Saint of the Day: St. Norbert, Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament
St. Norbert was born in the area of Cleves to a noble family around the year 1080. Although he became a cleric, he lived a worldly life for many years. However, he experienced a conversion experience 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 an austere life. He joined the Benedictines of Siegburg and was ordained to the priesthood in 1115. Undertaking the apostolic life, he accepted the duty of preaching, particularly throughout France and Germany. Gathering together some companions, he laid the foundations of the Premonstratensian Order, for which he also founded monasteries.
In 1125, Norbert was named archbishop of Magdeburg. On July 13, 1126, he entered the city and came barefoot to the cathedral. As he prepared 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. Norbert died on June 6, 1134.
Norbert established a clergy dedicated to the ideals of the Gospel and the apostolic Church. They were chaste and poor. They wore the clothing and the symbols of the new man; that is to say, they wore “the religious habit and exhibited the dignity proper to the priesthood.” Norbert asked them “to live according to the norms of the Scriptures with Christ as their model.
Faith was the outstanding virtue of Norbert’s life, as charity had been the hallmark of Bernard of Clairvaux. 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.
Patronage: Bohemia; diocese of Magdeburg, Germany; peace
More Information on the life of St. Norbert here.