St. Norbert was born at Xanten in the Rhineland, about 1080. The early part of his life was devoted to the world and its pleasures. He even entered upon the ecclesiastical state in a worldly spirit. He was ordained subdeacon, but fear of greater restraint prevented him from receiving higher orders.
An accident became the occasion of a wonderful change of heart. A stroke of lightning frightened Norbert’s horse, whereupon he was thrown to the ground and knocked senseless; on regaining consciousness, he became a sincere penitent. He left the court and withdrew to Xanten, where he began to lead a retired and penitential life.
A retreat the Saint made in the monastery of St. Sigebert, near Cologne, completed his conversion, and he spent two years preparing himself for the priesthood, which he received at Cologne. Soon after, he resigned his ecclesiastical benefices, sold his property and gave the proceeds to the poor, and traveled to Languedoc, where Pope Gelasius II was at that time.
Norbert went from place to place, preaching penance. Finally, he settled at Premontre, where he established the Order of Premonstratensians, which became very numerous even during the life of the holy founder. He was forced to accept the dignity of Archbishop of Magdeburg, about the year 1125, but in this exalted station he practiced the same austerity that had been familiar to him in the cloister.
Norbert’s zeal effected a great reformation in his diocese, though, like other Saints, he had enemies in those to whom his life was a reproach. Together with St. Bernard he labored much to extinguish the disorders caused by the schism of the anti-Pope, Anacletus. Upon his return from a journey to Rome with Emperor Lothaire, he fell ill, and, after four months of sickness, died June 6, 1134. He was canonized in 1582 by Pope Gregory XII.
PRAYER: God, You made Your Bishop St. Norbert an outstanding minister of Your Church by his prayer and pastoral zeal. Trough his prayers grant that Your faithful flock may always find pastors after Your heart and salutary pastures. Amen.