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  • History of the Order
    of Prémontré and were affiliated to and incorporated with the order We have already mentioned the names of abbeys founded in France Belgium and Germany but colonies of the sons of St Norbert were sent to nearly every country of Europe and even to Asia In 1130 King Stephen gave them his castle on the River Keres and thus was founded the Abbey of St Stephen the first of numerous monasteries in Hungary Almaric who had shared in St Norbert s apostolate a famous preacher in aid of the Crusades was requested by Innocent II to preach in Palestine At the head of a chosen band of Norbertines he set out in 1136 for the Holy Land where he was hospitably received by Fulco of Anjou King of Jerusalem and by William Patriarch of the Holy City In the following year Almaric founded the Abbey of St Abacuc Henry Zdik Bishop of Olmütz made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem He visited St Abacuc and was so much touched by what he saw that he asked to be received into the order Having obtained some religious he returned to Bohemia and founded the Abbey of Mount Sion at Strahov Prague This abbey flourished so much that it was called the seminary of bishops having given eight bishops to Prague ten to Olmütz and some to other dioceses a patriarch John of Luxemburg to Aquileia and a cardinal John of Prague to the Church In 1141 the Abbey of St Samuel near Jerusalem was founded and in 1145 another at Bethlehem The abbeys were destroyed in 1187 when many of the religious were put to the sword or perished in the fire Those who escaped founded a new community at Acre but in 1291 this place the last stronghold of the Christians in the Holy Land was taken by the Sultan Saraf who cut to pieces the abbot Egide de Marle and put the religious twenty six in number to death In 1147 Abbot Walter of Laon led a colony to Portugal and founded the Abbey of St Vincent near Lisbon Two young Spanish noblemen Sanchez de Assures and Dominic while travelling in France had heard of St Norbert They went to Prémontré and were admitted to the order by St Norbert Ordained priests they were sent to preach in Spain and having obtained a few religious from La Case Dieu an abbey in Gascony they founded in 1143 the Abbey of Retorta the first in Spain In 1149 the mother house sent some of its religious to found the Abbey of St Samuel at Barletta in Apulia Italy At the same time sons of St Norbert went forth from one abbey or another to found new houses in Great Britain and Ireland Poland Denmark Norway and even Riga on the Baltic Sea In addition sixteen cathedral chapters were composed of Norbertine canons under a bishop elected by them One of these was Candida Casa or Whithorn in Scotland It is impossible to give the exact number of abbeys priories and convents of nuns so much do the various lists differ from one another Perhaps the oldest list known is that which was made for the general chapter of 1320 and given by Le Paige The most complete has been compiled by Hugo the annalist of the order Some authors say that there were 1300 abbeys and 500 convents of nuns without counting the smaller residences but these figures seem to be much exaggerated However whatever these lists may mean they show the prodigious fecundity of the order during the first two centuries of its existence The highest authority of the order is centred in the general chapter The abbot general presides over it but he owes obedience to it The abbot general has the power to make the canonical visitation of any abbey The abbots are elected for life in a manner prescribed by the Constitutions The abbot names his prior and other officials of his abbey In certain matters he has to obtain the consent of the majores de domo The abbeys are divided into circaries provinces named after the language groups in which they are situated Each circary had a visitor and the most important had also a vicar general named by the abbot general Hugo in his Annales gives the names of each abbey and convent and of the circary to which they belonged The four large volumes of the Annales give a description and an historical notice of each abbey and hence they supply very important information to the student of the history of the order Hugo had also prepared and nearly completed when he died in 1739 two more volumes the first of which was to treat of learned persons of the order and of the books they had written the second was to give the lives of sons and daughters of St Norbert who had been canonized or beatified or who were deemed to have had the note of sanctity The Rev Leo Goovaerts of the Norbertine Abbey of Averbode Belgium has since published a Dictionnaire bio bibliographique in which he gives the names of over three thousand authors a notice of their lives and a description of the books they had written George Lienhardt Abbot of Roggensburg gives in his Hagiologia the names of hundreds of persons whose holiness of life constitutes the brightest ornament of the Order of St Norbert The spiritual fervour so remarkable and edifying in the first two centuries had gradually been growing cold A number of religious communities were no longer animated by the spirit of St Norbert With the gradual disappearance of manual labour intellectual activity and certain observances spiritual progress was retarded and even a kind of spiritual stagnation set in to the great detriment of these communities Affluence was another cause of this weakness The first religious had cleared part of the forests and by making the land more productive had created more resources while the charity

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  • Rule & Constitutions
    Holy Father Augustine 1586 years since the death of Our Holy Father Augustine 936 years since the birth of Our Holy Father Norbert 923 years since the birth of Blessed Hugh Continue reading Premonstratensians and gingerbread As the holy feast approaches some of the most beautiful passages from the old testament are uttered in the sanctuary during the Mass Yesterday we heard the famous sentences from the Song of Songs where the Bride sings to her Bridegroom Continue reading Rorate Mass I m often asked What is your Order s charism It stumps me a little because we are much too old to have been founded with a particular charism in mind much like the Rosary the second question I m asked is why don t Continue reading Rule Constitutions The Canons Regular of Prémontré follow the Rule of St Augustine and as such are members of the wider Augustinian family of canons friars and hermits At the beginning of communal life at Prémontré there was some debate as to the form and rule of life that was to be followed by the disciples of St Norbert St Augustine Bishop of Hippo appeared to Norbert and gave him his rule saying 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 In addition to the Rule the Constitutions of the Order are also a guide of our life You Are My Order You are my Order Just as bishops have their canons delegated to offer public prayer in their diocese in the same way you are my canons not just for one diocese but for the universal

