The sweet death of St Norbert

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.


Physically, Norbert was weak, worn out from long and hard penances. His infirmity grew worse because of the burden and strain of traveling as well as the corrupt air of the land. Add to this solicitude for his domestic affairs, the change of climate and the constant unrest. However, it is not possible for any one person to tell all the things which were accomplished by him there or elsewhere, because it is impossible for one person to know or become acquainted with everything.

It is known that not longer after his return to the city of Magdeburg from Italy, Norbert was seized by a grave illness and suffered from it for four months. Filled with the Holy Spirit and in full possession of his sense and while giving blessing to those in attendance, Norbert died peacefully. He had administered his diocese wisely and faithfully for eight years. As Blessed Augustine said: “one who had lived well could not died badly.”

It was the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 1134, the Wednesday after Pentecost, the eighth day before the Ides of June, in the fifth year of the reign of Pope Innocent, the ninth year of the reign of Lothair.

His body lay unburied and day by day was brought to the different monasteries of his city. In each one, vigils and those prayers which are due to the faithful departed were carefully celebrated. On the eighth day, the body of the holy man was buried with his confreres in the Church of Blessed Mary.

On the same day and hour on which his soul was separated from his body, a confrere saw Norbert in a white garment and a fine likeness, holding an olive branch in his hand. When the confrere asked him, somewhat fearfully, whence he came and where he was hastening, he answered: “I was sent from paradise whence I have brought this green olive branch and I go quickly to plant it to the place of my poverty at Prémontré.”

Blessed is Norbert, the first Father of this Order. Surely blessed, he spurned worldly heights and, subject to the yoke of Christ, dutifully sowed the seed which all around has born a marvelous fruit, fruit through which the cloister rule saves many, fruit which joyfully fills the heavenly storehouses. An incredible spirit, a divine fire, marked him out and made him known for learning. He burned with heavenly light. He was the peer of the great doctors. Crowned with merit, he bears an imperishable name. He constantly loved true poverty. With courageous faith he put Satan to flight. Vessel of the Eternal Word, minister of peace, he secured peace, reconciling discord. Advanced to episcopal office, he was outstanding, a cross for the wicked, an example for the good. In all Church affairs he was a shining star. Blessed is he who could stand secure before swords. Conscious of no wrong in himself, he does not grow pale with guilt, nor hesitate to die, but is bound to the love of Christ. Blessed is he who, when the Lord comes, will have troops whom the good judge will choose from our Order. May grace protect us at this time of trial. Amen. Here ends the life of our glorious father, Norbert.

℣ 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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