SAINT NORBERT (c.1080-1134), missionary, bishop and founder – Patron saint of Bohemia and the Archdiocese of Magdeburg, Germany
Today, the Church honors Saint Norbert, whose life evolved from one of worldly and secular thinking to one of humble and devoted service to the Body of Christ, service guided by his devotion to the Eucharistic Presence of the Risen and Glorified Christ.
Norbert was born into a noble family at Santen, in the duchy of Cleves on the left bank of the Rhine in Germany about the year 1080, and was raised and educated in the royal court of Emperor Henry V. Due to the secular influences of the royal court upon his life, he developed a very worldly view, and was ordained a sub-deacon as a career move.
A narrow escape from death led to a conversion experience, and Norbert began taking his vows seriously. He completed a retreat at the Siegburg Monastery near Cologne, Germany, and resumed his studies for the priesthood.
As a member of the Benedictine Order, he undertook the life of a missionary and accepted the duty of preaching, particularly throughout France and Germany. Gathering together some companions, he laid the foundations of the Praemonstratensian Order, also called the Norbertines, embracing the Rule of Saint Augustine. Papal approval was given and monasteries were established for this new Order.
His founding of the Order, however, was a monumental task – combating rampant heresies, particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing many of the faithful who had grown indifferent and immoral in personal behavior, plus effecting peace and reconciliation amongst enemies.
Norbert entertained no delusions about his own ability to accomplish this multiple task. Even with the aid of a goodly number of men who joined his Order, he realized that nothing could be effectively done without God’s grace. Finding this help, especially in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, he and his Norbertines praised God for success in converting heretics, reconciling numerous enemies and rebuilding faith in indifferent believers.
In 1125, Norbert reluctantly became archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a territory half pagan and half Christian. In this position, he zealously and courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134.
Norbert was canonized a saint in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. His remains are interred in the Church of Mount Sion in Prague.
We commemorate his feastday on June 6.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, ewtn.com/library and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Norbert)
“Father, You made the Bishop Norbert an outstanding minister of Your Church, renowned for his preaching and pastoral zeal. Always grant to Your Church faithful shepherds to lead Your people to eternal salvation.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”