François Petit's study of the spirituality of the medieval Premonstratensians (Norbertines), published in the aftermath of the Second World War, remains the definitive treatment of the early centuries of the order of canons founded by Norbert of Xanten in 1121. Petit’s attention to the texts, community life, and devotional practice of this Order of Prémontré anticipates recent scholarship in emphasizing the nexus of theology and lived religious experience. It demonstrates both the grandeur of Philip of Harvengt and Adam Scot as spiritual authors and the distinctiveness they share with others in the Norbertine tradition. This English translation renders Petit’s magisterial work, long out of print, accessible to a wide international audience.
Fr. François Petit, O. Praem. (1894-1990), was a canon of Mondaye Abbey in France and also served as prior of Longpont. His numerous books, articles, and textual editions established him as the foremost twentieth-century authority on the history and spirituality of the first generations of Premonstratensians. In 1975, along with Pierre-Marie Pontrué, he founded the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Prémontrées.