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  • Liturgy
    particular charism in mind much like the Rosary the second question I m asked is why don t Continue reading Liturgy The Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are at the hearts of the lives of Canons Regular As Norbertines Eucharistic and Marian devotions are also an essential part of our life and spirituality To this end we honour our Blessed Mother at the end of each canonical Office with an antiphon in her honour Eucharistic Adoration is also a large part of our life Our Holy Father Norbert also bequeathed to us his sons a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception As with many of the ancient Orders in the Church the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré has its own rite The Premonstratensian Rite is still used in our Canonry alongside the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite The Premonstratensian Rite has its own missal breviary calendar and a particularly beautiful form of chant A detailed explanation of the Premonstratensian Rite The Mass of the Premonstratensian Order by Dr Lenztze O Praem translated by Fr Resch O Praem can be viewed by clicking here Requires Adobe Reader file size 3 5 MB The habit of our Order consists of a white tunic white scapular white cappa with hood and the white biretta In summer the choir dress has the addition of an almutium worn on the left arm together with a rochet at certain offices The almutium is a piece of fur and a vestment proper to canons In some congregations and communities this is worn on the head or around the neck In winter a white cape in used in choir The life of Our Holy Father Norbert relates that the Blessed Mother herself appeared to St Norbert and gave him the

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  • Saints and Beati of the Order
    of St Elizabeth of Hungary Promised to God by her parents she was brought to Altenberg at the age of one in 1228 Joined the community there and became abbess Built the abbey Renowned for her penance and service to the poor she was a great propagator of the feast of Corpus Christi Saint Gilbert with Blessed Pontia and Blessed Petronilla GILBERT Saint A crusader knight Distributed his personal wealth to the poor and needy and thence financed the construction of an abbey for Norbertine nuns His wife Petronilla and his daughter Pontia both entered this abbey and Gilbert himself entered the Order at our abbey of Dilo He later built the abbey of Neuffontaines in 1150 and became its first abbot GODESCAIC Blessed Abbot of Mont St Martin made bishop of Arras GODFREY Blessed Canon of Magdeburg first prior of Arnstein GODFREY Blessed Disciple of St Norbert and Canon of Prémontré Blessed Hugh appointed him abbot of Valsecret in 1129 Through his sanctity and good works he merited eternal life GODFREY Blessed Nineteenth abbot of Steinfeld Martyr GODFREY Saint From Cappenburg in Westphalia Deeply moved by the preaching of St Norbert he and his brother established the abbey at Cappenburg His wife entered a community of canonesses and he and his brother went to Prémontré in 1125 Followed St Norbert to Magdeburg but retired through ill health dying on January 13th 1127 GRIMO Blessed Second Prior of Ursberg GUARIN Blessed Prior of St Martin at Laon latterly first abbot of Vicogne and thence second abbot of St Martin at Laon GUDA Blessed Wife of Count Ludwig of Arstein foundress and first prioress of the convent at Arnstein GUIDO Blessed A Briton from a noble family Founder of the monastery of Vicogne where he became a canon GUIDO Blessed Count of Branens Became a lay brother at Prémontré HADWIG Blessed Devoted to her mother who consented to her entering the convent of Meer Known for piety and sanctity HAITONUS Blessed Descendent of the royal family of Armenia Canon on Cyprus HAYTO OR MACARIUS Blessed From Armenia canon of Bellapais Cyprus HELINUS Blessed Seventh abbot of Floreffe then abbot of Saint Habbakuk in Palestine HENRY ZOLICK Blessed Founder and first prior of Strahov bishop of Olomuc HENRY Blessed Born in Rheims Canon of Prémontré and disciple of St Norbert made first abbot of the Canons of Valsery in 1124 He led a heavenly and holy life HENRY Blessed Count of Arnburg and founder of Arnsberg Wedinghausen where he lived as a lay brother Saint Hermann Joseph HERMANN JOSEPH Saint Canon of Steinfeld Renowned for his tender devotion to the Blessed virgin in whose honour he composed prayers and hymns Graced by ecstatic visions in which he was mystically espoused to Mary He went to his heavenly reward on 7th April 1241 HERMANN THE JEW Blessed Convert to Christianity from Judaism Canon of Cappenburg made first Prior of Scheda HERMANN Blessed Fourth abbot of Floreffe HERMANN Blessed Son of Blessed Hildegund Fourth Prior of Cappenburg HESCELINUS Blessed Subprior of Ninove HILDEGUNDE Blessed Countess founded Meer in 1165 and became its first prioress HROZNATA Blessed Born in 1170 to a noble family of Bohemia After the death of his wife and child he founded the abbey of Tepl and the convent at Chotieschow Received the white habit at the hands of Innocent III Entered Tepl as a lay brother Starved to death by the enemies of the Church HUGH OF FOSSE Blessed First disciple of St Norbert Born at Fosse Belgium In 1119 he met and began to follow St Norbert first on the preaching missions in Hainault and Brabant Succeeded St Norbert as Abbot General of the Order in 1129 Known for his zeal for souls and glorious sanctity he died on 10th February 1164 ISFRID Saint Provost of Jerichow and successor of Saint Evermode as second bishop of Ratzeburg Known in life and in death for his miraculous healings IVO Blessed From Soissons Attracted by St Norbert s sanctity and piety he with his pious wife Heluide their two sons and a daughter became a Premonstratensian in 1124 with the approval of Lisiardo bishop of Soissons A lay brother known for his patience humility and a crown of other virtues he went to his heavenly reward in 1136 JAMES KERN Blessed Canon and priest of Geras Austria He had been training at a diocesan seminary at the outbreak of the