St. Anthelm, rightfully regarded as the greatest ecclesiastic of his age, was born about 1107 in Savoy of a noble family, who educated him for the Church. After ordination he was made provost and secretary of the province of Geneva and increased the earning of his diocese by astute management. Up to that time, he was a high-minded young priest, hospitable and generous, but, as his background might suggest, primarily interested in the things of the world.
However, Anthelm’s outlook changed drastically as a result of a change visit to the Carthusian monastery at Portes. So at the age of thirty he resigned his ecclesiastical benefice, left the world, and donned the habit of St. Bruno. Two years later (1139), he became Prior of the motherhouse of his Order, the Grande Charteuse, which soon began to flourish under his direction. He increased the number and the fervor of those in the community, repaired its buildings, and brought the other monasteries into relation with it. In the process he also became the first Master General of the Order.
In 1152, Anthelm retired Portes, looking forward to a life of solitude. But God had other plans for him. He was appointed Prior of Portes and succeeded in reforming that monastery as well. Two years later je returned to the Grande Charteuse bit still was denied solitude. In 1159, a schism occurred in the Church between the supporters of the canonically elected Pope, Alexander III, and a rival put forward by the powerful Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. St. Anthelm supported the true Pope by a strong and vociferous campaign that resulted in the Pope’s triumph and in the appointment of Anthelm as Bishop of Belley.
Prevailed upon to accept the Episcopacy, St. Anthelm applied himself to it in characteristic fashion, showing himself to be a brilliant administrator, dedicated reformer, and fearless battler for truth. He did not even hesitate to reprove the Pope when in 1175 the latter lifted the excommunication that the Saint had imposed on Count Hubert of Marienne for glaring misdeeds. Shortly afterward, the Pope commissioned. St. Anthelm to go to England and try to reconcile king Henry II and St. Thomas Becket; but he was prevented from going by his death, which took place on June 26, 1177.
PRAYER: God, You made Your Bishop St. Anthelm an outstanding minister of Your Church by his prayer and pastoral zeal. Through his prayers grant that Your faithful flock may always find pastors after Your heart and salutary pastures. Amen.