Saint Norbert (+1134) of Xanten was a zealous bishop and founder, at the forefront of the ecclesial reform named after Pope Gregory VII – who was often called by his previous name, Hildebrand, and who was the initial impetus behind the reform, which dragged the Church out of the worst scandals of the ‘dark ages’. Norbert was born in 1075, ten years before the death of the influential Pontiff in 1085, but it was not until his 35th year, in 1115, that he underwent a deep conversion – like the later Martin Luther (a more tragic tale) Norbert survived a lightning strike, and afterward vowed his life to God. Norbert’s reform began first with himself, retreating to a life of prayer and penance, taking on a rather extreme asceticism.

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