First World War when he was drafted into the Army during his time of active service he was badly wounded and his afflictions would cause his continuing physical pain throughout his life Despite these sufferings James returned to the seminary at the end of the War and proceeded with his studies At the same time a Norbertine canon Bogumil Zahradnik had become a leader of the schismatical Czech National Church James was moved to offer himself to the Norbertine Order in atonement for the sins of this priest and he was duly accepted as a novice at Geras Ordained priest in 1922 James continued to bear his pains with great courage and determination all without a word of complaint He entered into his priestly ministry with great enthusiasm especially in hearing his confession and his work with young people After many struggles physical and spiritual James went to his eternal reward on October 20th 1924 He was beatified by John Paul II on June 21st 1998 JAMES Blessed Canon and twenty first abbot of Steinfeld JAMES Blessed Novice of the canonry of Ninove JEAN D AUELOIS Blessed Fifth abbot of Floreffe JOHN II Blessed Abbot of Prémontré JOHN OF ORGANIA Blessed Canon and Abbot of Bellpuig JOHN Blessed Abbot of the Royal Canonry of Strahov thence archbishop of Prague JOHN Blessed Made superior of the monastery at Wurzburg by St Norbert in 1126 Admired for his holy life and propagation of the Premonstratensian life of which he was an ardent disciple JULIANA Saint Nun of the convent attached to the abbey

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  • Calendar of Saints
    helped found the Order at Prémontré where he became the first abbot As abbot Hugh never signed his name with abbot but only as servant of God and Norbert a sign of his great humility As abbot general of the Order Hugh convoked the General Chapters and made important early reforms such as the separation of the monasteries of canons and canonesses It was also he who codified the Premonstratensian liturgical practises He died in 1164 17th February St Evermode Evermode was born in Belgium around the beginning of the twelfth century Practically nothing is known of his youth When Evermode was about twenty years old St Norbert came to the city of Cambray to preach at the invitation of Bishop Burchard Evermode happened to hear Norbert speak and was moved immediately to join him Norbert took him back to the newly founded community in Prémontré where Evermode became one of his first disciples From this day forward Evermode accompanied Norbert on all of his journeys soon becoming the closest friend and beloved disciple of the wandering preacher Evermode was by Norbert s side at all of the key moments of his life as founder and archbishop On June 6 1134 he was present at the bedside of Norbert as he imparted his farewell blessing and died Evermode was stricken keenly by the death of Norbert In the years that followed he held several positions of leadership From 1134 to 1138 he was the provost of the Abbey of Gottesgnaden in Saxony and from 1138 to 1154 provost of St Mary s in Magdeburg In the year 1154 Evermode was appointed the first bishop of the newly founded diocese of Ratzeburg A cathedral chapter of thirteen Norbertines surrounded Evermode with the community life he had come to cherish As bishop he was known above all else for his apostolic zeal for the conversion of the pagan peoples of the north most notably the Wends As such the Premonstratensians are the only religious order to have converted an entire nation He is often referred to as the Apostle of the Wends and was successful in both Christianizing and civilizing them where many had failed before Evermode was also famed for his keen sense of justice When the powerful Count Henry of Ratzeburg continued to mistreat some prisoners despite Evermode s pleading to treat them fairly he responded with a miracle When the prisoners were admitted to the cathedral for the Mass of Easter as was the custom Evermode sprinkled the newly blessed Easter water on their chains and the chains broke setting the prisoners free Evermode died as bishop of Ratzeburg on February 17 1178 He is pictured with the regalia of a bishop wiping away the tears of grief which he shed over the death of his beloved friend St Norbert 26th April St Ludolph Nothing is known of the early years of Ludolph He joined the Norbertine Cathedral Chapter of Ratzeburg where he was treasurer before being elected eighth bishop of Ratzeburg in 1236 He was renowned for his exemplary religious life and powerful preaching of the word of God He also founded a community of Norbertine sisters at Rehna But Ludolph is perhaps best remembered for his fearless defence of the rights and goods of the church against the greedy Duke Albert of Saxony One of the duke s plans was to raze the cathedral complex situated near his castle and transform the place into a garden Ludolph strenuously opposed the plan While on an official journey and accompanied by only a small body guard he was seized by Duke Albert s men shackled spat upon and handled roughly At one point he was bound by his feet and hands in the open forest and left a prey to merciless swarms of mosquitoes He was then thrown in prison and eventually freed Ludolph bore all of his sufferings with patient resolve Fearing to return to Ratzeburg where Duke Albert had gained the upper hand Ludolph took refuge with Prince John of Mecklenburg at Wismar It was during this exile that Ludolph weighed down by the infirmities suffered in prison and by his advancing old age fell gravely ill He celebrated his last Mass on Holy Thursday His final words were O great and good God allow me your useless servant to belong to you for all eternity He died on March 29 1250 His body was returned to Ratzeburg for burial As the procession passed through Schlagsdorf the bells of the city were said to ring of their own accord At the command of the Duke Ludolph s body was carried from the bridge to the cathedral by the nobility of Ratzeburg Ludolph s confreres carried him into the cathedral himself where he found his final resting place Ludolph is honoured as a bishop and a martyr for the rights and freedom of the church He is portrayed with the regalia of a bishop bearing the shackles that bound him in prison and holding the palm of martyrdom 24th May St Hermann Joseph Born at Cologne about 1150 died at Hoven 7 April 1241 According to the biography by Razo Bonvisinus contemporary prior of Steinfeld Acta SS 7 April I 679 Hermann was the son of poor parents who had once been rich At the age of seven he attended school and very early he began the tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin