Feast of St. Norbert of Xanten, St. Evermod, and Blessed Hugh of Fosses (February 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Northern Part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1000 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NORBERT OF XANTEN (CIRCA 1080-1134)

Founder of the Premonstratensians

His feast transferred from June 6

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SAINT EVERMOD, A.K.A. SAINT EVERMODE (DIED CIRCA 1178)

“Apostle to the Wends”

His feast transferred from February 17

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BLESSED HUGH OF FOSSES (CIRCA 1093-1167)

Second Founder of the Premonstratensians

His feast transferred from February 10

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St. Norbert of Xanten was a nobleman and a courtier of his cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V (reigned 1106-1125).  But St. Norbert had a profound religious experience.  Struck by lightning, he perceived that he heard the words St. Paul the Apostle did on the road to Damascus.  He became a dedicated ascetic and a monk.  Unfortunately for St. Norbert, many of his fellow monks objected to expectations that they should have to live according to the standard of asceticism that he wished they would.  Pope Gelasius II (reigned 1118-1119) granted St. Norbert permission to preach where he wished; he chose northern France.  He founded the Canons Regular of Premontre (the Premonstratensians) in 1121 and pioneered tertiary membership in religious orders, whereby one could live in the world, remain married, and follow religious practices.  Made Archbishop of Magdeburg in 1126, the saint upheld the rights of the church against royal enroachments, a stance which caused him to become the target of several assassination attempts.  He also supported Pope Innocent II (reigned 1130-1143) against antipope Anacletus II (1125-1137) and persuaded German King Lothair II (reigned 1125-1127; Holy Roman Emperor from 1133) to lead an army to Rome to support the Pope in 1133.  That year the Emperor appointed St. Norbert Chancellor of Italy.  St. Norbert died on June 16, 1134.

St. Norbert mentored Blessed Hugh of Fosses, who was born at Fosses, near Namur, in modern-day Belgium.  He met St. Norbert in 1119 and helped the saint to draw up the constitutions of the Premonstratensian order.  Blessed Hugh became Superior General of the order and abbot of the mother house (Premontre Abbey) in 1128.  He was the Second Founder of the order because he built it up so well.

St. Evermod heard St. Norbert reach at Cambrai in 1120.  Impressed, St. Evermod became one of the earliest Premonstratensians.  He accompanied St. Norbert to Antwerp in 1124 on a mission to undo the damage one Tanchelm (died in 1115) had done.  Tanchelm was a rogue monk who preached against the institutional church and the payment of tithes.  He also declared himself King of Antwerp in 1115, at which point a priest killed him.  Nine years later, Tanchelm’s legacy remained.  St. Evermod succeeded St. Norbert as superior of Gottesgnaden monastery in 1134.  Four years later, he became abbot of Magdeburg abbey.  St. Evermod remained in Magdeburg for two decades until he became a  bishop in 1154.  As Bishop of Ratzeburg he proved an effective evangelist, hence his label, “Apostle to the Wends.”

The Premonstratensians continue.  As for Tanchelm, who, other than ecclesiastical history buffs, recall him?  What will your legacy be?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 5, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALBERT GORE, SR., UNITED STATES SENATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT SABAS, ORTHODOX MONK

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O God,

whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world,

that we, inspired by the devotion of your servants

Saints Norbert of Xanten

Saint Evermod,

and Blessed Hugh of Fosses,

may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34 or 34:1-8

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 249 and 927

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Revised on December 2, 2016

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