St. Hugh of Grenoble
Hugh was born at Châteauneuf-d'Isère, near Valence in the Dauphiné, France in the year 1052. Little is known of his early life except that his military father, Odilo, had been married twice and died at the age of 100 after receiving Viaticum from his son, Bishop Hugh.
Hugh was well educated at Valence and at foreign schools. At a very young age he was appointed canon at the Cathedral of Valence even though still a layman. His brilliance, as well as his modesty, courtesy and kindliness so impressed Bishop Hugh of Die, that the bishop took him into his household.
Young Canon Hugh proved to be a very able negotiator and in 1080 was invited to attend the synod at Lyon with the Bishop of Die. Many of the Synod members saw in Hugh a man capable of dealing with the disorders present in the diocese of Grenoble which had been without a bishop. He was unanimously elected and reluctantly accepted ordination to the priesthood. At twenty seven he was consecrated bishop by Pope Gregory VII.
Hugh was appalled by the disorders present among the people of his diocese. He labored unceasingly to bring about the reform of both clergy and laity. While others saw his efforts as truly successful, Hugh seemed only aware of his failures and sought to retire to the Abbey of Chaise-Dieu and have another, more able man replace him. However, Pope Gregory commanded him to resume his pastoral duties and Hugh returned to Grenoble where he spent the next fifty years preaching the Gospel and exhorting all to live the life of Christ.
It was Hugh who gave St. Bruno the desert land of Chartreuse for the now famous Carthusian monastery, La Grand Chartreuse. Hugh would often visit and sometimes spend too much time there in prayer and menial work and St. Bruno would have to remind him of his duties to his diocese. It was Hugh's example which saved many of his people during a famine. He sold some of the precious stones from the church treasury as well as a gold chalice to buy food for his people. Many of the noblemen of the area, impressed by his example, did likewise.
During the last years of his life, Hugh suffered from a painful illness, but his patient endurance without complaint greatly impressed those who cared for him. He died at Grenoble France on April 1, 1132 and was canonized in 1134 by Pope Innocent II.
Hugh has been described as a very good looking, brilliant and multi-talented gentleman. His courtesy, gentleness and modesty endeared him to the hearts of all. He could have had a very successful civil or military career. Instead he chose to listen to God's call. He felt himself truly unworthy and incapable of the duties of the bishopric and preferred a life of solitude and prayer. But, when the pope commanded him to return to his diocese, he gave himself wholeheartedly to the work of caring for his flock in imitation of and commitment to his Divine Savior.
© 1998 The Monastery of Christ in the Desert