Saint Norbert, bishop and Confessor
Norbert was born in the year 1080, at Xanten, in the Duchy of Cleves, of parents of the highest rank. He was thoroughly educated in his youth in worldly knowledge, and as a member of the imperial court, became a worldly young man, much given to the pleasures of life. But one day he was thrown from his horse, and lay for a long time insensible. Whereupon, when he came to his senses, and realized the uncertainty of life, he enlisted as a soldier of the Church. Being ordained priest, he made the preaching of the Word of God the one object of his life. He had the right to rich revenues of the Church, but these he renounced ; and the ample fortune which he had from his father he gave to the poor. He fasted often, and ever lived a life of singular hardness, whence came that mighty power of his words and deeds, whereby he was able to turn countless hereticks to the true Faith, sinners to repentance, and enemies to peace and brotherly love. * Being one-while in France, the Bishop of Laon besought him not to leave his diocese, and he therefore made choice of a wilderness at a place called Premontre, whither he withdrew himself with thirteen disciples, and thus founded the Order of the Promonstratensian Canons. When, however, the fame of his holy life became every day more and more noised abroad, and great numbers sought to become his disciples, the Institute was wonderfully extended. To these Norbertine Canons, form the teaching of blessed Norbert, the Church is indebted much for that devotion to the Reserved Sacrament which began in the north of Europe and spread south, even to Italy. Being called Antwerp, he gave the death-blow to the shameful heresy which had there grown up, which same denied the need of either the sacraments or the priesthood. * He was thereafter created (albeit he would rather not have had it so) Archbishop of Magdeburg, and as such was a strong upholder of the discipline of the Church, specially contending against the concubinage of the clergy. After the death of Honorius II an unhappy schism divided the Church, whereupon he was a great help to Innocent II, for whom he got recognition as the lawful Bishop of Rome throughout much of Europe. It was at last at Magdeburg that this mighty man of God, full of good works and of the Holy Ghost, fell asleep in the Lord, on June 6th, in 1134, in the fifty-third year of his life, and the eighth year of his episcopate.
Collect:O God, who didst appoint Saint Norbert, thy Confessor and Bishop, to be an excellent preacher of thy holy word, and through him hast enriched thy Church with a new offspring : grant, we beseech thee ; that, by the intercession of his merits, we may of thee be enabled to perform those things which he taught both in word and in deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.