Saint Norbert and the Octave of Corpus Christi

Today is the feast of Saint Norbert. It also continues the “phantom octave” of Corpus Christi.

Two days ago, I mentioned the concurrence of Saint Francis Caracciolo and the Feast of Corpus Christi. The day Saint Francis Caracciolo died was the eve of Corpus Christi (which begins at First Vespers on the eve). In life, he was particularly instrumental in promoting Eucharistic adoration, it being among the works of the congregation he founded. As a friend of mine is wont to say — usually in mockery of absurd conspiracy theories — “Coincidence? I think not!” Only here, we have a divine concurrence: A saint particularly devoted to the Eucharist dies on the eve of the Feast in Its honor.

Today we have a similar concurrence. We are still in the Octave of that great Feast of the Lord’s Body and now comes Saint Norbert, who, among other of his great and manifest accomplishments, did battle with the evil heretic Tankelin (or Tanchelm), whose heresy was, among other things, a denial of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He was a sort of proto-Protestant, who would not exactly have a “common faith” with today’s Protestants, or with any of the other Proto-Protestants (e.g., Huss, Wycliffe, Waldo), either. (As Brother Francis used to say, “Truth unites, error divides.”)

Saint Norbert’s triumph over Tankelin and his championing of the Holy Eucharist are standard parts of Norbertine iconography, as we see:

St.Norbert MAnger

In this one, we see the heretic cowering beneath the glorified Eucharist. We also see Saint Norbert, with his episcopal staff, holding the Rule of Saint Augustine (which the Norbertines observe):


Here is a closeup of a statue, focusing on the heretic under Saint Norbert’s foot:



Lastly, this piece by Peter Paul Rubens shows all these elements (this page has a great writeup on the painting, telling also the story of the saint and the heretic):


As we continue our virtual celebration of the the Octave of Corpus Christi, I present several musical settings of Saint Thomas’ Lauda Sion Salvatorem (which many composers made settings of).

The first is by Tomás Luis de Victoria:


The second is by Palestrina:


Next up is by Dieterich Buxtehude:


And, finally, here is a very large (and long) Romantic era setting by Felix Mendelssohn: