ST. NORBERT, BISHOP
FEAST DAY: JUNE 6TH
OF noble rank and rare talents, Norbert passed a most pious
youth, and entered the ecclesiastical state. By a strange
contradiction, his conduct now became a scandal to his
sacred calling, and at the court of the emperor, Henry IV., he led,
like many clerics of that age, a life of dissipation and luxury.
One day, when he was thirty years of age, he was thrown half
dead from his horse, and on recovering his senses, resolved upon
a new life. After a severe and searching preparation, he was
ordained priest, and began to expose the abuses of his Order.
Silenced at first by a local council, he obtained the Pope's sanction
and preached penance to listening crowds in France and the
Netherlands. In the wild vale of Prťmontrť he gave to some trained disciples the
rule of St. Austin, and a white habit to denote the angelic purity proper to the
priesthood. The canons regular, or Premonstratensians, as they were called, were
to unite the active work of the country clergy with the obligations of the
monastic life. Their fervor renewed the spirit of the priesthood, quickened the
faith of the people, and drove out heresy. A vile heretic, named Tankelin,
appeared at Antwerp, in the time of St. Norbert, and denied the reality of the
priesthood, and especially blasphemed he Blessed Eucharist. The Saint was sent
for to drive out the pest.
By his burning words, he exposed the impostor and rekindled the faith in the
Blessed Sacrament. Many of the apostates had proved their contempt for the
Blessed Sacrament by burying it in filthy places. Norbert bade them search for
the Sacred Hosts. They found them entire and uninjured, and the Saint bore them
back in triumph to the tabernacle. Hence he is generally painted with the
monstrance in his hand. In 1126, Norbert found himself appointed Bishop of
Magdeburg; and there, at the risk of his life, he zealously carried on his work
of reform, and died, worn out with toil, at the age of fifty-three.
REFLECTION.óReparation for the injuries offered to the Blessed Sacrament was the aim of St. Norbert's great work of reform -- in himself, in the clergy, and in the faithful. How much does our present worship repair for our own past irreverences, and for the outrages offered by others to the Blessed Eucharist?