The election of St Norbert to the bishopric of Magdeburg

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful,
and enkindle within them the fire of Thy love.

℣ Send forth Thy Spirit, O Lord
℟ And Thou shall renew the face of the earth

Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His holy consolations. Through Christ our Lord. ℟ Amen.

He entered Magdeburg barefoot, clad in the garment of poverty

He entered Magdeburg barefoot, clad in the garment of poverty

Norbert found himself in Speyer in the Palatinate, where the Saxons had gathered in large number with the clergy of Magdeburg and King Lothair to elect a new archbishop. When they heard that the man, whom people from different nations of the world acclaimed as holy, had arrived, they sent for him to come and give a sermon which people enjoyed hearing. But they also sent for him to hear his advice on certain business which required that some of them be there.

First the case of the people of Magdeburg was dealt with. They were left without a spiritual father. Present at the meeting was Cardinal Gerard, who had recently come from Rome, and a number of princes. These men proposed three names for the election, one of which was Father Norbert. However, Norbert was unaware of this. While they were undecided and looking for the best of the three candidates, Albero, the Bishop of Metz secretly indicated with his hand that they should chose the man of God, Norbert. They immediately seized him, and cried loudly: “We elect this man as our father, we approve him as our shepherd!”

The frail man could not defend himself, and led away to a place he did not know, carrying with him a very heavy burden.

As is customary, at Norbert’s entry into Magdeburg was a great assembly of people. All were joyful, both young and old: the old because they had elected someone well-known and respected; the young because they were receiving in this man someone who would sympathise with their difficulties.

From a distance, he gazed at the city to which he was being led, and entered it barefoot. Barefoot he entered the sanctuary with the procession. Barefoot he was led to the palace a poor man, poor and garbed in a cloak. While others were entering, he was rejected by the doorkeeper, since he was unknown to him. The doorkeeper said to Norbert: “The other poor people were admitted long ago. It isn’t proper for you to intrude rudely along with this throng of princes.”

Those who were following exclaimed: “Wretch! What are you doing? Let him go! What have you done? Do you not know that this is our bishop, and your master?”

The man quickly fled and hid, but Father Norbert, calling him back, said with a smile: “Do not be afraid, and do not flee, brother. You know me better and see me more clearly than those who force me, appearing so poor and simple, to this lofty palace to which I should not have been elevated.”

℣ Being found in the rugged paths of vice by the Guardian of the city,
℟ Stayed by lightning stroke, he put off the old man.

℣ He who was dead lives again;
℟ He who was lost is found.

℣ Having laid aside his earthly goods
℟ He put on the garment of poverty.

℣ When he found the valley of Prémontré, he cried:
℟ “This is the spot which the Lord has chosen for us.”

℣ What he preached in word, he fulfilled in deed
℟ Confirming the faithful by his miracles and wonderful actions.

℣ He entered Magdeburg barefoot
℟ And clothed in the garment of poverty

℣ Having given his support to the Holy Church of Rome in her afflictions,
℟ Blessing his brethren, he fell asleep in Christ.

Norbert, as a burning light placed on a candlestick, illumined all who dwelt with him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

℣ Pray for us, O Holy Father Norbert,
℟ That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, who did make of Blessed Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop, an excellent preacher of the Word, and by his means did enrich Thy Church with new offspring, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his intercession we may put into practice, by Thy grace, what he taught us, both in word and work.

Awake, O Lord, in Thy Church the Spirit by Whom St. Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop was guided, in order that, filled with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and live as he taught us.

O Lord, grant to us Thy servant’s constancy in Thy faith and service, that, rooted in Divine charity, we may not be conquered by any temptation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

℣ Praised be the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar
℟ And the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


About piusdcollins

Canon of the Premonstratensian Canonry of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Philip Benizi, Chelmsford.
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