Portal:Catholicism/Patron Archive/June 6 2007

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Saint Norbert of Xanten (c. 1080–6 June 1134) was a Christian saint and founder of the Norbertines or Premonstratensian order of canons.

Norbert was born at Gennep on the Maas but grew up and was educated in Xanten on the left bank of the Rhine, near Wesel. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was related to the imperial house of Germany and the house of Lorraine. Ordained as subdeacon, Norbert was appointed to a canonry at Xanten. Soon after, he was summoned to the court of Frederick of Cologne and later to that of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, whose almoner he became.

In 1115, Norbert founded the Abbey of Fürstenberg [disambiguation needed], endowed it with a portion of his property and made it over to Cono of Siegburg and his Benedictine successors. He was ordained priest soon afterward and preached in France and Belgium.

At the Council of Reims in October 1119 Pope Calixtus II requested Norbert to found a religious order in the Diocese of Laon. Norbert chose a valley in the Forest of Coucy, about 10 miles from Laon, named Prémontré. Hugh of Fosses, Evermode of Ratzeburg, Antony of Nivelles, seven students of the celebrated school of Anselm, and Ralph of Laon were his first disciples. The young community at first lived in huts of wood and clay, arranged like a camp around the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, but they soon built a larger church and a monastery for the religious who joined them in increasing numbers. Going to Cologne to obtain relics for their church, Norbert is said to have discovered, through a vision, the spot where those of Saint Ursula and her companions, of Saint Gereon, and of other martyrs lay hidden.

Norbert gained adherents in Germany, France, Belgium and Transylvania, and houses of his order were founded in Floreffe, Viviers, St-Josse, Ardenne, Cuissy, Laon, Liège, Antwerp, Varlar, Kappenberg, Grosswardein (Oradea/Nagyvarad) and elsewhere.

Norbert was appointed archbishop of Magdeburg by Pope Honorius II in 1126.

In the schism following the election of Pope Innocent II in 1130, Norbert supported Innocent and resisted Antipope Anacletus II. In Norbert's last years, he was chancellor and adviser to Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor. Saint died in Magdeburg on June 6, 1134.

Attributes: Habit of a Norbertine, monstrance, devil at his feet

Patronage: Bohemia; diocese of Magdeburg, Germany; peace

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