Today, June 6, we celebrate the feast of *Saint Norbert of Xanten* (1080-1134), a worldly noble converted much like Saint Paul, changed by God’s grace into a powerful preacher and an important reformer of the Church during the early 12th century and Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament.
Norbert as a young man he showed a high degree of intelligence and sophistication – which marked him out as a contender for offices within the Church, the state, or both.
Norbert was ordained as a sub-deacon before moving on to an appointment with the powerful Archbishop of Cologne. Later, he succeeded in becoming a chaplain and counsellor to Henry V. He, like most of the court, was governed by the principles of pleasure, and thought little of the implications of his lifestyle on his soul.
The decisive change took place suddenly 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. From that moment on, Norbert converted his life, and bore witness to those around him of the power of the Lord. He returned home, and committed himself to studying for the priesthood, a vocation he had previously avoided.
He spent his days in prayer, fasting, and mortification—reparation for his lifetime of sinfulness. Labeled a hypocrite by many, Norbert gave away all of his worldly possessions to the poor, and for the remainder of his life, strove to own nothing. Pope commissioned Norbert, to preach throughout Europe.
His model and life attracted many followers, and following a gift of land, Norbert began a small monastic community. This Augustinian community, eventually known as Norbertines brough orthodoxy and reform in the Church.
Also wholly devoted to the Holy Eucharist, Saint Norbert tirelessly defended the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1125, he was named archbishop of Magdeburg. Upon Saint Norbert’s death in 1134, his remains were interred at Madgebourg, but many centuries later, moved to a Norbertine abbey of Stahov in Prague. At that time, his body was found to be incorrupt. Pope Gregory XII canonized him on July 28, 1626.
*Saint Norbert, pray for us.*
O God, who made the Bishop Saint Norbert a servant of your Church outstanding in his prayer and pastoral zeal, grant, we ask, that by the help of his intercession, the flock of the faithful may always find shepherds after your own heart and be fed in the pastures of salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen