St. Norbert in the Driftless

As a New Liturgical Movement article reminds me, yesterday (June 6) was the feast day of St. Norbert of Xanten. St. Norbert is the patron saint of St. Norbert Parish in Roxbury, WI. The parish was founded by Fr. Adalbert Inama, a 19th-century missionary priest who is regarded as the Apostle of the Four Lakes Region.* Fr. Inama belonged to the Premonstratensian Order, also known as the Norbertines because they were founded by St. Norbert. So a Norbertine priest named the parish after the founder of his order. To add to the name game, Fr. Inama shared his Christian name with St. Adalbert, the first Archbishop of Magdeburg, a see that St. Norbert later held.

In addition to being one of the best-preserved historic churches in the Driftless Area, St. Norbert’s is also a hub for the Traditional Latin Mass, which is offered there on weekdays and on Sundays (click the parish link above for the schedule). The parish is served by the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, which was founded in Spain (here’s the website of their founder). I think the missionary heritage at St. Norbert’s is heartening. St. Norbert held the see of St. Adalbert, the Apostle of the Slavs. His spiritual son Fr. Adalbert Inama came from Austria to serve the German-speaking Catholics of the Driftless Area. Now a Spanish order has taken the baton.

Beyond the Driftless Area, the Norbertines founded St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. I met several St. Norbert alumni/alumnae during my brief foray as a teacher at a Catholic school. Additionally, the National Shrine of St. Joseph is located at Saint Norbert Abbey in De Pere.

I’m reminded of the passage somewhere in the New Testament where it says that the apostles (or maybe it’s the saints more generally) will rule over the nations. When St. Norbert died on June 6, 1134, in Magdeburg, Germany, one wonders if he ever thought his name and image would grace a church in the wilds of Vinland, if he had ever heard of that far-off land at all.

*The Madison area is known as the Four Lakes Region because of Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. The four lakes also explain why the coat of arms of the Diocese of Madison shows a cross with water in the four quadrants; each quadrant represents one of the lakes that surround Madison.

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