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The Catholic Defender: Saint Hugh of Grenoble


St. Hugh was born in 1053 in southeastern France of the Day for April 1

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.

He was eloquent as a preacher.He restored his own cathedral, made civic improvements in the town, and weathered a brief exile. Hugh may be best known as patron and benefactor of Saint Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order. He died in 1132, and was canonized only two years later.


Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He was born in the Dauphine region and became a canon of the cathedral in Valence. In 1080, while attending a synod in Avignon, Hugh was named bishop of Grenoble. He attempted a massive reform of the diocese, but, discouraged, retired to Chaise Dieu Abbey, and became a Benedictine. Pope St. Gregoiy VII ordered him back to Grenoble. Hugh gave St. Bruno the land on which the Grande Chartreuse was founded, thus starting the Carthusians. Hugh died on April 1 and was canonized by Pope Innocent II.


Today’s saint could be a patron for those of us who feel so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that we don’t know where to begin.


Hugh, who served as a bishop in France for 52 years, had his work cut out for him from the start. Corruption seemed to loom in every direction: the buying and selling of Church offices, violations of clerical celibacy, lay control of Church property, religious indifference and/or ignorance. After serving as bishop for two years, he’d had his fill. He tried disappearing to a monastery, but the pope called him back to continue the work of reform.


Ironically, Hugh was reasonably effective in the role of reformer—surely because of his devotion to the Church but also because of his strong character. In conflicts between Church and state he was an unflinching defender of the Church. He fearlessly supported the papacy. He was eloquent as a preacher. He restored his own cathedral, made civic improvements in the town, and weathered a brief exile.


Hugh may be best known as patron and benefactor of Saint Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order. He died in 1132, and was canonized only two years later.


In the midst of our confusing life these days, let us pray for the ability to rise above the fray and to see things in the light of faith as did Saint Hugh.


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.


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.


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.

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