Monday, June 6, 2011

Hail, Saintly Bishop and Confessor

                               St. Norbert (right) receives the Rule from St. Augustine

Today is the feast of St. Norbert of Xanten (circa 1080 AD – 6 June 1134 AD).  From a noble background, Norbert was ordained a sub-deacon and lived a life of pleasure in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor until a narrow escape from death in a horse-riding accident led Norbert to take his religious vows seriously.   Norbert was soon ordained to the priesthood, and began a reform of the canons of Xanten.  Canons are priests living in community according to a rule, usually the Rule of St. Augustine, as it is a simple and flexible rule.   Norbert's efforts at reform were stoutly opposed, as reforms often are, and Norbert found himself denounced by his fellow canons at a church council.   Norbert sold his property, and with the permission of Pope Gelasius II became an itinerant preacher.  In 1119, Pope Calixtus II requested Norbert to found a religious order, and Norbert complied by establishing the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also called the Premonstratensians, or the Norbertines.  The Norbertines wore a religious habit and exhibited the dignity proper to the priesthood.  The Order became popular and spread quickly.  Norbert was appointed Archbishop of Magdeburg by Pope Honorius II in 1126.  Norbert was canonized by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

The following is taken from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St. Norbert, courtesy of Universalis:

 Norbert did all these things with a steadfast faith: “Faith was the outstanding virtue of Norbert’s life, as charity had been the hallmark of Bernard of Clairvaux’s.” Affable and charming, amiable to one and all, “he was at ease in the company of the humble and the great alike.” Finally, he was a most eloquent preacher; after long meditation “he would preach the word of God, and with his fiery eloquence purged vices, refined virtues and filled souls of good will with the warmth of wisdom.” He spent many hours in contemplation of the divine mysteries and fearlessly spread the spiritual insights which were the fruit of his meditation.

No comments:

Post a Comment