Premonstratensians

Norbert* founded the first community of Premonstratensians, or “White Canons,” at Premontré, near Laon, in 1120. The Premonstratensians adhered strictly to the Augustine Rule, but Norbert, a friend of the Cistercian monk, Bernard of Clairvaux,* also adopted certain monastic features and the Cistercian federal organization. Premontré was the order's mother-house, and its abbot was the order's abbot-general. Houses were arranged into regional and national circaria, which in turn constituted the “Grand Congregation.” The Premonstratensians undertook an “apostolic” role of parochial work and preaching, and their order rapidly spread throughout Christendom. Their missionaries played an important part in conversion and colonization east of the Elbe. At first they admitted women to double monasteries, but this practice had ceased by 1200. The Reformation and the French Revolution seriously affected the order's size.