for which he was known during his entire life At every available moment he could be found at the church of St Mary on the Capitol where he would kneel wrapt in prayer and child like appeal to Mary One day he is said to have presented an apple saved from his own scanty repast to the Child Who accepted it According to still another legend on another occasion when on a bitter cold day he made his appearance with bare feet Mary procured him the means of getting shoes At the age of twelve he entered the monastery of the Norbertine or Premonstratensian Canons at Steinfeld in the present Rhenish Prussia made his studies in the Netherlands and on his return was entrusted with the service of the refectory and later of the sacristy After he had been ordained priest it was remarkable with what reverence and devotion he offered the Holy Sacrifice He was known for his gentle demeanour and affability his humility his extraordinary mortifications but above all for his affection for the Mother of God before whose altar he remained for hours in pious intercourse and ecstatic visions and in whose honour he composed wonderful prayers and hymns Mary in turn showed him her predilection called him her chaplain and her spouse and confirmed his surname Joseph given to him by his brothers in religion Hermann was sometimes sent out to perform pastoral duties and was in frequent demand for the making and repairing of clocks He had under his charge the spiritual welfare of the Cistercian nuns at Hoven near Zulpich Here he died and was buried in the cloister His body was later transferred to Steinfeld where his marble tomb and large picture may be seen to the present day portions of his relics are at Cologne and at Antwerp He is represented in art as kneeling before a statue of the Virgin and Child and offering an apple 15th June St Isfrid Nothing is known of the early years of Isfrid In the year 1159 he was elected provost of the Abbey of Jerichow in the Archdiocese of Magdeburg In the year 1180 he became the first successor of St Evermode as bishop of Ratzeburg The medieval chronicler describes him as sanctus sancti successor a saint succeeding a saint He was known for his organizational skills and worked tirelessly for the German colonization of the land of the Wends Isfrid was the confessor and friend of Duke Henry of Saxony Henry was a devout layman who supported Isfrid enthusiastically in his project of continuing the missionizing of the Wends begun by Evermode But Emperor Frederick Barbarossa unjustly deprived Duke Henry of his possessions giving them to Bernard of Anhalt Bernard persecuted all who disapproved of the emperor s policy against the pope or who sympathized with Duke Henry Isfrid bore these persecutions with dignity and patience until Henry was at last reconciled with the emperor and recovered his duchy In the ancient annals of Stederburg Isfrid is called a man excelling in Christian wisdom humility and fortitude In 1195 the canons of the chapter of Schwerin composed of both Saxons and Wends could not agree on the election of a bishop Isfrid was asked by the pope to arbitrate and the choice feel to Brunward one of the first Wends to receive episcopal ordination Isfrid was a man of great austerity Once on Good Friday while fasting on bread and water the water which he drew from an ordinary source was miraculously changed into wine Isfrid lifted his eyes to heaven and said When your will O wonderful Creator transforms the things you have created I cede to your command Behold on the day of the passion of your Son I will take that which you give Many miracles are associated with the life of Isfrid One day as he and his canons were processing around the church a blind man approached isfrid seeking to be cured Isfrid had pity on him and spoke the words of Psalm 145 The Lord enlightens the blind At these words the man recovered his sight Isfrid died on June 15 1204 and was buried in the Cathedral of Ratzeburg He is pictured with the regalia of a bishop with the cup of water turned to wine and with the blind man whom he cured 9th July SS Adrian and James Adrian Jansen and James LaCoupe were both Norbertine canons from the Dutch Abbey of Middleburg Adrian was born in 1529 at Hilvarenbeck whence the Latinized surname Becan which is sometimes used to avoid confusion with other Jansens Around Eastertime 1572 he was appointed pastor at Munster a village on the North Sea Here as in former parish assignments he distinguished himself for his pastoral zeal Tensions with the Calvinists were very pronounced at Munster but Adrian was not intimidated He went about openly in his white habit preaching and proclaiming the good news The associate pastor at Munster during this period was the young Father James LaCoupe James was born in Audenarde Belgium in 1542 and made his solemn profession in the Abbey of Middleburg in 1561 He was well liked by the brethren of the abbey for his friendly and open personality But led astray by the writings of the Protestant reformers James left the abbey to embrace the doctrins of the Reformation He went so far as to write a scathing tract against the Catholic Church Largely through the tearful entreaties and prayers of his father James was eventually moved to seek re admittance into the Catholic Church and the Order He was sent to the Abbey of Marienhof where he submitted himself to an extended period of penance and wrote tracts in defence of the Catholic faith In 1567 he was appointed associate pastor at Munster Frs Adrian and James found themselves at Munster during the height of Protestant animosity As the summer of 1572 arrived the nearby villages of Dordrecht and Gorcum were captured by Calvinist pirates and a dozen religious were being held in Gorcum with little hope of release The parish priests of Munster were warned not to leave their rectory In July there was an urgent call for help at the rectory door Fooled into believing he was to administer the last sacraments to a dying man Adrian opened the bolted door and was captured along with James The two were dragged to a prison cell at Brielle where they joined nineteen priests and religious awaiting their fate After repeated offers to renounce their Catholic faith the priests and religious were finally led to an abandoned monastery near Gorcum on July 9 Two religious renounced their faith at the last minute and were spared The others including Fathers Adrian and James were hung from the rafters and then horribly mutilated Adrian and James are pictured with the hangman s rope around their necks and the palm of martyrdom in their hands Adrian holds the papal crown and keys symbolizing