Only the eventual aspirants to the Carthusian life can make a retreat inside the monastery, after a preliminary discernment with the Mother Prioress or the Mistress of Novices (see details below).

Spiritual Retreats

The solitary vocation does not allow us to receive in retreat in the monastery those who seek only a spiritual pause. However, there is now the possibility of making a spiritual retreat in the spirit of St. Bruno and within the framework of the Carthusian life.

Saint Bruno’s House (ancient Charterhouse of Selignac)

Some will see in the creation of St. Bruno’s House, managed in partnership by the Carthusian Order and the Diocese of Belley-Ars (France), a sign of Providence, even a special grace from God in the form of a wink from St. Bruno to his lay friends, since the idea of this House, a novelty in Carthusian history, was submitted and adopted by the General Chapter of 2001, the year of the nine centennial of the death of St. Bruno (oct. 6, 1101 – 2001).

This house can receive men and women who wish to live a retreat in a Carthusian cell. The whole rhythm of life in this house is as close as possible to that of life in the monastery. For more details, see the website

Retreats for a carthusian life discernment

There is currently no novitiate in English. Aspirants who wish to have an experience of Carthusian life in order to discern their vocation should go to the houses in France or Italy. We offer however the basic information.

If you want to study the possibility of this vocation, it is advisable to talk to the spiritual father, if you have one. His consent is not obligatory, as you are free, but it is better when it is possible. Then you should write to a house trying to make yourself known enough, giving information about your age, studies, family and possibly professional situation. And above all, say something about your spiritual journey and your orientation towards religious life (how long have you been thinking about it?, have you had contacts with other monasteries?) and towards the Carthusians (how did you meet it?, why are you attracted to it?). You should know that the age limit is 35, unless a justifiable situation arises.

The written opinion of the spiritual father would be desirable, without being a condition.

After this first stage, if a retreat seems convenient, two situations are possible:

  • If you wish to make a simple first contact, the monastery could propose a one-week retreat, but such a short time does not allow you to enter into Carthusian life or to make a decision.
  • If you want a discernment retreat (i.e., aimed at answering the question: is it my vocation or not?), it should be planned for about a month (depending on the houses). We don’t ask anything for these retreats, but you must pay for the return trip yourself. The details will be communicated by the house you have contacted.

But which house to choose? There are currently two houses in French and one in Italian which can receive novices: the Notre-Dame and Nonenque Charterhouses, both in France, and the Trinità Charterhouse in Italy. The climate of the first two is Mediterranean, that of the last one is mountainous. Each community has its own character, but they all follow the same rule and Carthusian life is lived in a similar way. There are, however, some differences: the Nonenque Carthusian Monastery preserves the Latin chant, and is housed in an old Cistercian monastery, founded by Sylvanès in 1147, which was restored and adapted to Carthusian life in 1927. In the Notre-Dame and Trinità Carthusian monasteries there are more vernacular liturgies, including the psalms, and both houses are new, built according to the typical Carthusian layout with cells separated by a garden. French, being the official language of the Order, is frequently spoken in all the houses of nuns.

Discernment retreats for candidates from distant countries

Usually the candidates are directed to a house in their own cultural area, to facilitate the adaptation. But as there are no monasteries of nuns in all the major languages, existing houses can receive girls who do not speak their language, who will have to learn the language of the country.

For candidates coming from distant countries (outside Europe), some particular conditions must be taken into account.

Those who are able to pay for their return trip can contact us under the same conditions as those who come from their own country, with the difference for those who come from a European country and those who live outside Europe, for whom it is necessary to obtain a visa, which can present some complications depending on the country of origin.

For those who cannot afford to pay for their trip, a much finer discernment will have to be made. Normally it is not possible for the monastery to assume the price of the trip for a retreat, because of the high cost involved, but also because most often it would be useless; in fact, only a few candidates after having made the retreat decide to enter the postulate. But eventually a solution could be found if the case merits it.

  1. Assumption of travel expenses.
  2. Obtaining the visa: it is a diligence that can be long. You should not come with a tourist visa, which would not allow you to obtain a long-stay visa afterwards. A long-stay visa is necessary, and for this it is necessary that the candidate has a passport that is still valid for a long time and a certificate of assumption of responsibility must be issued by the monastery.