St. Norbert and His Order
Norbert was a pioneer; and his foundation is a happy and successful mixture of the spiritual elements which constitute the perfect priestly and religious life.
The Order of Prémontré represents in medieval and modern society, a form of sacerdotal life which, during many centuries, was deemed the ideal of the clerical profession, the guarantee of its interior sanctity and its exterior reputation. It unites in itself all that stamps the life of the active priest as a worthy imitation and a continuation of the life of Christ’s own disciples, protecting them by the common life, against an ever threatening spirit of worldliness and at the same time raising the sacerdotal labor for the salvation of souls to the highest pitch of intensity, by the law of love and the example of the Savior who sent out his apostles two by two.
The Order of St. Norbert originated in the twelfth century as a masterpiece of unequaled beauty. It arose in an age of transition. As the artistic monuments of the transition period between Roman and Gothic possess certain peculiar charms, a freshness of youth and growth, a variety of motion and development, so also with the Norbertine Order. Though the plan of St. Norbert was not entirely original, still he may truly be called a pioneer, who united in one institute contemplation and action, social asceticism and the priesthood, under the perfect obedience to the supreme Head of the Church.
St. Norbert and his Order is a short work sketching the general history of St. Norbert and some of the saints of the order.
The History of St. Norbert
St. Norbert is perhaps one of the greatest, yet today unknown, saints of the middle ages. Above all he was a great reformer.
Born of nobility, and living in luxury with royal favor, St. Norbert suddenly had a conversion, and embarked to be a new St. Paul, throwing away his rich garments, and preaching to the faithful as a beggar.
Led further, and provided with papal approval, Norbert makes a foundation in the valley of Prémontré, whence his order gets its name. The preaching of St. Norbert and his order restored faith in the Eucharist, badly shaken by heretics, and for this he was long remembered in northern European cities badly affected by heresy such as Antwerp. His life dominated the 12th century where, as a friend of St. Bernard, he worked to reform Church life and to defend the independence of the Papacy.
The great project of St. Norbert was to combine the active and the contemplative life, by establishing canons who lived by the maxims of monastic life, to both work in the world and retire for prayer. In this he anticipates Sts. Francis and Dominic by a century.
Premonstratensian abbeys dotted the landscape of Europe until the revolutions of the 16th-18th centuries.
Fr. Kirkfleet, relying on the best histories and the most accurate primary sources, provides the most complete biography of this great saint in English. This is a genuine history, also written with faith and piety bringing the full history of St. Norbert.