Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

St. Godfrey (January 14)

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St. Godfrey (January 14)

Godfrey was born in 1097. His father was Count Godfrey of Cappenberg and his mother Beatrice of Schweinfurt. He married Jutta, daughter of the Count of Arnsberg. In a quarrel between the bishop of Münster and the emperor, Godfrey sided with the bishop. But when Münster was beleaguered and destroyed in 1121, Godfrey was deeply disillusioned, partly on account of the behavior of his own soldiers, and he decided to turn his castle into a monastery. He and his brother Otto met St. Norbert in the same year and Godfey was deeply impressed by the apostolic life preached and lived by Norbert. In the beginning his wife Jutta and his brother Otto were opposed to his intentions. The greatest opposition, however, came from Godfey’s father-in-law, the Count of Arnsberg. At a gathering in Utrecht Count Frederick of Swabia joined Godfrey who sold him two castles. On May 31, 1122 Godfrey was able to give Norbert the castle of Cappenberg. The bishop of Münster blessed the monastery on August fifteenth of the same year. This was the first foundation of the Order in Germany. Additional provostries were founded on Godfrey’s properties in Varlar and Ilbenstadt. Neither of the brothers, however, could enter “their monasteries” until 1124 because they first had to fulfill their duties of defense and, in Godfey’s case, obtain the consent of his wife Jutta. She later entered the monastery of canonesses in the lower monastery in Cappenberg. Godfrey stayed for the time being in Cappenberg where he founded a hospital for the poor and served the poorest with great humility.
Norbert called both brothers to Prémontré in 1125 and they were ordained acolytes. When Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg he called Godfrey to his side in 1126. It was a great trial for Godfrey because he could not get used to life at the episcopal court and became ill. With the approval of Norbert he went to Ilbenstadt. A few days after his arrival he died on January 13, 1127, scarcely 30 years old. Godfrey was a man of peace. During the altercation with his father-in-law he expressed his wish to die as a martyr. In the last months of his life he often expressed his wish to die. 
His relics were divided between Ilbenstadt and Cappenberg in 1148. Pope Paul V approved his veneration at Cappenberg in 1614 and Pope Benedict XIII extended it to the whole Order on January 22/March 8, 1728. After the sad times following the secularization, Emmanuel von Ketteler, bishop of Mainz, began promoting the veneration of Godfrey anew in 1862.

Almighty God, who strengthened St. Godfrey, so that, despising everything he possessed, he might happily attain to You, grant that we too, renouncing the riches of the world and its glory, may find our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

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