Carthusians (kärthōˈzhənz) [key], small order of monks of the Roman Catholic Church [Lat. abbr., = O. Cart.]. It was established by St. Bruno at La Grande Chartreuse (see Chartreuse, Grande) in France in 1084. The Carthusians are peculiar among orders of Western monasticism in cultivating a nearly eremitical life: each monk lives by himself with cell and garden and, except for communal worship, scarcely meets the others. No order is more austere. The Carthusian enclosure is called charterhouse in English, and its architecture differs necessarily from that of the Benedictine abbey. The Charterhouse of London was famous, and the Certosa di Pavia, Italy, is an architectural monument. The Carthusians are devoted mainly to contemplation. In 1973 they numbered 440 members throughout the world, of whom there were 10 in the United States, living at the Charterhouse of Arlington, Vt. They are unchanging in their rule, their independence, and their original way of life. There are a very few Carthusian nuns following a similar rule. Chartreuse is the well-known liqueur manufactured by Carthusians in France.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Carthusians from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Roman Catholic Orders and Missions