Carthusian bishop and missionary to England. Born in Avalon Castle in Burgundy, France, the son of William, Lord of Burgundy, Hugh was raised by monks at Villard Benoit after his mother died when he was eight. While groomed to enter the Augustinian Canons, he was instead drawn to the contemplative life and became a Carthusian in 1160, while visiting the Grande Chartreuse. In 1175, he was invited by King Henry II to found the first English Charterhouse of the Order at Witham, in Somerset. This foundation was part of the king penances for the murder of St. Thomas Becket. Hugh then became bishop of Lincoln in 1181 at the command of the king, accepting the office only after he was duly and freely elected. Renowned for his goodness and deep learning, Hugh disagreed with Henry and King Richard the Lionhearted on many occasions, but he never lost their respect nor ceased attempting to wield his saintly influence for the good of the Church and the English people. He was also a fervent defender of the English Jews, Protecting them from armed mobs. At his funeral, his bier was carried by notables, including the kings of England and Scotland. Hugh died in Lincoln on November 16, after a journey to France, and his tomb was a popular pilgrim site until its despoilment at the command of King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Canonized in 1220 by Pope Honorius III, he became the first Carthusian saint.
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By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
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