his defence of the Roman Pontiff James holds the chalice symbolizing his defence of the doctrine of the Eucharist 14th July Bl Hroznata Hroznata was born of noble parents in Bohemia around 1170 His mother consecrated him to the care of the Blessed Virgin from his birth Although he appeared to be a still born child his mother s trust in the Virgin Mary s intercession brought Hroznata both life and good health Twice as a young boy he came close to death once when the heavy wheels of a carriage passed over him and again when he fell into a river But Hroznata grew into a distinguished young man and married a young lady from a noble family After the premature death of his wife and child he felt alone and abandoned But turning his vision to the spiritual he resolved to place his earthly riches at the disposal of the Church In 1193 he gave his lands and possessions to the Norbertine Order for the foundation of the Abbey of Tepl He made a promise to God to take part in the Crusade of 1197 and left with the Crusaders for the Holy Land Several obstacles especially in the transporting of the Crusaders by sea led to the abandonment of the Crusade Hroznata returned home via Rome where he was released from his promise by Pope Celestin III who encouraged him instead to found a community of Norbertine sisters at Chotieschow In the meantime Hroznata felt a growing desire to enter the Order himself To that end he sought advice from the pope and received the white habit of the Order from Innocent III in 1202 Many trials awaited Hroznata Upon returning to Tepl as a laybrother he was appointed overseer of the abbey s immense lands and became embroiled in various disputes involving property rights and ownership of land With the power invested in him by his abbot Hroznata fought strenuously against greedy nobles who tried in every way to gain control of the patrimony of Tepl With courage and strength he openly opposed these men thereby making many enemies One day while travelling from Tepl to Lichtenstadt Hroznata was seized by a band of hostile knights and imprisoned on Mt Kinsberg There he suffered a slow and agonizing death by starvation He died on July 14 1217 His cult as a martyr was officially confirmed by the Holy See in 1897 Hroznata is pictured with the crown of nobility which he renounced for the sake of Christ s kingdom and with the palm of martyrdom holding a church which recalls his foundation of the Abbey of Tepl 13th August Bl Gertrude Born on September 29 1227 the youngest of three children of St Elizabeth of Hungary At about the age of one she was brought to the Norbertine sisters of Altenberg perhaps her saintly mother foresaw her own imminent death and knew that the sisters would be good mothers to her orphaned child When the Elizabeth did just a few years later in 1231 at Marburg she is said to have appeared in Gertrude s room at Altenberg radiant and smiling When Gertrude was old enough she joined the community for life So extraordinary were her gifts and virtues that she was chosen Abbesses of the convent at age 21 Under her guidance and direction many women among the nobility left the world to join the flourishing community at Altenberg Gertrude built the abbey church in honour of the Blessed Virgin and St Michael Once when she had scrubbed and washed a veil the rays of the sun were said to hold it aloft until it was dry thereby showing heaven s approval of her devotion to the lowliest tasks Gertrude had a special gift for reconciling enemies When Pope Urban IV called for a new Crusade Gertrude received his permission for her sisters to bear the Crusader s cross and join in the Crusade through prayers and works of penance When the same pope introduced the solemnity of Corpus Christi Gertrude was among the first and most ardent promoters of the feast which beginning in 1270 was celebrated at Altenberg with the highest possible solemnity After 49 years as abbess of Altenberg Gertrude died at the age of seventy on August 13 1297 She is portrayed with the crown of nobility the pectoral cross of an abbess and a monstrance recalling her devotion to the feast of Corpus Christi 30th August Bl Bronislava Born around 1200 at Kamien in present day Poland As a young girl she expressed interest in becoming a religious sister but her father stubbornly resisted Bronislava was despondent until the Lord himself appeared to her with the reassuring promise Patience Bronislava you will become my spouse She was finally permitted to enter the community of the Norbertine nuns at Cracow around the year 1219 Bronislava identified so closely with the cross that one day on a hillside by the convent the crucified Christ appeared to her and said Bronislava as my cross has been your cross so too will my crown be your crown In early Lent of the year 1241 Bronislava with some of her sisters were praying with arms outstretched in the form of a cross when they received the news that the savage Tartars were advancing rapidly towards Cracow the convent was in imminent danger of destruction Bronislava took up a crucifix pressed it to her heart and said to her sisters Do not fear anything the cross will save us She then

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  • Canonesses Regular of the Order
    happily adopted these new statues others felt called to move to areas of the Order where such regulations were not so rigorously enforced Eventually the nuns almost disappeared entirely from Western Europe as more and more communities migrated to Eastern Europe to Westphalia Moravia Bohemia Poland and Hungary where they were influential in the education of the nobility The rise of Protestantism and later religious and political revolutions took their toll on communities of canonesses until save for houses in central and eastern Europe they almost became extinct Today the communities that are associated with the Order can be found in Holland Belgium Spain France Poland the United States the Czech Republic Slovakia Hungary Switzerland and Germany The Canonesses at Toro and Villoria de Orbigo began their existence with the canons at San Miguel de Groh from whence the canonesses transferred to Santa Sofia going to Villoria de Orbigo in 1511 In the 16th century when the Spanish houses split with the rest of the Order even adopting black birettas the canonesses were placed under the jurisdiction of the local bishops though relations with the Order were restored in the 19th century Blessed Bronislava The canonesses in Poland also claim a long history The convent at Krakow Zwierzyniec was founded in 1148 and the canonesses remain there to this day Two canonesses from this convent are venerated in