History & Houses

Norbert of Xanten

Archbishop and Founder of the Canons Regular of Prémontré

At a time when the 11th-century Church was teeming with reforms, Norbert of Xanten (AD 1080-1134) was not only a man of deep prayer and spirituality, but also one aggressively interested in the needs of the people.

900 years later, the vision of St. Norbert continues to manifest worldwide through the ministries of his followers in a life that is “ever ancient, ever new.” Men and women who follow his example vow to seek Christ through living in community, sharing all things in holy poverty, celibacy, and obedience, and dedicating themselves to active ministry.

Our History

Abbot Pennings founds
St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere

In 1893, two Norbertine priests and one brother left Berne Abbey in Holland for a journey to northeastern Wisconsin. The Rev. Bernard Pennings, O. Praem., (pictured) led the group to take up pastoral work to the immigrants from Belgium, Holland and France who had settled in Wisconsin’s peninsula.

One year later, in 1894, the little group was augmented by two additional Dutch Norbertines, allowing Pennings to accept a parish in De Pere, where St. Norbert College would be developed, and founding what would become St. Norbert Abbey.

The De Pere Norbertines continued to serve the church in northeastern Wisconsin in education, parishes, broadcasting (WBAY TV) and its Norbertine Center for Spirituality. In the mid-1960s, a group of De Pere Norbertines also began to serve the poor in Lima, Peru.

Now, the vision of St. Norbert continues through Norbertine communities across the world. The Norbertines dedicate themselves to prayer, sharing a common life and serving local needs.

Dependent House of St. Norbert Abbey

Holy Spirit House of Studies

Holy Spirit House of Studies in Chicago, Illinois, is a place where Norbertines reside, including some who use it as their home location when ministering in the Chicago area. Norbertines in formation also study theology while living here.

Daughter Abbeys

Two houses originally founded by St. Norbert Abbey have become independent canonries of the worldwide Norbertine Order

Daylesford Abbey

In 1963, Our Lady of Daylesford in Paoli, Pennsylvania, was recognized as a daughter abbey of the De Pere foundation. In 1997, Daylesford Abbey became two distinct canonries — one headquartered in Paoli and the other in Claymont, Delaware.

For more about Daylesford Abbey, please click here.

Santa María de la Vid Abbey

In 2012, Santa María de la Vid in Albuquerque, New Mexico, became the second independent daughter abbey of St. Norbert Abbey. Originally opened as a priory in 1985, Norbertines of Santa María de la Vid Abbey minister among the local Hispanic and Native American populations.

For more about Santa María de la Vid Abbey, please click here.