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Grande Chartreuse Monastery: Interior view, monk's refectory
The Order took its name from that of the mountainous site of the mother house at La Grande Chartreuse in the diocese of Grenoble (Isère). The Order has never been reformed; such continuity over more than 900 years is unique. The way of life of the first Carthusians, characterized by total dedication to contemplation through silence, assiduous prayer, poverty, penance and almost continuous occupancy of a solitary cell, impressed contemporaries with its novelty. The Carthusian vision could not have been realized without the conversi to perform such specialist tasks as agriculture and tending flocks, which allowed for the survival of the group under the harshest conditions and protected the monks from all temporal concerns. The conversi, who inhabited a separate building (the Lower House at La Grande Chartreuse) also had individual cells and took the same vows as the monks. The current building complex is a restoration of a version constructed in the late 17th century.