the Order Blessed Bronislava and Sister Emilia Podoska The other Polish convent at Imbramowice was founded in 1226 Both convents suffered enormously under the communist regime The convent at Doksany in Bohemia was re established from Krakow in 1998 It had originally been founded in 1144 but was suppressed by Joseph II in 1782 In the Belgium the convent at Veerle was founded in the 19th century to meet growing pastoral needs The community at Oosterhout has roots stretching as far back as the 13th century the reformers and revolutionaries took their toll and in 1625 only one sister remained to pass on the torch despite all such turbulence the sisters continue to live the Premonstratensian life A new community also exists in Holland where at Mariengaard a group of sisters was established in 1992 The canonesses at Bonlieu arrived there in the 14th century by which time it was one of only two houses in France It had died out by the following century but revived in 1871 by the celebrated Marie de la Croix The anti clerical laws forced the sisters to leave in 1901 finding refuge near the abbey of Grimbergen The canonesses returned in 1933 The convents of Veerle and Oosterhout are directly under the jurisdiction of the Order whereas those in Spain Poland and Bonlieu in France are under the jurisdiction of the local bishop In addition there also exist five congregations of Norbertine sisters St Gallen Berg Sion in Switzerland was founded in 1766 and acknowledged by the General Chapter of 1897 These Third Order sisters are dedicated to perpetual adoration The Norbertine Sisters of Svaty

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    of Our Holy Father Augustine 1586 years since the death of Our Holy Father Augustine 936 years since the birth of Our Holy Father Norbert 923 years since the birth of Blessed Hugh Continue reading Premonstratensians and gingerbread As the holy feast approaches some of the most beautiful passages from the old testament are uttered in the sanctuary during the Mass Yesterday we heard the famous sentences from the Song of Songs where the Bride sings to her Bridegroom Continue reading Rorate Mass I m often asked What is your Order s charism It stumps me a little because we are much too old to have been founded with a particular charism in mind much like the Rosary the second question I m asked is why don t Continue reading Links For links to other houses of the Order please use the map below View Larger Map Other Links International Site of the Order Diocese of Brentwood The Holy See You Are My Order You are my Order Just as bishops have their canons delegated to offer public prayer in their diocese in the same way you are my canons not just for one diocese but for the universal Church

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  • Biography
    at Rheims he decided to suspend his missionary labours to betake himself to Rheims offer his services to the Holy Father and ask approbation of and blessing on his apostolic life He arrived there in the month of October little expecting the disappointment that awaited him Louis le Gros King of France archbishops Bishops Abbots numerous dignitaries of the church and State from the various courts of Europe had responded to the call of the Pope Amongst these dignitaries their secretaries and attendants occupied as they were with the necessary preparations for the council which was shortly to be opened Norbert moved about unnoticed and his repeated request for an interview with the Pope was quite unheeded Recognising the uselessness of his efforts Norbert and his companions left the city They had travelled some distance and overcome by fatigue were seated by the roadside As they looked along the way they intended to travel they noticed the dust rising in clouds and distinctly heard the sound of approaching horses galloping along the road Then came in view a cavalcade of men at arms and ecclesiastics One of these a man of distinction and high rank commanded a halt He enquired who these would be pilgrims might be and whither they were travelling Norbert explained briefly who they were and what was his dilemma So impressed was the ecclesiastic who was no other than Bartholomew de Vir bishop of Laon and cousin of the Pope that he had immediate arrangements made to enable Norbert and his companions to return to Rheims in his company The Council was opened October 20 the day after his arrival At its conclusion Norbert through the intermediary of Bishop de Vir was summoned to the presence of the Pope To him Norbert opened his mind and heart and asked for the renewal of the favours granted him by Pope Gelasius The Holy Father only too pleased to meet with one so full of zeal did not hesitate to confirm what his predecessor had granted and encouraged the saint to pursue energetically his apostolic career He wished to converse longer but with so much business on hand he could not spare the time he therefore expressed the hope that they would meet later on at Bishop de Vir s palace whither he intended to go when matters relating to the council were fully settled Norbert accompanied the Bishop to Laon and there awaited the arrival of the Pope In the meantime Hugh of Fusses went off to his native place to dispose of his temporal affairs and the other companion withdrew for the time being In due course the Holy Father arrived The bishop was most anxious that Norbert should remain in his diocese and in this he was upheld by the persuasions of the Pope The Holy Father recognised that Norbert could do much good by his itinerant preaching but he considered that greater good would be done by his founding a religious Order the members of which would inherit his apostolic spirit and zeal In this Order the active and contemplative life could be merged and considerable assistance given to the secular clergy in carrying out the reform insisted on by recent Councils of the Church Time would be necessary to come to a decision and if an Order was to be founded a suitable place would have to be acquired and the necessary aspirants to the Order gathered together Until a final decision could be adopted Norbert at the request of the Pope as much as that of the Bishop became superior of the Canons of the Collegiate Church of St Martin They needed reform They strongly resented any interference on the part of St Norbert to change the comfortable mode of life they had adopted so that finding his endeavours towards reform to be of no avail the saint asked to be relieved of the task The Bishop reluctantly yielded to his request and invited him to return to his house Together they visited several places in the diocese