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Summary of St Jarlath, bishop. Very little is known of Jarlath. His first foundation was in Clonfush near Tuam. Later he founded a monastery in Tuam. He is said to have taught Brendan of Clonfert and Colman of Cloyne. Jarlath is the abbot-bishopassociated with the archdiocese of Tuam that includes parts of the counties of Mayo, Galway and Roscommon.

jarlath Patrick Duffy looks at what is known about him.

From a Wealthy Family?
Not much is known about the life of Jarlath (Irish Iarfhlaith). He became a disciple of St Enda. The monasteries he founded, first at Cluain ois and Later at Tuam were renowned for their scholarship and learning.

However, Jarlath is regarded as the founder and patron saint of the archdiocese of Tuam in Galway, Ireland. From the second syllable of his name, fhlaith, meaning “lord”, it could be taken that he came from a wealthy family; the meaning of the first syllable is unknown.

Cloonfush and Reputation
arlath is said to have studied under Benen (Benignus), a disciple of St Patrick, and under St Enda at Aran Isalnd. The Féilire of Aengus tells us that he was noted for his mortification, fasting, and prayer. He own first monastic foundation was at Cloonfush, some miles east of Tuam. Among his disciples there were Brendan of Clonfert and Colman of Cloyne.

While Jarlath was travelling in his chariot west from Cloonfush, the wheel of the chariot broke. A prophecy of Saint Brendan of Clonfert had foretold that this place where the wheel of the chariot would break would be the place where he would meet death. So Jarlath decided to found another monastic community here. From this incident, the chariot wheel has become the symbol of the town of Tuam.

The diocese was established by the twelfth-century synods of Rathbreasail and Kells, and subsequently became an archdiocese absorbing into it two other medieval dioceses: Annaghdown and Mayo.

Death and Feast
Jarlath died around 550. His feast is on 6th June.

 St Jarlath's window Tuam Cathedral

St Jarlath’s Window, Tuam Cathedral

Summary of St Norbert, bishop: Born in the Rhineland (Germany) about 1080; died at Magdeburg on this day in 1134. A cleric in minor orders, he converted from a comfortable life in 1115, was ordained to the presbyterate, and took up a life of poverty. Founded a community of canons at Prémontré (France), austere in discipline and active in pastoral ministry. Later, as archbishop of Magdeburg, he resisted the alienation of Church property. Noted for his zealous reform of clerical life and for the example of his attachment to the values of the gospel.

norbert1The image is of a commemorative postage stamp depicting St Norbert, who was the founder of the canons of Prémontré, and an indefatigable campaigner against heresy, schism and corruption in the Church. Patrick Duffy traces St Norbert’s life.

Youth and Conversionnorbert
orn 1080 at Xanten in Lorraine, France, on the east bank of the Rhine, Norbert belonged to a noble family related to the Emperor, and worked at the Emperor’s court. Although he became a subdeacon and was canon at 30, he lived quite a worldly and pleasure-filled life until a violent thunderstorm led to his conversion. Influenced by the Benedictine monks of Siegburg, he renounced wealth for poverty, and was ordained a priest in 1115.

Enthusiastic Reformer 
he enthusiasm of Norbert’s reforming spirit did not endear him to the clergy of Xanten, who denounced him. However, he travelled widely as an itinerant preacher and was encouraged in this by Pope Gelasius II (1119-20) who was then in Languedoc. He was soon requested by the Bishop of Cambrai to go and combat heresies in the Low Countries where the sacred species had been stolen and profaned. Because of this, Norbert as a saint has been proclaimed the Apostle of Antwerp, and the feast of his triumph over the sacramentarian heresy is celebrated in the archdiocese of Brussels-Mechelen on 11th July.

Foundation at Prémontré
chance meeting with the young priest Hugh of Fosse, then in the service of Bishop Burchard of Cambray, and appointed to nurse Norbert while convalescing from illness, led to the first foundation of the Norbertine Order in the valley of Prémontré near Laon in Northern France. Here Norbert, Hugh and a few monks lived at first in huts of wood and clay.

Forty Companions Join
Within a few months 40 companions joined them and on Christmas Day 1121, they made profession of vows, choosing a very austere regime of according to a rule of St Augustine. This was the beginning of the Canons of Prémontré of which Hugh became the first abbot. Norbert was in close contact with and was influenced by the Cistercian founder, St Bernard. His own monks had a great influence on the reform of the conventual clergy in France and Germany. He also founded a third order of Norbertines for lay people.

Archbishop of Magdeburg
In 1126 while he was at the Diet of the Holy Empire at Speyer, Germany, the citizens of Magdeburg disagreed on the election of a new archbishop. In the end they elected Norbert by a unanimous vote. This gave him more influence in the cause of reform in the Church at large. Church property that had been given over to families was restored to the Church. And the example of his monks, some of whom he appointed to posts in the archdiocese, promoted the celibacy of the clergy.

Norb 2To Italy to Defend Pope Innocent II
With St Bernard, Norbert persuaded the Emperor Lothair II to resist schism in the papacy and to champion the cause of Innocent II as legitimate pope. To this end he joined the emperor in marching to Italy against Pietro di Leone who had installed himself in Rome as an antipope, calling himself Anacletus II. Norbert himself attempted to win Pietro over by persuasion.

Dies at Magdeburg
After these strenuous efforts, he returned to Magdeburg a sick man and died there in 1134. His tomb became famous by the number of miracles performed there. He was canonised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. His relics were transferred to the Premonstratensian abbey in Strahov, Bohemia in 1627.

Norbertine Canons in Ireland
he Norbertine Canons had one house in Ireland – the Abbey of the Most Holy Trinity and St Norbert – at Kilnacrott, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. (The last public Mass by a Norbertine priest in Ireland was celebrated on Sun. Sept, 25th, 2016. As of that date all public ministry by the Norbertines on the island ceased due a  failure in their policy of Child  Safeguarding practices.)

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