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St Anthelm

Saint Anthelm was born in 1107 in the Castle Chigin, 6 miles from Chambery in Gaul (France).

He was known early on as a highly principled priest, but concerned mainly with worldly matters. However, Anthelm visited the monastery of the Carthusians, and this changed his view of his priesthood.

St. Anthelm took the habit of St. Bruno in 1137, and during his novitiate he was sent to the Grande Chartreuse (house) of the Order. The monastery was heavily damaged by an avalanche, and the managerial abilities of this young priest shown forth in helping to rebuild and reinvigorate the cell. Two years later, anthelm was made Prior.

Our saint completed the rebuilding of the Grande Chartreuse, added an avalanche defence wall, improved the crop yields and sheepfold, as well as the revenues, and through his personality and sanctity, brought many new novices into the Order. He felt the bounty of the Order unbecoming their simple rule, and proceeded to disburse monies to all who needed it throughout the countryside. In addition, he set about uniting the separate Charter houses of the Order, effectively becoming the first General Minister.

This time brought the first of Anthelm's reclusions, striving to lead a monastic life. He returned to the Grande Chartreuse after building up the House at Portes. In 1159, Pope Alexander III was elected, while anti-pope Victor IV was elected via Emperor Barbarossa. Along with his brothers in the Order, and Geoffrey the Cistercian Abbot of Hautecombe, Anthelm went about championing of Alexander III in France, Spain and England.

In recognition of these services, Alexander promoted Anthelm to the Bishopric of Belley, in spite of vehement objections of the priest-monk. In the new Bishop's first synod, he set about the work of much needed reform. Most of the clergy had forsaken their vow of chastity, and many lived flauntingly as married men. He chose to use persuasion instead of coercion in the first two years, but made an example of many that would not reform themselves by stripping them of their benefices. He was fearless and uncompromising in dealing with the lax laity as well.

St. Anthelm spent his extra time back in the Grande Chartreuse, as well as with a community of sisters at Bons, and also at at a leper house where he would tend the sick himself. After a long life of contemplation and service, Saint Anthelm died in 1178 at the age of 72.

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