France in the mountains of Bugey, the Charterhouse of Portes dates from the 12th century. It typifies the early Carthusian monasteries which were built to house small communities.
The Chartreuse Les Portes is known as "the eldest
daughter of the Carthusian Order." She received the name "Chartreuse saints" because this charterhouse housed monks
of top merit, some of whom are venerated as saints or blessed. Included among these Carthusian saints associated with the Charterhouse of Portes are Saint Arthuad, Saint Anthelm, Saint Stephen of Chatillon and Blessed Ayrald, all four of whom had been consecrated as bishops.
The Charterhouse was founded in 1115 by Bernard
de Varey and Ponce, monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Ambronay, who wanted to live the same lonely life waged since 1084
as the sons of Saint Bruno in the desert of Chartreuse. In the year 1125 construction of the first monastery built in stone
was started and from 1660 to 1662 a new church was built.
From 1789 to 1799 during the French Revolution, the community was forced to disperse. Though Dom Vallet, rescued
by the love of the crowd, remains alone in his cell until his death in 1799. In 1855 the Carthusian bought back
their charterhouse, whose buildings had been neglected by the various successive owners. The monastery was restored and a
community there resumed regular life until 1901 when they found themselves facing the threat of deportation laws. By 1905
the Charterhouse was once agin no longer in Carthusian hands.
Once again, in 1951 the monastery was purchased by the Carthusian Order. And in 1954 a Carthusian monk, Dom Emmanuel
Cluzet, moved to Chartreuse Les Portes as custodian of the monastery and monitor of the early restoration work.
By 1970 the completion of the rehabilitation of buildings had been performed. And in 1971 a new community settled there whose
core is supplied by the chartreuse near Sélignac. Restpration of the church of the monastery was completed in 2006.
There are twelve cells for the monks of the monastery, and twelve rooms for the brothers. The Chartreuse Les
Portes continues to this day to keep the traditional old houses of the Order. As of December 2006, the community
is composed of 15 monks: 10 monks of the monastery, including 1 novice and a postulant; 5 brothers including two temporary
professed still in training. There are also two familiar laity who share the life of prayer and community.