for the purpose of selecting suitable ground on which to erect a monastery None of them had any attraction for Norbert till they arrived at the valley of Prémontré situated in the forest of Voois near to Coucy In an open space stood a chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist where on certain days Holy Mass was said for the charcoal burners Norbert expressed a wish to spend the night there in prayer The Bishop left him When they met the following morning Norbert stated that not only was it the place of God s choice but that in a vision he had seen a body of men clothed in white They carried a silver cross candlesticks and thuribles and sang whilst they walked round the valley The Bishop was greatly surprised at Norbert s choice Prémontré was anything but a desirable spot in which to live however he was quite prepared to assist Norbert in every possible way They then returned to Laon where in the course of an address to the students of the local college Norbert spoke of his designs regarding Prémontré with the result that seven of the students offered themselves as disciples As soon as the necessary arrangements could be carried out Norbert and his disciples received from the hands of the Bishop the white habit which tradition states was indicated to St Norbert in a vision by our Lady This reception of the habit took place in the early part of 1120 Adjacent to the walls of the chapel in Prémontré dwellings of quite a simple form in which to house the newly clothed religious had been erected Prayer the chant of the psalms in common and manual labour constituted their daily occupation Wishful to increase the number of his disciples Norbert resumed his apostolic life with renewed ardour Wherever he preached crowds flocked to hear his words He and St Bernard of Clairvaux achieved similar triumphs for as each in his own sphere passed from place to place preaching the word of God both created a spiritual enthusiasm productive of salutary results The saintly austere life of Norbert the persuasiveness of his discourses the deeds of wonder popularly attributed to him aroused an ever increasing admiration His progress was fertile in conversions and those who presented themselves for acceptance as disciples were many In the course of a short time his family at Prémontré had considerably increased About this time he was rejoined by Hugh of Fosses together they made for Cologne and arrived there in the month of October In days now passed Cologne had admired and honoured the brilliant young count of Gennep after his conversion the inhabitants had laughed at him and treated him with contempt but now impressed by what they were told they recognised him as a heaven sent preacher and hurried to listen to his words He purposed to build at Prémontré a church a worthy house of God and as he knew Cologne Cathedral to be rich in relics he was in hopes of being able to obtain some of these precious treasures He was not disappointed He obtained relics of St Gereon M of the two Saints Ewald M M and of Saint Ursula V M With these sacred remains in his possession he set out on his return to Prémontré He was accompanied by Hugh and several newly recruited disciples On his way he met with Court Godfrey and his wife Ermensinde who made him a present of their house at Floreffe close to Namur This was the first graft on the growth of Prémontré They were by now in the month of December the number of clerics at Prémontré was about forty with an additional number of lay disciples Constitutions were drawn up for the canonical organisation of this newly created family and the religious profession took place on Christmas Day 1121 The nature of the Order at Prémontré The object St Norbert had in view in instituting his order was to unite to the practices of piety and penance the duties of the care of the Souls Of both forms of life the active and the contemplative the holy Founder was an exemplary model He spent hours in prayer and a considerable time in contemplation His practice of penance was severe beyond expression To these acts of personal sanctification he joined the work of an apostolic life The rules of the religious life present that life in different forms thereby offering to souls which aspire to that life a choice of vocation St Norbert s choice favoured the contemplative life joined to the active His mode of life at Prémontré gave the impression that he was less the Founder of an Order than one wishful to bring the canonical order of life back to its primitive fervour He urged that the shepherds of souls should labour at their personal sanctification as well as fulfil the duties of their sacred ministry he advocated that ministers of the altar should by exemplary lives secure for themselves the esteem so necessary for the success of their labours The rule of St Augustine emphasized by the addition of observances Cistercian in their nature answered admirably to the requirements of the Founder Divine approbation favoured the choice according to a statement of St Norbert himself handed down by chroniclers He stated I know a brother of our Community who diligently sought a rule of life suitable to follow In answer to the prayers of his brethren and not through any personal merits St Augustine appeared to him Extending his right hand he offered a copy of his rule and said I am Augustine Bishop of Hippo this is the rule I have written If your brethren my children fight the good fight under its guidance they will at the last day stand at the tribunal of divine justice without fear Those who have handed down the statement declare that he said this in all humility as though the words were addressed to someone other than himself but unquestionably he and no other was favoured with this revelation The one important occupation at Prémontré was the daily recitation of the divine office At midnight sleepful repose was broken into for the recitation of matins and each day the office was chanted and a solemn Mass celebrated The Order has always esteemed the chanting of the divine office a duty of first importance and for this reason a first condition for the foundation of a new community as stated in ancient statutes was the possession of liturgical books and the necessary books of chant Manual labour especially land tillage was introduced in the early days of the Order and proved to be all untold benefit to the locality in which houses were established Manuscript writing and the study of ecclesiastical subjects were also carried on and during these occupations silence was rigidly observed The canonical members of the order wore a white habit consisting of a cassock scapular cincture