The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as the Premonstratensians, the Norbertines and, in Britain and Ireland, as the White Canons[2] (from the colour of their habit), are a religious order of Canons regular of the Catholic Church founded in Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten, who later became Archbishop of Magdeburg. Premonstratensians are designated by O.Praem. (Ordo Praemonstratensis) following their name.

Norbert was a friend of Bernard of Clairvaux and so was largely influenced by the Cistercian ideals as to both the manner of life and the government of his order. As the Premonstratensians are not monks but Canons Regular, their work often involves preaching and the exercising of pastoral ministry; they frequently serve in parishes close to their abbeys or priories.[2]

Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré
Candidus et Canonicus Ordo Praemonstratensis (in Latin)
Shield of the Premonstratensians
Shield of the Premonstratensians
TypeCatholic religious order
HeadquartersViale Giotto, 27, 00153
Rome, Italy
  • Worldwide
Coordinates41°52′44.07″N 12°29′19.39″E / 41.8789083°N 12.4887194°ECoordinates: 41°52′44.07″N 12°29′19.39″E / 41.8789083°N 12.4887194°E
Region served
1300 (2012)[1]
Josef Wouters
Main organ
General Chapter
AffiliationsCatholic Church


The order was founded in 1120.[3] Saint Norbert had made various efforts to introduce a strict form of canonical life in various communities of canons in Germany; in 1120 he was working in the now-extinct Ancient Diocese of Laon, in Picardy, northeastern France. There, in a rural place called Prémontré, he and thirteen companions established a monastery to be the cradle of a new order. As they were canons regular, they followed the Rule of St. Augustine, but with supplementary statutes that made their life one of great austerity.[2] Common prayer and celebration of the Eucharist was to be the sustaining dynamic of the community.[4]

Rüti - Ortsmuseum - Kloster - Prämostratenser-Habit IMG 5172
Religious habit of a Premonstratensian, former Rüti Abbey

In 1126, when the order received papal approbation by Pope Honorius II, there were nine houses; others were established in quick succession throughout western Europe, so that at the middle of the fourteenth century there were some 1,300 monasteries for men and 400 for women. The Norbertines played a predominant part in the conversion of the Wends and the bringing of Christianity to the territories around the Elbe and the Oder. In time, mitigations and relaxations emerged, and these gave rise to reforms and semi-independent congregations within the Order.[2]

The Norbertines came to England about 1143, first at Newhouse in Lincoln, England, and before the dissolution under Henry VIII there were 35 houses.[2] Soon after their arrival in England, they founded Dryburgh Abbey in the Borders area of Scotland, which was followed by other communities at Whithorn Priory, Dercongal Abbey and Tongland Abbey all in the Borders area, as well as Fearn Abbey in the northern part of the nation. Like most orders they were almost completely devastated by the successive onslaughts of the Reformation, French Revolution and Napoleon, but then experienced a revival in the 19th century.[5]

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the order had become almost extinct, only eight houses surviving, all in Austria.[2] However, there was something of a resurgence, and at the start of the twentieth century there were 20 monasteries and 1000 priests. As of 2005, the number of monasteries had increased to nearly 100 and spread to every continent. In 1893, Father Bernard Pennings and two other Norbertines from Berne Abbey came to the United States to minister to Belgian immigrants in northern Wisconsin. De Pere, Wisconsin became the site of the first Norbertine Abbey in the new world.[6]

In the twenty-first century, like all canons regular, they follow the Augustinian Rule. In order to “earn their living”, the different communities had, as formerly, to create and operate small industrial activities (SME) such as printing (Averbode Abbey, Tongerlo Abbey, Berne Abbey), farming (Kinshasa, Ireland, Postel Abbey), cheese-making (Postel Abbey), running schools (Averbode Abbey, Berne Abbey, United States, Australia), agreements with breweries (Tongerlo Abbey, Postel Abbey, Park Abbey, Leffe, Grimbergen), retreat centres (nearly everywhere), astronomical observatories (Mira, Grimbergen), artistic bookbinding (in Oosterhout), forestry (Schlägl Abbey, Geras Abbey, Slovakia) and pilgrimages (Conques).[7]

According to the Premonstratentian website, there are some 1000 male and 200 female members of the Order.[1] The Feast of All Norbertine Saints and Blesseds is celebrated internally on Nov. 13.[8]


Norbertine canonesses in Imbramowice, Poland.

