The Carthusian order was founded in 1084 by St. Bruno of Cologne, and is an eremitic order, holding to the principle of withdrawal from the world to a life of silent contemplation and prayer. They are often viewed as hermits that live in common, having no active apostolate outside of their Charterhouse. Carthusian life is dramatically different as compared to Benedictine Monasticism, the most prevalent form in the west. Today the Carthusians are a small order, comprising today of 25 houses worldwide with just 350 male and 75 female members. This has not rendered them immune to attack and times of religious or social upheaval have seen members of the order called to make the extreme sacrifice for their beliefs.
During the Hussite Revolution in Bohemia in the 15th century Carthusian houses, as with other Catholic institutions, came under attack. In 1421 the charterhouse in Prague was ransacked and its members lost.
In 1537 during the English Reformation the London Charterhouse was dissolved and its members imprisoned and later executed. Eighteen of these were beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII; three of these (Augustine Webster, John Houghton and Robert Lawrence) were canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI with other English martyrs as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
During the French Revolution numerous Carthusians were persecuted with other Catholic religious and lay persons. Of these Claude Beguignot and Lazarus Tiersot, who died in prison in 1794, have been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
As a closed order the Carthusians do not, on principle, put forward causes for their members, though causes have been promoted by others on their behalf.
- article at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hermitage