November 14, 2017

Saint Albert the Great, the "Doctor Universalis"

Saint Albert the Great

On November 15th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Albert the Great. The son of a German nobleman, he was studying at Padua when the Master General of the Dominicans, Jordan of Saxony, succeeded in attracting him to that Order. He was to become one of the Dominicans' greatest glories. After taking his degrees at the University of Paris, he taught philosophy and theology at Paris and then in Cologne. Saint Thomas Aquinas was among his pupils.

St. Albert, the "light of Germany," called the Great because of his encyclopedic knowledge, was born in 1193 at Lauingen, Donau. He joined the newly-founded Order of Preachers in 1223. Soon he was sent to Germany where he taught in various cities. In 1248 he received the honor of Master in Sacred Theology at Paris. Throngs attended his lectures, drawn by his piety and towering intellect.

In 1254, Albert was chosen provincial of his Order in Germany. For a time, he lived at the court of Pope Alexander II, who in 1260, made him the bishop of Regensburg. Two years later, however, he returned to his community at Cologne. There he acted as counselor, peacemaker and shepherd of souls with enormous success. He died at the age of 87. Pope Pius XI numbered him among the saints on December 16, 1931, solemnly declaring him a Doctor of the universal Church.

Much of his life was given to writing. His twenty-one folio volumes are devoted to commentaries on Aristotle (whose works were just then becoming known in the West) and the Bible. Legend credits him with drawing the ground plans for the cathedral at Cologne. Albert, the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages, was outstanding in the disciplines of natural science, theology, and philosophy.

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith, grant, we pray, that we may so adhere to the truths he taught, that through progress in learning we may come to a deeper knowledge and love of you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen. Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.

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