The Order has several abbeys of women who, though technically called canonesses, followed the life of an enclosed religious order and are therefore more commonly termed Norbertine nuns. Like the Norbertine communities for men, those for women are autonomous. Unusually, within the religious communities of the Catholic Church, the Norbertine Order has always seen the spiritual life of the canonesses as being on an equal footing with that of its priests and lay brothers. In the Middle Ages, the Premonstratentians even had a few double monasteries,[9] where men and women lived in cloisters located next to each other as part of the same abbey, the communities demonstrating their unity by sharing the church building. Today, it is common for a foundation of canonesses to have links not only with other canonesses, but also a community of canons.

On January 29, 2011, a canonry of the canonesses, the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, was established with the solemn religious profession of the first nine canonesses at the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, Fresno, California. The priory is located in Tehachapi, California, and by 2013 had grown to 26 members in all.[10] The community was first founded as a public association of the faithful by the Norbertine canons of St. Michael's Abbey, Orange County, California. It is the first canonry of Norbertine canonesses founded in North America.

Premonstratensian Rite

The Premonstratensians were among the religious orders with their own rite who kept this rite after Pope Pius V suppressed such rites with a continuous tradition of less than two hundred years. The Premonstratensian Rite was especially characterized by a ritual solemnity. The Premonstratensian Rite was also characterized by an emphasis on the Paschal mystery unique among the Latin rites. This was especially seen in the solemnity with which the daily conventional high mass and office was celebrated during the Easter octave, especially vespers which concluded with a procession to the baptismal font, a practice paralleled among the Latin rites only in similar processions still found in the Ambrosian Rite. Another unique practice of the Premonstratensian Rite was the celebration of a daily votive mass in honor of Mary, mother of Jesus in each of its abbeys and priories.


As each abbey or priory is autonomous, practices and apostolates differ; some are contemplative in character whilst others are highly active in pastoral ministry. However, each is guided by the Rule of Saint Augustine as well as the Constitutions established by the General Chapter which is held every 6 years. Demonstrating Norbertine unity, the general Chapter includes representatives from both male and female communities. The head of the Order, termed Abbot General, resides in Rome, and he is assisted in his duties by the Definitors (High Council) as well as commissions established for various aspects of the Order's life such as Liturgy and inter-abbey communications.


As of 2012, there were Premonstratensian abbeys or priories throughout the world: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA.[1]

There are seven circaries (Premonstratensian term for an ecclesiastical province[11]):[12]

  • Anglica Circary:
  • St Norbert Priory, Queens Park, Perth, Australia
  • St. Philip's Priory, Chelmsford, England[13]
  • Holy Trinity Abbey, Kilnacrott, Ireland
  • St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, Wisconsin[4]
    • Holy Spirit House of Studies, Chicago
  • Daylesford Abbey, Paoli, Pennsylvania, USA[6]
  • Immaculate Conception Priory, Middletown, Delaware, USA
  • St. Michael's Abbey, California, USA[14]
  • St. Moses the Black, Jackson, Mississippi, USA[4]
  • Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey, New Mexico, USA[15]
  • St.Norbert Abbey, Jamtara, Jabalpur (M.P), India
    • St. Norbert Priory, Indara, India
    • St. Norbert Priory, Mumbai, India
    • St. Norbert Study House, Nagpur, India
    • Norbertine Study House, Pune, India
  • Quasi-Cannonry of Kerala, India
  • Cannonry of Manathawady, India
    • St. Norbert's Priory, Cape Town, South Africa
  • St. Norbert Priory, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Gallica Circary
  • Priory La Cambre, Brussels
  • Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe, Dinant
  • St. Joseph's Priory, Saint-Constant, Canada
  • Abbey of St. Michael, Frigolet, France
  • Abbey of St. Martin, Mondaye, France
    • Priory of St. Foy, Conques, France
    • Prieuré Notre-Dame des Neiges, Laloubère, France
  • La Lucerne Abbey
  • Priory of Our Lady of the Assumption, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Hungarica Circary
  • Abbey of St. Michael the Archangel, Csorna, Hungary
  • Gödöllő Canonry, Gödöllő
  • Szent István vértanúról nevezett Váradhegyfoki Prépostság, Romania
  • Portuguesa Circary
  • Priory of St. Norbert, Itinga, Brazil
    • Priory of Natal
    • Pfarre Gatterhölzl, Vienna, Austria
  • St Norbert Abbey, Jaú, Brazil
    • Parish of São Paulo
  • Montes Claros Priory
    • Mirabela, priory parish
    • Casa de Contagem


Notable members

Norbertine Saints include, in addition to St Hermann Joseph von Steinfeld (feast May 24) and St Norbert (+1134, f. Jun. 6), Adrian and James of Middleburg, martyrs (+1572, f Jul. 9), Evermode of Ratzeburg (+1178, f. Feb. 17), Frederick of Hallum (or of Mariengaarde) (+1175, f. Feb. 4), Gilbert of Neuffontaines (or of Cappenberg) (+1152, f. Oct. 26), Godfrey of Cappenberg (+1127, f. Jan. 14), Isfrid (Isfried) of Ratzeburg (+1204, f. Jun. 15), Ludolph of Ratzeburg (+1250, f. April 16), and Siard of Mariengaarde (+1230, f. Nov. 14). Norbertine Blesseds include Beatrice of Engelport (+1275, f. Mar. 12/13) Bronislava of Poland (or of Zwierzniec) (+1259, f. Aug. 30), Gerlach of Valkenburg (+1172, Jan. 5), Gertrude of Aldenberg (Altenburg), Abbess (+1297, f. Aug. 13), Hugh of Fosse (+1164, f. Feb. 10), Hroznata of Teplá (+1217, f. Jul. 14), Jakob Kern of Geras (+1924, f. Oct. 20), Oda of Bonne Rivreuille (+1158, f. Apr. 20), Peter-Adrian Toulorge of Blanchelande, Martyr (+1793, f. Oct. 13), and Ricvera of Clastres (+1136, f. Oct. 29).

Norbertines celebrate "all Norbertine Saints and Blesseds" on Nov. 13.[22]


St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, United States is the only institution of higher education sponsored by the Order. Elsewhere they also sponsor/operate schools or serve in pastoral care capacities at parish schools.

Schools founded or sponsored by the order include:


Northern Ireland's Historical Abuse Inquiry investigated reports that Brendan Smyth, a member of the Norbertine Order, was allowed to continue paedophilia for more than four decades, even after Smyth himself had admitted in 1994, the same year that he was jailed for his crimes, that "Over the years of religious life it could be that I have sexually abused between 50 and 100 children. That number could even be doubled or perhaps even more."[24][25][26] Reviewers of the case differ as to whether there was a deliberate plot to conceal Smyth's behaviour, incompetence by his superiors at Kilnacrott Abbey, or some combination of factors.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Who are the Premonstratensians?".
  2. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Premonstratensians" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Geudens, Francis Martin. "Premonstratensian Canons", The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 16 June 2013
  4. ^ a b c "Saint Norbert of Xanten History at Saint Norbert Abbey in De Pere, Wisconsin". Archived from the original on 2013-11-06.
  5. ^ Staley, Tony. "Home to a Living History", St. Norbert College Magazine, Fall 2009
  6. ^ a b "Daylesford Abbey". 2010. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  7. ^ Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe. "Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe".
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Norbertine Sisters in the World", Premontre Sisters
  10. ^ "Norbertine nuns' monastery expansion blessed".
  11. ^ 'circary' definition, English-German Dictionary.
  12. ^ "Places".
  13. ^ "St. Philip's Priory, Chelmsford". 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  14. ^ "St. Michael's Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers". St. Michael's Abbey. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22.
  15. ^ "Welcome to the Norbertine Community of New Mexico!". 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Jasov - Slovakia - Slovakia travel guide". 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Stift Geras | community". 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Startseite - Prämonstratenser Chorherren Stift Wilten, Innsbruck". 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.(in German)
  19. ^ Putte, F. vande & C. Carton (1849). Chronicon et cartularium abbatiae Sancti Nicolai Furnensis, ordinis Premonstratensis (in French). Bruges: VandeCasteele-Werbrouck.
  20. ^ "Houses of Premonstratensian canons: Abbey of Bayham", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2 (1973), pp. 86-89. Date accessed: 16 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Canons Regular of Prémontré,". 2011. Archived from the original on 20 May 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "About Us — History". Cardinal Gracias High School. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Brendan Smyth: Paedophile priest told doctor he may have sexually abused hundreds of children". Daily Mirror. 23 June 2015.
  25. ^ "Warning before paedophile priest's ordination ignored". The Irish News. 23 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
  26. ^ "Profile of Father Brendan Smyth". BBC. 15 March 2010.
  • Wolfgang Grassl, Culture of Place: An Intellectual Profile of the Premonstratensian Order. Nordhausen: Bautz, 2012.

External links

Børglum Abbey

Børglum Abbey was an important Premonstratensian abbey of medieval Denmark, located in Børglum parish, in the commune of Hjørring, approximately five kilometers east of Løkken in north central Jutland (Region Nordjylland) between the 12th-century until reformation.

Grant Desme

Gregory Grant Desme (born April 4, 1986, in Bakersfield, California) is a professional baseball center fielder who is a free agent. Desme was a junior right fielder at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, when he was drafted in 2007 by the Oakland Athletics. After a 30-30 2009 season in the minors and being named Arizona Fall League MVP, Desme retired. Desme came out of retirement in 2018 to play with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Hayton of Corycus

Hayton of Corycus (also Hethum, Het'um, and variants; in Armenian known as Հեթում Պատմիչ Hetʿowm Patmičʿ "Hethum the Historian" ; c.1240 - c.1310-1320) was a medieval Armenian nobleman, monk and historiographer.

Hayton is the author of La Flor des Estoires d'Orient ("Flower of the Histories of the East", in Latin Flos historiarum terre Orientis), a historiographical work about the history of Asia, especially about the Muslim conquests and the Mongol invasion, which he dictated at the request of Pope Clement V in 1307, while he was at Poitiers. The Old French original text was recorded by one Nicolas Faulcon, who also prepared a Latin translation. The work was widely disseminated in the Late Middle Ages and was influential in shaping western European views of the Orient.The work consists of four books of unequal lengths, the main part being contained in book 3, after which the entire work is sometimes referred to as the "History of the Tartars". Book 1 gives an overview of the geography and history of Asia. Book 2 gives an account of the "Lordship of the Saracens", i.e. the Muslim conquests of the 7th century and the succeeding Caliphates. Book 3 comprises the bulk of the work, giving a history of the Mongols and the Mongol invasions.

Book 4 discusses a proposed alliance of Christendom with the Mongol Empire to the end of a renewed crusade in the Holy Land.

For his history of the Mongols Hayton names an Estoires des Tartars ("History of the Tartars") as his source for the time until the reign of Möngke Khan (1250s), while for more recent events, he relies on the accounts by his great-uncle, king Hethum I, and on his own experiences. He is also informed by western sources on the history of the Crusades, and most likely draws on the travelogues of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine and Marco Polo.

Hermann Joseph

Saint Hermann Joseph, O.Praem., (ca. 1150 – 7 April 1241) was a German Premonstratensian canon regular and mystic. Never formally canonized, in 1958 his status as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church was formally recognized by Pope Pius XII.

Iorwerth (bishop of St David's)

Iorwerth, O.Praem., was formerly abbot of the house of Premonstratensian canons regular at Talyllychan in Wales. He was elected to the vacant Diocese of St David's in 1215.

Jan van der Lans

Johannes (Jan) Maria van der Lans (10 July 1933 – 6 July 2002) was a Dutch professor in the psychology of religion at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (now called Radboud University Nijmegen).

Johann Zahn

Johann Zahn (29 March 1641, Karlstadt am Main – 27 June 1707) was the seventeenth-century German author of Oculus Artificialis Teledioptricus Sive Telescopium (Würzburg, 1685). This work contains many descriptions and diagrams, illustrations and sketches of both the camera obscura and magic lantern, along with various other lanterns, slides, projection types, peepshow boxes, microscopes, telescopes, reflectors, and lenses. As a student of light, Zahn is considered the most prolific writer and illustrator of the camera obscura.

Zahn was a canon of the Premonstratensian monastery of Oberzell near Würzburg (see Kloster Oberzell).

The first camera that was small and portable enough to be practical for photography (that is, actually capturing the image on some sort of medium) was envisioned by Zahn in 1685, though it would be almost 150 years before technology caught up to the point where this was possible to actually build (see History of the camera).

In Oculus Artificialis, Zahn's comprehensive description of the magic lantern (along with twelve other different lanterns) includes some of these lanterns showing for the first time lens covers. This was a very important evolution in the history of the camera, because it meant that the screen could be kept dark while the operator changed the slide.

Zahn used the magic lantern, whose invention he credited to Athanasius Kircher, for anatomical lectures.

He also illustrated a large workshop camera obscura for solar observations using the telescope and scioptric ball. Zahn also includes an illustration of a camera obscura in the shape of a goblet, based on a design described (but not illustrated) by Pierre Hérigone. Zahn also designed several portable camera obscuras, and made one that was 23 inches long. He demonstrated the use of mirrors and lenses to erect the image, enlarge and focus it.

