900+ Years of St. Norbertine Order

Norbert of Xanten (c. 1075-1134) was a nobleman, courtier, ascetic, legendary peacemaker, and an exemplar of the apostolic way of life; he was a priest of the Catholic Church who founded the Norbertine order in the 12th century. He built the order on the basis of love, selfless sharing and radical hospitality.

St. Norbert was born at Xanten in the Rhineland, about the year 1080. He grew up and was also educated in Xanten, near Wesel, in the Electorate of Cologne. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was a member of the high nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and related to the imperial house and also to the House of Lorraine. His mother was Hedwig of Guise. A brilliant young aristocrat, he enjoyed a successful career serving in the imperial court of Henry V. In 1115 Norbert retired to Xanten, where he underwent a profound conversion.

He became a priest and urged by the vision of St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, he founded the Norbertine Order (also known as the Order of Praemonstratensians) in 1120 at Prémontré, near Laon in France, with the motto, “Prepared for all Good Works”. His founding of the Order was a monumental task: combating rampant heresies – particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing many of the faithful who had grown indifferent and dissolute, plus effecting peace and reconciliation among enemies. Norbert became the Archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a territory half pagan and half Christian. In this position he zealously and courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134.