Died: June 6th, 1134
FEast: June 6th
conversions, truth-seeking, discomfort
Norbert, from a noble family, had never wanted anything he could not have as he grew up, and was a lover of comfort. When he became a priest, it was not even because he longed to be a part of religious life, but because being a canon at the court ensured even more financial stability for him.
His whole life changed, however, one night as he was out riding his horse. He was thrown to the ground when lightning scared his horse, and he lay on the ground in the wind and rain for almost an hour. When he came to, he spoke the same words St. Paul had when he was similarly blinded, and heard a similar response.
He now truly desired to be a priest and gave away all his belongings. This sudden and complete change caused many who knew him to be suspicious of him, but nevertheless, he set out to be an itinerant preacher. He traveled throughout what is now Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Northern France, even in the middle of winter, while walking barefoot. The companions who chose to follow Norbert in this actually died from the exposure, but Norbert continued, apparently making miracles, encouraging clergy that had been overlooked and forgotten by the higher Church, and combating illogical ideas they had developed.
Norbert was soon given land and permission to begin his own Order. He ran his community in a very strict manner, and had 13 companions to start, but the number soon grew to 40.
There was a Count Theobald that wanted to join the Norbertines, but Norbert believed he would better serve his community in a lay position, and so instituted the first Third Order, in which a person could be part of a religious order without living in the monastery or taking so drastic a turn from their regular lives.
Later in life, Norbert was appointed Bishop of Magdeburg. He lead with his typical strictness, which generated several attempts made on his life.
There are still many Norbertine groups throughout the world to this day.
While we are encouraged to enjoy the good things of this life, you realized what it means to choose the uncomfortable - to not take the easy way out or let things be. When you embraced what could be achieved outside of your easy comfort, you made such a difference for so many. Show us what might lay just beyond the place in which we’d rather not go. Amen.
The image of the thunderstorm that brought about Norbert's conversion was the main theme for this icon, from the colors and mood to his lightning tattoo. He is shown with a monstrance and cross as he is in most images, and his expression shows his more serious nature.