Only prospective candidates to Carthusian life may make a retreat inside one of our monasteries, after prior arrangement with the novice master of the house (see details below).

Spiritual retreats

The solitary vocation does not allow us to receive in the monastery for a retreat those who are only looking for spiritual renewal. However, it is now possible to make a spiritual retreat in the spirit of Saint Bruno and in a Carthusian environment.

Maison Saint Bruno (former Charterhouse of Sélignac, France)

Some will see in the creation of the Maison Saint Bruno’s (managed simultaneously by the Carthusian Order and the diocese of Belley-Ars) a sign of Divine Providence and, as it were, Saint Bruno’s nod to his lay friends, since the idea of this House, whish is a novelty in Carthusian history, was submitted and accepted as an experiment by the General Chapter of 2001, whish was the year of the 9th centennial of the death of Saint Bruno (6 October 1101 – 2001).

This house receives men and women wishing to make a retreat in a Carthusian cell. Life of this house is as close as possible to the life in a Carthusian monastery. For more details, see the website

Retreats of discernment to the Carthusian life

As stated above, in coherence with our eremitical vocation, we can only receive for a retreat the candidates who are thinking of a possible Carthusian vocation. A minimum of discernment must be done beforehand to make sure that such an experience is opportune.

If you wish to explore the possibility of such a vocation, you should talk first with your spiritual director, if you have one. You are free and his agreement is not necessary, but it is helpful when it is possible. Then you should write to a charterhouse, trying to make yourself sufficiently known, that is, giving information about your age, your studies, your family situation and possibly your professional situation. Above all, say something about your spiritual journey and your journey towards religious life (How long have you been thinking about it? Have you contacted other monasteries? etc.), and to the Charterhouse (How did you come to know about it? Why does it appeal to you? etc.). There is an age limit for men: 45 years.

For those who have difficulty in doing this in writing and live nearby, it is possible to come to the monastery for a couple of hours and speak directly with the novice master. If there is any other difficulty, explain the situation and we will see what can be done.

We would also like to contact a priest or religious who knows you well and can confirm the seriousness of your intention. If you have been followed for some time by a spiritual director, the best is if to give us his address or a letter from him. However, this is not a strict condition, as not everyone has a spiritual director.

If, after this first stage, a retreat seems desirable, two scenarios are possible:

  • If you just want a first contact, a one-week retreat can be proposed. This would be too short to be admitted into Carthusian life or to make a final decision.
  • If you want to make a discernment retreat (that is, to clarify the question if this is my vocation or not), you should set aside about three weeks (or more in some houses). For these retreats we do not ask anything, but you must pay for your travel expenses to and from the charterhouse. Details will be communicated by the house you have contacted.

The following question often arises: Which charterhouse to choose? Normally the aspirants are directed to a house in their own cultural area, so as to facilitate their insertion. Each community has its own physiognomy, but must elements of the Carthusian life are lived in a similar way in all charterhouses. There are, however, some differences. In some European houses, such as La Valsainte, Marienau or La Grande Chartreuse, the psalmody is in Latin. In others it is sung in the vernacular. At Farneta and Porta Cœli the vernacular is in restricted use. However, all charterhouses of monks follow the same rules and the differences are not pronounced. As there are not many houses, not all languages are spoken, and foreigners are received in all the houses. Since French is the official language of the Order, it is often spoken or known in the charterhouses.

At present there are two English-speaking houses, both with novitiates: St Hugh’s Charterhouse (Parkminster) in UK, and the Transfiguration, in USA.

Discernment retreats for candidates from distant countries

For aspirants from the Commonwealth, it is a little easier to gain access to England. However, England is no longer a member of the European Union, so even Europeans have to go through a special entry procedure. For non-European candidates who wish to live their monastic life in European countries there are special conditions: entry into the European Union is not always easy and depends very much on the country of origin. The same is true for access to the United States. Those coming from distant countries have to make a much deeper discernment beforehand.

Aspirants will have to pay for their own travel to and from the monastery. They should ask the charterhouse with wish they are in touch about the current conditions of entry into the country (which often change), but it is not enough for entering the monastery definitively. In this case, a long-term visa is needed and it will allow you later to obtain a permanent residence permit. You will also need an official document from the monastery certifying your accommodation. The procedures and stages vary from country to country.

The monastery cannot cover the travel expenses of aspirants who wish to make a retreat of discernment but do not have sufficient means. The costs are often high and most of the time it would be useless for only a small number of candidates decide to enter the postulancy. However, in some cases, it may be possible to find a partial solution.

African aspirants, regardless of their country of origin, are first asked to have a monastic experience of at least one year in their own continent. Only after this, and with the permission of the abbot, can a possible temporary experience in a charterhouse be considered.

Conditions can be summarised as follows:

  1. To be able to bear the travel expenses.
  2. To obtain a visa, if requested. This is often a lengthy process.