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Anthelm of Belley


26 June is the Feast of Anthelm of Belley.

He was born near Chambéry in 1107. He would later receive an ecclesiastical benefice in the area of Belley. When he was thirty years old, he resigned from this position to become a Carthusian monk at Portes. Only two years after joining the order, he was made the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, the motherhouse of his order, which had recently incurred substantial damage.

He was an effective administrator there. While under his direction, the community increased in numbers and fervency. He restored and improved the buildings, including constructing a defensive wall and an aqueduct. The rules of the order were standardized, and changed to allow women the opportunity to enter the order in their own houses. He also brought the other houses of the order into closer alignment with the motherhouse. The monks under his direction included Hugh of Lincoln, who expressed great fondness for Anthelm.

Anthelm continued in his office almost constantly for twenty-four years, barring a period of a few years when he was a hermit.


Anthelm took the side of Alexander III as pope in the schism (which had Victor IV as the alternative). Alexander appointed Anthelm as bishop of Belley. He died at Belley in 1178. Anthelm and Hugh are helpful examples of combining contemplative life and active ministry. Initially, Anthelm sought power – through his involvement in the Church. The example of the Carthusians, however, convinced him that striving for power, authority, and prestige is ultimately an unfulfilling goal. Only union with God fulfils.

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