Return of the White Canons

The Modern Norbertines in England

Aidan Nichols

Return of the White Canons tells the little-known story of the valiant attempts by Canons Regular of Prémontré (Premonstratensians or 'Norbertines') to restore the fortunes of their Order, once widespread in England and, to a lesser extent, Scotland, in Queen Victoria's Britain.

With new archival research in France and Belgium, as well as in the United Kingdom, this is a narrative much of whose detail has not been recorded before.

Aidan Nichols gives a brief overview of the Order's twelfth-century origins and history up to and including the modern period. The attempts at re-implantation are described in the context of the two European abbeys (Tongerlo and Frigolet) responsible for nurturing these new seedlings in a Protestant land. Against the background of the Catholic Revival, Recusant gentry and aristocracy, Tractarian converts, and an Empress in exile were only too eager to promote their own spiritual projects, taking advantage of the numerous vocations to Religious life in post-Revolutionary Belgium and the expulsion of the 'Unregistered Congregations' by an anti-clerical regime in France. Though the results sometimes verged on the tragi-comic, much excellent pastoral work was done, especially by the more successful foundations, one of which found itself caught up in the literary and theological history of England.

The book ends by considering current and future possibilities now open to the successors of the historic figures here portrayed.

Aidan Nichols is a well-known writer on Catholic theology and culture with ecumenical interests, notably in Russian Orthodoxy. A Dominican friar for over half a century, he explains the genesis of his interest in the Norbertines in his newly published autobiography,
Apologia: A Memoir (Gracewing, 2023).

978 085244 833 5

136 pages   


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