John Howe

title.none: De Leo, ed., San Bruno di Colonia (John Howe)

identifier.other: baj9928.0611.010 06.11.10

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: John Howe, Texas Tech Univeristy,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2006

identifier.citation: De Leo, Pietro, ed. San Bruno di Colonia: un eremita tra Oriente e Occidente. Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Comitato nazionale celebrazioni IX Centenario della Morte di San Bruno di Colonia, Secondo Convegno Internazionale, Serra San Bruno, 2-5 ottobre 2002. Soveria Mannelli (Catanzaro): Rubbettino, 2004. Pp. xvi, 322. ISBN: $35.00 (pb) 88-498-0857-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 06.11.10

De Leo, Pietro, ed. San Bruno di Colonia: un eremita tra Oriente e Occidente. Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Comitato nazionale celebrazioni IX Centenario della Morte di San Bruno di Colonia, Secondo Convegno Internazionale, Serra San Bruno, 2-5 ottobre 2002. Soveria Mannelli (Catanzaro): Rubbettino, 2004. Pp. xvi, 322. ISBN: $35.00 (pb) 88-498-0857-7.

Reviewed by:

John Howe
Texas Tech Univeristy

Commemorative conferences held at historical sites are problematic in that the participants' experiences of several days of events may be as significant as the conference papers themselves. Inasmuch as such celebrations have their timing dictated by anniversaries, not by research progress, the resulting memoria may be less than revolutionary. These warnings apply to the volume reviewed here, which commemorates the death in 1101 of the founder of the Carthusians, St. Bruno (of Cologne, Rheims, and/or Calabria), and also the memorial conference held in his honor at his Calabrian hermitage of Serra San Bruno. Yet anniversary volumes do present the status quaestionis of their subjects, and this may be especially welcome here since Bruno is a perplexing, poorly documented figure. The conference participants do not successfully bring him out of the shadows, but they do manage to situate him in the Calabria where he spent the last ten years of his life, a retirement that, they imply, historians might do better to view as the culmination of his career of spiritual seeking, not as a wrong turn, an accidental abandoning of the Grande Chartreuse project for which he is generally remembered.

An "Introduzione" by Claudio Leonardi recapitulates the basic outline of Bruno's career (3-12). A native and canon of Cologne, Bruno studied at Rheims so successfully that by 1056 he had become the scholasticus , by 1075 the chancellor. But in 1076 or 1077 his opposition to the simoniacal Bishop Manasses forced him into exile. Bruno may or may not have become a monk at Sèche-Fontaine in 1082 (on this debate, see 108-12). He founded La Grande Chartreuse, the eponymous Carthusian mother house which he directed from 1083-1089, although it is not clear whether it was Bruno or his successors who contributed the most to the peculiar synthesis of hermitism and community life which is documented in the customary of the fourth prior Guigo II (1109-36). In 1089/1090, Urban II, a former student at Rheims, summoned his old professor to the Curia . In 1091 Bruno declined the archbishopric of Reggio (Calabria) which Urban had offered, but he decided to journey there anyway. Although this territory had been ruled for decades by the Normans, it was still largely Greek. Why Bruno chose to make it his home might be less of a mystery if more of his writings had survived. Although scholars have attempted to assign him commentaries on the Psalms and on the Pauline epistles, most consider these attributions unproven and accept as keys to his thought only the two surviving letters he wrote from Calabria (on the debates about the corpus of Bruno's work, see 48). The 178 largely formulaic mortuary roll entries conveying the admiration of disciples, students, and well wishers are analyzed here by Cecilia Falchini (61-70) and Giovanni Leoncini (107-21). Although Bruno's biography was incorporated into an early history of the Carthusians, probably by Prior Guigo, no formal vita was written until the thirteenth century and his most elaborate legends result from a renewed interest in his cult in the sixteenth.

