A brief guide to a religious order founded by St. Norbert of Xanten.
Around the same time as the founding of the Cistercians and Carthusians, St. Norbert of Xanten, an itinerant priest, was preaching in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Northern France. He discovered a great decline in the faith of the priests he encountered and felt called to found a religious order that was vigorous and faithful to the Gospel.
While he prayed about what kind of rule his religious order should keep, St. Augustine appeared to him and said, “I am Augustine, Bishop of Hippo; behold here the rule which I have written; if your fellow-brethren, my sons, shall have observed it well, they shall stand without fear in the presence of Christ on the terrible day of the last judgment.” It is further said that he received the white habit of the order directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary in a vision. St. Norbert founded his religious order in Prémontré, France and was a good friend of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who founded the Cistercians. It didn’t take long for the order to zealously spread throughout the world.
Here is a brief guide to the order, detailing the basics of what makes this important religious community unique.
Names & Abbreviations: Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, O.Praem, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, White Canons
Date of Foundation: 1120
Founders: St. Norbert of Xanten
Motto & Charism: According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The five particular ends of the Norbertine Order are: Laus Dei in choro (the singing of the Divine Office); Zelus animarum (zeal for the salvation of souls); Spiritus jugis pœnitentiæ (the spirit of habitual penance); Cultus Eucharisticus (a special devotion to the Holy Eucharist); Cultus Marianus (a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, mostly to her Immaculate Conception).”
Furthermore, the Norbertines describe themselves and their mission this way: “By virtue of our baptismal call and by means of our vowed life as Canons Regular, we serve the needs of the local church through our common ministry to the poor and marginalized, the young and the old. Locally, this ministry — as a community serving local communities — has found expression in our educational apostolates on the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels. Norbertines serve in these institutions as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors, campus ministers, financial officers, and in governance as board members and trustees. We serve in parishes entrusted to the Order, and provide pastoral assistance to pastors of diocesan parishes.”
The Norbertines are an active order (with a contemplative branch of nuns), engaging the world while living a rich community life of prayer.
Famous Norbertines: St. Godfrey, St. Frederick, Bl. Bronislava, Bl. Hugh