The Charterhouse of La Valsainte, perched above the village of Cerniat, can look back on a history spanning more than 700 years. It is home to the Carthusian order, founded in the 11th century by Saint Bruno in the Chartreuse mountains of France. It was built between 1294 and 1295 by Girard de Corbières, the Lord of Charmey, in the heart of the Javro valley.
Carthusian are a contemplative order of monks whose lives are one of ‘blessed solitude’, austere simplicity and humility, as reflected in their motto “Beata solitudo, sola beatitudo” (happy solitude, sole happiness). In 1976 this community of hermits closed the doors of their monastery to the outside world, for good.
Given the important role that the Carthusian community has played, and still plays, in shaping the identity of the Javro and Jaun valleys, great thought was given to how to continue to provide the public with access to this holy order following the closure of the Charterhouse.
The La Valsainte room is designed to give visitors a glimpse into the daily life of a Carthusian monk. The focal point of the exhibition is a monk’s cell which was once part of the monastery. The lay brothers, monks and priors of La Valsainte were closely involved in the restoration work prior to it going on public view. The monastery also generously provided the fixtures and fittings. These clearly show how confined and spartan the monks’ living space actually is. Photographs by Claude Gluntz also offer a further glimpse into the living conditions and daily practices of this ascetic monastic order.