St. Norbert (1080-1134) and Prémontré
Norbert was a secular canon at the collegiate church of Xanten in Germany, but without being either an ordained priest or involved in pastoral service. He was deeply interested in the renewal movement of the Gregorian Reform that was transforming the Church in the 11th and 12th centuries. The chronicles of the era tell of his moment of conversion, not unlike that of St. Paul: Norbert's horse was struck by lightning while he was on a trip.
Whatever really happened, in 1115 Norbert broke radically with his past. He had himself ordained as a priest and became a wandering preacher. In the company of his disciples, both priests and laymen, he travelled across Europe and France. At St. Giles, the pope gave him permission to preach anywhere he wanted to. Many people were still very distrustful of this "poor men of Christ" that had no tie to established authority and who lived in extreme austerity.
By way of the bishop of Laon, pope Callixte II asked Norbert to channel his religious fervour into a more stable form. Norbert and his companions settled in the forest of Prémontré (Aisne region) where they took oath on Christmas of 1121.