Thursday, June 06, 2019

Relics of St Norbert

Today is the feast of St Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensian Order, who died in 1134 as archbishop of Magdeburg, in the modern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, and was buried in the choir of his order’s local church. The city was one of the first to turn Protestant in the 16th-century, and although the Saint’s relics were not profaned, as were those of so many others, it was no longer possible for Catholics to venerate them. During the Thirty Years’ War, however, the abbot of Strahov, the Premonstratensian house in Prague, was able to recover them during a temporary Catholic occupation of the area, and bring them to back to his abbey, where they were officially installed on May 2nd, 1627, and have remained to this day.

A Facebook page dedicated to the various orders and congregations of Augustinian Canons Regular, including the Premonstratensians, published these photographs of the actual bones of St Norbert, which we share by the kind permission of Dom Jakobus, a canon of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, who administers the page. (It is frequently updated with many interesting pictures, both modern and historical, of the canons and their liturgies.)

The shrine of St Norbert in the choir of Strahov Abbey.
The Premonstratensians traditionally kept a feast on May 7th of the translation of St Norbert’s relics; the Matins lessons of the second nocturn state that when the original burial site was opened, the skeleton was found intact.

Here are some great old photographs of the shrine in Strahov Abbey, and of a procession held in Prague with the relics; they are not precisely dated, but František Kordač, who was Archbishop of Prague from 1919-1931, is shown in the procession.

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