Zahn is also the author of a compendium of mathematics and natural history, titled Specula Physico-Mathematico-Historica Notabilium ac Mirabilium Sciendorum (1696).


Křtiny is a market town (městys) in Blansko District, South Moravian Region, Czech Republic, lying on boundary of the Moravian Karst nature reserve. It has 792 inhabitants (2006).

The town is an old Marian pilgrimage site (administered by the Premonstratensians) and is dominated by a Baroque pilgrim complex; the original project by Jan Santini Aichel was modified during construction and was not fully completed. It comprises the Church of the Holy Name of Mary (houses a Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary), St. Anne Chapel, Provost Residence and other buildings (see aerial view).

Martyrs of Gorkum

The Martyrs of Gorkum (Dutch: Martelaren van Gorcum) were a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics and friars who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle (or Den Briel) by militant Dutch Calvinists during the 16th century religious wars—specifically, the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, which developed into the Eighty Years' War.

Mirasole Abbey

Mirasole Abbey (Italian: Abbazia di Mirasole) is a monastery in the comune of Opera near Milan, Lombardy, Northern Italy. The monastery was initially founded by the Humiliati in the 13th-century. The buildings have had diverse uses over the centuries. Since 2013, houses a community of the Premonstratensians.

Norbert of Xanten

Saint Norbert of Xanten (c. 1075 – 6 June 1134) (Xanten-Magdeburg), also known as Norbert Gennep, was a bishop of the Catholic Church, founder of the Premonstratensian order of canons regular, and is venerated as a saint.

Odo Ydonc

Odo Ydonc was a 13th-century Premonstratensian prelate. The first recorded appearance of Odo was when he witnessed a charter by Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick, on 21 July 1225. In this document he is already Abbot of Dercongal, incidentally the first Abbot of Dercongal to appear on record.Dercongal Abbey (also Holywood Abbey, from Latin Sancti Nemoris), which is Gaelic or Irish Doire Conghaill, "oak-wood of St Congall", was a recently established house of Premonstratensian canons, perhaps founded by Alan, Lord of Galloway, but Odo's appearance is the first time we know about the abbey's existence. An abbot of Dercongal, unnamed but surely Odo, was recorded as a papal mandatory in a document of Paisley Abbey on 18 December the same year (1225).It is unknown from what point or until what point Odo held the abbacy of Dercongal, but by 11 March 1235, when he next appeared on the record, he was merely a former abbot, and thus had been demoted in the intervening period. This appearance in the sources occurs because the Prior of Whithorn and the canons of Whithorn Priory chose to elect Odo as their own candidate to succeed Bishop Walter as Bishop of Galloway; as Odo was a fellow Premonstratensian and a canon of Whithorn, he was thus "one of them" and a natural choice.Unfortunately for Odo, King Alexander II of Scotland had his own candidate, another former abbot, Gilbert of Glenluce, Cistercian ex-Abbot of Glenluce, now monk of Melrose Abbey; Alexander was recently crushing a revolt in Galloway, and probably took an interest in the new bishop for this reason. Appeals to both the Archbishop of York and the Pope himself were forwarded, and despite the protests of the canons and their argument about the "illegality" of Gilbert's election (who appears to have been supported only by Michael, the archdeacon of Galloway), Gilbert secured consecration by Archbishop Walter de Gray at York on 2 September.An investigation by Pope Gregory IX had already been started on 9 June, in which the Pope had issued a mandate to the Bishop of Rathlure, the Bishop of Raphoe, and the Archdeacon of Raphoe, authorising them to investigate the legality of Odo's election, and if they found it to have accorded with canon law, to consecrate him as Bishop of Galloway and compel Gilbert to restore everything he had taken; the results of this investigation are not known. Odo was still claiming the bishopric on 19 June 1241, but disappeared from the records after this date. It is not known when Odo died.

Prior of Whithorn

The Prior of Whithorn was the head of the monastic community at Whithorn Priory, attached to the bishopric of Galloway at Whithorn. It was originally an Augustinian establishment, but became Premonstratensian by the time of the second or third known prior. As most of the priors of Whithorn appear to be native Galwegian Gaels, it would appear that most priors before the 16th century at least were drawn from region, something unusual in medieval Scotland. The following is a list of abbots and commendators.

Robert John Cornell

Robert John Cornell O.Praem (December 16, 1919 – May 10, 2009) was a Roman Catholic priest and American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Wisconsin from 1975 to 1979.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.