and cloak with hood In choir they wore the surplice The lay brothers who worked on the farm or in the workshops attached to the monastery wore a greyish habit of which the tunic and scapular differed in shape from that of the Canons Our saint according to records is the one who it seems first devised a Third Order The circumstance of the foundation was this Count Theobald of Champagne a wealthy and well known noble in France approached Saint Norbert with a view to becoming one of his disciples After some consideration Norbert decided that the vocation of Theobald was to live a saintly life in the world He drew up for him a rule of life and made him a partaker of the good works and merits of the Order Theobald s example was followed by others and at one time the members of this third order became most numerous From the time he celebrated his first Mass Norbert entertained a constant devotion towards the Holy Eucharist and exercised zeal in propagating the devotion He has merited to be usually depicted holding the monstrance in his hand and in the chronological order of the saints he heads the list of those who are known as Eucharistic Saints His contemporaries write eulogistically of Norbert s faith and devotedness to the Holy Sacrament of the Altar He was accustomed to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice more than once in a day for in those days the practice was allowable At the altar in presence of and by the power of his Eucharistic Lord he performed the greater number of his miraculous deeds The curing of the sick the blind and the lame the deliverance of those possessed by evil spirits conversions of sinners and reconciliations of enemies as stated in his life took place for the most part during the celebration of Holy Mass The following is an incident from the life given by chroniclers of the XII century The miracle happened at Floreffe in Belgium Norbert was celebrating the Holy Mass when shortly before the communion he saw in the centre of the paten a large drop of the blood of our Lord He drew the attention of Brother Rodolph the sacristan who was his deacon and said Do you see what I see Yes I do was the reply and Norbert overcome by pious emotion wept The drop of blood was removed and the paten washed This gave rise to a practice at one time observed in the order The zeal exercised by Norbert in defending and strengthening the doctrine of the Real Presence was strenuously tested in the north of Belgium about the year 11 24 The heretic Tanchelin had caused spiritual desolation in Antwerp and the neighbourhood by his denunciation of the Church the Priesthood and the Sacraments Though he had died a tragic death his false doctrines still lived and continued to exude their deadly poison Bishop Burchard of Cambrai had employed various means to overcome the heresy but so far his many attempts had been so many failures In his perplexity he remembered Norbert appealed to him and Norbert quickly responded to the invitation He carefully selected from amongst the brethren those disting uished by their piety zeal and erudition and with them set out for Antwerp They speedily gained the admiration of the people and then their hearing The frequent sermons and instructions were attentively listened to and the Antwerpians soon realised that they had been deceived The heretical doctrines of Tanchelin were repudiated and the people returned to the practice of their ancient faith In recognition of the service he had rendered Norbert was acclaimed by the people Apostle of Antwerp which title he holds to this day and from the Canons of St Michael he received the gift of their church In time an abbey was built up around it and from it were founded the well known Abbeys of Averbode Middlebourg and Tongerloo This chapter would be incomplete if no allusion were made to the devotion of the Order towards the Blessed Mother of God Saint Norbert himself inculcated the devotion on his disciples and amongst other things wished them to consider the colour of their habit an external mark of their internal piety The Roman Martyrology commemorates on August 8th the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St Norbert in the chapel of St John the Baptist at Prémontré when she indicated to him the white habit he was to wear The tradition is handed down that St Norbert and consequently his disciples always favoured the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception Progress of the Order at Prémontré The ever increasing number of disciples called urgently for greater accommodation and time could not be lost in providing it As the building of the church was of equal importance a site for it should fast be decided upon and the new buildings raised adjacent to it The choice of a site was somewhat of a puzzle owing to the irregular formation of the land The community had recourse to prayer and were favoured with a speedy reply One of their number whilst at prayer saw a figure of our Lord crucified as it were erected on the spot where the church now stands Seven rays of light shone forth from the figure and lit up the country round From four opposite sides pilgrims arrived bearing their wallets and staves and approached the crucifix Here they prostrated themselves kissed the feet of the figure and rising departed along the same roads by which they had come as though to bear to the four quarters of the globe the blessings of redemption Norbert decided that this should be the place on which to erect the church and the work was begun forthwith Bishop Bartholomew of Laon with numerous attendants in presence of Bishop Lysiard of Soissons blessed the foundations with all the ceremony of church ritual As soon as the building was completed Norbert invited the same two bishops to perform the dedication This solemn dedication was magnificently carried out on May 4th 1122 Historians of the XII century tell of extraordinary happenings whilst the Church and Abbey were being built The enemy of man the devil evidently enraged at the proceedings openly manifested his rage His spiteful acts availed him nothing but gave to Norbert and Hugh opportunities of exercising the power over evil spirits that God gives to His saints Historians likewise tell of the heavenlike peace that grew to reign in Prémontré and so far reaching was this peace that even the wild animals of the forest came under its influence One of their stories is well worth the telling A brother had gone out with the cattle of the monastery to keep them from straying During the morning a wolf sauntered up to him in quite a friendly manner and kept him

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