Norbert was born around the year 1080 in Xanten, near the Rhineland in Germany. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was a member of the high nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and related to the imperial house and also to the House of Lorraine. His mother was Hedwig of Guise. Heribert had 2 other sons apart from Norbert. Though they were rich they were not arrogant and were devoted to God and spiritual.
The meaning of the name Norbert is derived from 2 words ‘North and Birth Right.’ Norbert was very intelligent and filled with wisdom. He soon earned his degree in Greek and Latin. Norbert life was around the time of the tribulation in the Catholic Church. He was the only support for his mother after the loss of his father and brothers in the Crusade. But the mother recognized that Norbert had the calling of God and let him join the religious order.
Norbert held the religious order in high esteem and even before his ordination he was appointed as the Canon of Xanten. Fredrick the bishop of Cologne was impressed with his intelligence and invited him to live with him in the palace and ordained him as the deacon. He went on to serve the German Emperor Henry V as a Chaplin in 1106. In those days the kings had a say in the running of the Catholic Church and they interfered in the day to day working of the Church. Norbert questioned these interventions. In approximately 1112, while riding on horseback near Xanten, he was caught in a storm and nearly killed by a lightning bolt. When he awoke his first words were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The same words Saul spoke on the road to Damascus. In response Norbert heard in his heart, “Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” His complete conversion and new ways caused some to denounce the former courtier as a hypocrite. Norbert’s response was to give everything he owned to the poor and to go to the Pope for permission to preach.
In 1115 after his ordination he went to the seminary of Benedict and there he penned the thought on priesthood, “O Priest! You are not of yourself because you are of God. You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing.”
In 1118 he took permission from Pope Gelasius II and was elected as the Bishop in 1126 and died on 6th June 1134. On July 28th 1582 he was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory the XIII.
St Norbert was able to reject the worldly pleasures with courage and was ready to accept Jesus. His life is a model for all the young generations who go behind the worldly pleasures and learn to accept Jesus and turn to the Lord.