Saint of the Day – 1 April – Saint Hugh of Grenoble (1053-1232) Bishop, Reformer, in the foundation of the Carthusian Order, founded a Monastery at Chalais. Born in 1053 at Chateauneuf, Dauphiné, France and died on 1 April 1132 in Grenoble, France of natural causes. Patronages – against headaches, of Grenoble, France. Also known as – Hugh of Châteauneuf, Ugo, Hughes. Additional Memorial – 22 April (Carthusians).
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Grenoble in Burgundia, in today’s France, St Hugh, Bishop, who worked for the reform of the customs of the clergy and the people and, during his Episcopate, ardently loving solitude, gave St Bruno at the time, his teacher and to his companions, the hermitage of Chartroux, of which he was also the first Abbot. He ruled his Church for about fifty years with the thoughtful example of his charity.”
Hugh was born at Châteauneuf-sur-Isère, County of Albon., as the son of a soldier named Odilo, a man known for his Christian life,and who later became a Cistercian Monk; his mother was known for her life of prayer and alms-giving. Hugh was the uncle of Saint Hugh of Bonnevaux, who is also celebrated today. He showed piety and theological facility from a young age. and was an exceptional student in all his studies. While still a layman, Hugh was made a Canon of Valence. His piety was such ,that it was said of him, that he only knew one woman by sight.
At the Council of Avignon in 1080, he was elected Bishop of Grenoble, although he was not yet ordained. The See of Grenoble had fallen into a very poor state and Hugh was selected to be its Gregorian renovator. Conducted by a papal legate to Rome, Hugh was Ordained by Pope Gregory VII himself. Upon his return, he immediately set to the task of reforming the abuses in his new Diocese. When he had not succeeded, to his satisfaction, in countering abuse and fostering devotion after two years, he tried to resign his bishopric and enter the Benedictine Monastery at Cluny. However, the Pope ordered him to continue his Episcopal work.
For the rest of the 11th century, his Episcopate was marked by strife with Count Guigues III of Albon over the possession of Ecclesiastic lands. Hugh alleged that the Count had usurped the lands from the Bishopric of Grenoble with the help of Bishop Mallen of Grenoble. Only in 1099. an accord was finally reached between Hugh and Count Guigues The Count agreed to cede the disputed territories while Hugh admitted to the Count’s temporal authority within the vicinity of Grenoble.
Hugh was also instrumental in the foundation of the Carthusian Order. He received Bruno of Cologne, his own teacher and six of his companions in 1084, after seeing them under a banner of seven stars in a vision. Hugh installed the seven in a snowy and rocky Alpine location called Chartreuse. They founded a Monastery and devoted their lives to prayer and study, being often visited by Hugh, who was reported to have adopted much of their way of life. Hugh also founded the nearby Monastery at Chalais, which grew into an independent order.
St Hugh served his See for 52 years, although he had earnestly solicited Pope Innocent II for leave to resign his bishopric, that he might die in solitude but was never able to obtain his request. For the last forty years of his life, he was afflicted with almost continual headaches and pains in the stomach God was pleased to purify his soul by a lingering illness before He called him to Himself.
Some time before his death ,his memory became vague and cloudy for everything but his prayers; the psalter and the Lord’s Prayer, which he recited with great devotion, almost without intermission and he was said to have repeated the latter, three hundred times in one night. Being told that so constant an attention would increase his fever he said, “It is quite otherwise; by prayer I always find myself stronger.”
Hugh was Canonised on 22 April 1134 by Pope Innocent II, only two years after his death. During the French Wars of Religion the Huguenots burned his body.