June 5, 2016

June 6th: Optional Memorial of Saint Norbert

St. Norbert
Saint Norbert was born in Xanten near Cologne about the year 1080. As a young cleric he resided at the court of the Archbishop of Cologne and then at that of the emperor where he allowed himself to be overcome by worldly influences. But he was won back by grace; caught by a storm during a journey on horseback, Norbert made up his mind to take his clerical obligations seriously. After ordination he devoted himself to itinerant preaching.

St. Norbert founded the religious order known as the Praemonstratensians or the Norbertines. His founding of the order was a monumental task: combating rampant heresies (particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament), revitalizing many of the faithful who were indifferent and dissolute, and effecting peace and reconciliation among enemies. Reluctantly, Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany. In this position he courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134.

Click to learn more about the Praemonstratensian Order.

The Life of St. Norbert

Although a cleric, Norbert led a very worldly life for a number of years. The decisive change took place suddenly in 1115. While riding one day, he was overtaken by a thunderstorm. A flash of lightning struck the ground before him, the horse threw him, and he seemed to hear a voice upbraiding him for his conduct.

As in the case of St. Paul, the experience wrought a complete transformation. Norbert decided to give away his property and income rights, and to lead a life of abnegation, devoting himself particularly to preaching. In 1120 he founded the Order of Premonstratensians (the first monastery was at Premontre) according to the rule of St. Augustine; approval came from Pope Honorius II in 1126.

In 1125, he was named archbishop of Magdeburg. On July 13, 1126, Norbert entered the city and came barefoot to the cathedral. About to enter the archepiscopal palace, he was refused admission by the porter, who failed to recognize a bishop so poorly dressed. "You know me better and see me with clearer eyes than those who are forcing me to this palace. Poor and wretched man that I am, I should never have been assigned to this place," Norbert answered when the porter later sought his pardon.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Bohemia, peace.

Collect Prayer

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Norbert a servant of your Church outstanding in his prayer and pastoral zeal, grant, we ask, that by the help of his intercession, the flock of the faithful may always find shepherds after your own heart and be fed in the pastures of salvation. 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.

Prayer in Honor of St. Norbert

O God, Who did make of Blessed Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop, an excellent preacher of the Word, and by his means did enrich Thy Church with new offspring, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his intercession we may put in practice by Thy grace what he taught us, both in word and work.

Awake, O Lord, in Thy Church the Spirit by Whom St. Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop was guided, in order that, filled with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and live as he taught us.

O Lord, grant to us Thy servant’s constancy in Thy faith and service, that, rooted in Divine charity, we may not be conquered by any temptation. Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

Praised be the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Praised be Jesus Christ.  Amen


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