The Catholic Defender: St. Albert the Great
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."
St. Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus) is a good example of a man who was raised by pious parents, whose father served as a military Lord in service to Emperor Frederick II. Young Albert was raised with high ideals teaching him to reach for the heavens. Being born around 1200 and from beautiful Bavaria, he was showing much promise in education when in 1223 he had an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
While hunting in the woods for a good catch for the family, young Albert was suddenly stopped by a most beautiful lady whose voice spoke with such beauty and whose appearance was like that of pure white reminding him of what he learned of the lord Jesus and His Transfiguration. The Lady identified herself as his Mother and was calling him to join a religious order.
This encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary would play a major role for the rest of St. Albert's life. He composed a prayer calling it "Mother of Grace"
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” For note, Mary, for you have found grace, not taken it as Lucifer tried to so. You have found grace, not lost it as Adam did. You have found favor with God because you desired and sought it. You have found uncreated Grace, that is, God himself became your Son, and with the Grace you have found and obtained every uncreated good.
St. Albert attended the University of Padua until 1223 when after his experience with the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, St. Albert joins the Dominican order. St. Albert's Father was not supportive of the Dominicans because of their vow of poverty influencing their members to give up all their possessions. Yet, in the end he caved to the wishes of the Holy Virgin who had called Albert to follow her Son, Jesus Christ in the simplest means available. Matthew 5:5 Jesus states, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Leaders of the Dominican order quickly began to see the special gifts that St. Albert demonstrated living in modest means. In 1228, he taught at German universities in Cologne, Regensburg, Strasbirg, and ultimately, the University of Paris.
By 1252, St. Albert would come into contact with St. Thomas Aquinas laying a great foundation for the future Saint. In Saint Albert's lifetime, he published 38 volumes of writings in physics, chemistry, biology, geography, astronomy, and geology. Aristotle's ancient works were found and St. Albert took many of Aristotle's writings and basically Christianized them developing principles of Christian ethics and theology and the "scholastic system". St. Thomas Aquinas would perfect this study in following years.
By 1254, St. Albert became the leader of the Dominican Order in Germany. Even so, he refused the regular honors being called "master" or "doctor" preferring to be simply called, "friar". He tried to hold onto his state of being humble never forgetting his promise to Our Lady in the Bavarian Alps. He did not want to fall in line with the Pharisees who Jesus gives the seven woes (Matthew 23).
Matthew 5:7 Jesus states, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." As a Priest, St. Albert heard many Confessions bringing back the Prodigals and teaching them to follow Christ many of them in universities. We need a thousand St. Alberts today in America as our Universities have gone 180 degrees the wrong way.
St. Albert served a time in Rome when he had to handle another title, "Office of master of the sacred place" serving as the Pope's canonist and personal aid in theology. In 1260, St. Albert was sent by the Holy See back to Regensburg where he served as Bishop. After two years, he found himself back to Cologne where he resumed his teaching and writing. Matthew 5:6 Jesus States, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." St. Albert never forgot the call of his Heavenly Mother.
In 1274, at the 14th Council of Lyons, Pope Gregory X presided over 300 Bishops, 60 abbots, and over a thousand prelates representing many Universities. St. Albert would attend this council that acted on the pledge of Byzantine emperor Michael VIII to reunite the Eastern church with the West. Another main issue was the concern of the Holy Land that was under threat by the Islamic terrorists of that time who sought world conquest.
St. Albert was known for settling disputes, encouraging peace among the people. Matthew 5:9 Jesus states, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." This was St. Albert's life!
In 1277, with the death of his famed pupil, St. Thomas, St. Albert spent the rest of his days defending his prized student. During the next year (1278), Albert became ill and suffered until he died on November 15, 1280.
Three years after his death, his body was found to be incorrupt but in 1483, only his skeleton remained. Matthew 5:8 Jesus States, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
St. Albert was beatified in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1931. The man who refused the titles "master" and "doctor" in his life time was named a "Doctor of the Church" as he now serves with the "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) in Heaven for eternity.
St. Albert is the patron saint of scientists and his feast day is November 15.