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Saint Norbert

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Saint Norbert kneeling before a monstrance holding the holy eucharist
Saint Norbert kneeling before a monstrance holding the holy eucharist

Saint Norbert, a Roman Catholic priest and founder of an ascetic religious order in Europe, is one of several patron saints petitioned for a safe childbirth. After an early life filled with luxury in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, Norbert died a pious preacher who gave away all of his property to the poor. The feast of Saint Norbert is celebrated on June 6.

Saint Norbert lived from 1080 - 1134 A.D. in central Europe. His early years included a luxurious life as part of Holy Roman Emperor Henry V's court as his almoner, the person in charge of distributing charity, where he repeatedly refused ordination as a priest and turned down appointment as bishop of Cambrai in 1113. After a nearly fatal fall from his horse during a storm, he had a dramatic change of heart and renounced all of the luxury of his life as a member of the court. He was ordained to the priesthood and began his life-long work of restoring the virtues of poverty and charity to various religious orders. At the Council of Reims in 1119, Pope Calixtus II asked Norbert to found a religious order in the Diocese of Laon in France. Fairly quickly, his religious order grew in numbers and popularity. Saint Norbert often traveled about Europe performing miracles and preaching his ways of charity and poverty to lay people. In the schism following the election of Pope Innocent II in 1130, Norbert supported Innocent and resisted the Antipope Anacletus II. In Norbert's last years, he was chancellor and adviser to Lothair II, the Holy Roman Emperor, persuading him to lead an army to Rome in 1133 to restore Innocent to the papacy. Saint Norbert died on June 6, 1134, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Saint Norbert's iconography typically shows him holding or kneeling before a monstrance, and carrying a double armed cross.

In the religion of Cuban Santeria, Saint Norbert is associated with the orisha Ochosi (also spelled Ochossi, Oshosi, or Oxosi). He is also associated with the mpungo Watariamba in the Afro-Cuban religion of Palo Monte.

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