Was Bruno a link between Latin and Greek spirituality? Enrico Morini claims that Greek monasticism in Calabria traditionally embodied a dynamic tension between hermitism and cenobitism; he describes hybrid organizations that theoretically privilege hermitism and asceticism, even in more exotic forms such as ritual nudity (13-30). Filippo Burgarella focuses more closely on eastern eremitical traditions in Calabria in Bruno's time, looking at Greek saints who were Bruno's contemporaries; he documents several contacts between Bruno's foundation and its Greek counterparts (31-45).

Papers here also attempt to recover the relatively neglected history of Bruno's hermitage at Serra di Calabria (now Serra San Bruno), from the time of Bruno's death, which had been immediately preceded by the deaths of his patrons Urban II (d. 1099) and Count Roger (d. 1101), up until the year 1192 when it was incorporated into the Cistercian order. Pietro De Leo examines the "Charterhouse of Calabria," at which Bruno had professed 33 disciples. Contemplatives, cenobites, and conversi all required separate structures, recorded in customs written by Bruno's second successor Lambert (1116-1122). These differ enough from those written slightly later for La Grande Chartreuse so as to inspire debate about whether both foundations were or were not "Carthusian." In the early sixteenth century, Bruno's Calabrian monastic complex was reclaimed by the Carthusians in a complex and expensive restoration effort which James Hogg describes and documents here (71-105).

Another concern is the spirituality of Bruno's world. Réginald Grégoire compares and contrasts Cistercian and Carthusian spirituality, emphasizing common roots but stressing the Benedictine/non Benedictine divide (123-30). Dennis Martin sees the Carthusian quest for holiness in the Church in general as one of the reasons for the order's failure to aggressively pursue the canonization of its individual members (131-49). Pietro Boglioni looks at accounts of miracles in Carthusian-related hagiography and concludes that these hermits, who were so self-effacing that they did not even put their names on their wooden cemetery crosses, were slow to itemize miracles in vita and, especially in the first years of the order, much preferred to stress the marvel of a holy life; increasingly accommodating later, they still allegedly remained more reserved about miracles than other religious orders (151-80). Natalie Nabert examines Carthusian prayer and the traditions of the fathers of the Church, stressing parallels with the literature of the desert fathers (181-95).

Even further removed from Bruno himself are Gabriella Zarri's study on female hermitism (197-210) and Maria Adele Teti's systematic examination of the two waves of (limited) development of Carthusian communities for women (211-42, including 24 illustrations and maps [labeled as 27, with three apparently dropped in printing]). Angela Carolei studies Naples Bibl. Naz. XVI.A.4, the mid twelfth-century martyrology of Santo Stefano del Bosco, part of Bruno's Calabrian foundation, which is actually a version of Usuard's martyrology adapted for Normandy (241-51), as is evident from the many entries for Rouen saints which Carolei appends (a finding which does not indicate that Latins in Norman Italy were liturgically influenced by their Greek neighbors). Valentino Pace examines images of hermits in the art of southern Italy and elsewhere, revealing a surprisingly slim repertoire of eremitical subjects--the only contemporary south Italian saint depicted is a fragmentary facial image of St. Phantinus the Younger (d. 974?). Most of the Greek images of the desert fathers that do survive show saints attired more suitably for the court than for the desert (253-290, including 27 reproductions). However, additional study would have revealed that the artistic repertoire of eremitical images from the Latin West is not much better.

Cosimo Damiano Fonseca offers concluding reflections on "Saint Bruno of Cologne: A Hermit between East and West" (291-300). This volume, together with an earlier one on San Bruno e la Certosa di Calabria (1995), does manage to situate a northern German scholar and monastic founder into a southern context. The case is argued that Bruno, even though he was then around sixty-five years of age, did establish roots in a new land, have some contact with Greek monks, and perhaps manifest in his own life some awareness of the common eremitical ideals he shared with them. Given the fragmentary nature of the materials, much is speculative, but clearly Bruno, as his letter to Rudolph affirmed, was able to find in southern Italy both beauty and divinity in "the pleasant plains which stretched down from the mountains, with their green meadows and flowered pastures." Presumably the conference attendees also did.