St. Nicholas’ Day

Today (Dec. 6, regardless of what appears above) is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, Bishop and Confessor. When my maternal grandmother was a girl, children received gifts from St. Nicholas on the morning of his feast day. The children set out their shoes on the night before. I think they filled the shoes with hay for St. Nicholas’ horses. In the morning, they found the shoes filled with oranges, apples, and nuts. That’s how St. Nicholas was celebrated in one German-American Catholic family in the Driftless Area, 40-50 years before Vatican II.

This Old World Catholic tradition was remembered in Wisconsin through the year 2000 at least. When I was a freshman at Marquette, the Residence Assistant in our dorm set small gifts of candy from our parents outside our doors on the morning of St. Nicholas’ Day. We were in the midst of finals and looking forward to Christmas break. It’s a fond memory. Continue reading

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. Continue reading