one meal of pulse, bread, and water, daily. It is remarkable that this the strictest of all monastic rules has, even to the present day, been but slightly modified; and that the monks have never been accused of personally deviating from it.
The Augustinians claim the great St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, as their founder, and relate that he established the monastic communities in Africa, and gave them a rule. That he did patronise monachism in Africa we gather from his writings, but it is not clear that he founded any distinct order; nor was any order called after his name until the middle of the ninth century.
The woodcut represents the characteristic costume of three orders of religious with whom we have been concerned—a bishop, an abbot, and a clerk.
The Nuns of Fontevraud was another female order of Augustinians, of which little is known. It was founded at Fontevraud in France, and three houses of the order were established in England in the time of Henry II.; they had monks and nuns within the same enclosure, and all subject to the rule of an abbess.
We give here, from the St. Alban’s Book, a woodcut of an abbot on horseback, with a hat over his hood—“an abbot on an ambling pad;” he is giving his benediction in return to the salute of some passing traveller.
An engraving from a manuscript of a semi-choir of minoresses, which is only a portion of a large church interior.
The picture of a semi-choir of Franciscan friars is from a fourteenth-century psalter. The picture is worth careful examination for the costume of the friars—grey frock and cowl, with knotted cord girdle and sandalled feet; some wearing the hood drawn over the head, some leaving it thrown back on the neck and shoulders; one with his hands folded under his sleeves like the Cistercians at p. 17. The precentor may be easily distinguished in the middle stall beating time, with an air of leadership. There is much character in all the faces and attitudes—e.g., in the withered old face on the left, with his cowl pulled over his ears to keep off the draughts, or the one on the precentor’s left, a rather burly friar, evidently singing bass.
The picture represents a priest confessing a lady in a church. The characters in the scene are allegorical; the priest is Genius, and the lady is Dame Nature; but it is not the less an accurate picture of a confessional scene of the latter part of the fourteenth century.
The woodcut represents, probably, the cellarer of a Dominican convent receiving a donation of a fish.
The Franciscans were styled by their founder Fratri Minori—lesser brothers, Friars Minors; they were more usually called Grey Friars, from the colour of their habits, or Cordeliers, from the knotted cord which formed their characteristic girdle. Their habit was originally a grey tunic with long loose sleeves (but not quite so loose as those of the Benedictines), a knotted cord for a girdle, and a black hood; the feet always bare, or only protected by sandals.
The word clericus—clerk—was one of very wide and rather vague significance, and included not only the various grades of clerks in orders, of whom we have spoken, but also all men who followed any kind of occupation which involved the use of reading and writing; finally, every man who could read might claim the “benefit of clergy,” i.e., the legal immunities of a clerk.
The Carmelite Friars had their origin, as their name indicates, in the East. According to their own traditions, ever since the days of Elijah, whom they claim as their founder, the rocks of Carmel have been inhabited by a succession of hermits, who have lived after the pattern of the great prophet. Their institution as an order of friars, however, dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave them a rule, founded upon, but more severe than, that of St. Basil; and gave them a habit of white and red stripes, which, according to tradition, was the fashion of the wonder-working mantle of their prophet-founder.
The four figures in the Vignette are intended to represent the chief protestant reformers; Luther in the centre, Cranmer on his right hand, Knox on his left, and Calvin on his extreme right; each holding in his hand a manuscript or printed copy of the Word of God.
the Rock on which they are standing, is intended to denote the Truth of the doctrine of the Divine Oracle, on which, as on an immutable Rock, the Reformers rested all their claims, in labouring to restore pure Christianity.
Around the Rock of Truth, the waves of Error and Superstition are seen dashing.