St. Albert the Great

Brother John Raymond
November 9, 1997

I was scheduled to do a book signing, at a local bookstore, for my book, "Catholics on the Internet" (Prima Publishing) on November 15 but it was cancelled. I had chosen this date on purpose because I had dedicated this book to St. Albert the Great and this is his feast day. My saint wasn't going to be thwarted! Barnes & Noble bookstore in Auburn, Massachusetts called and asked me to do a lecture/book signing on November 15 at 2 p.m. I think you can guess my answer.

Why did I dedicate this book to St. Albert the Great? Primarily because he is the patron Saint of scientists and was so interested in all knowledge that I believe if he were alive today he'd be using the Internet.

Who was he? I did not know the answer to that question until recently. I went to a Catholic grade school named after him. Yet, nobody ever told me about him. Usually he is remembered because he was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote the famous Summa Theologica. Because of the fame of his student St. Albert perhaps lost some credit for being brilliant himself.

He was born in 1206 in southern Germany. He attended the University of Padua where Blessed Jordan of Saxony recruited him at sixteen for the Dominican Order.

In Paris Albert obtained a doctor's degree. It was at this time that he began the tremendous task of gathering together the whole of human knowledge that embraced all branches of natural science, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, ethics, economics, politics and metaphysics. He would labor at this work for the next twenty years. Albert's scientific works fill 40 volumes. Albert had a great interest in nature. His greatest success was in the areas of botany and zoology.

His contemporaries called St. Albert "the Great" and this title referred to the scope and depth of his learning. As a great scientist, he stands beside Friar Roger Bacon, the Franciscan, who referred to some of Albert's works as "original sources." Albert was, in his own lifetime and for several centuries after, the authority on geography, physics, mineralogy, astronomy, biology and chemistry. He even traced the chief mountain ranges of Europe and explained how climate was influenced by latitude. Amazingly, St. Albert gave a superb description of the earth, which he was able to demonstrate as spherical. Ulrich Engelbert, a contemporary of Albert, called him "the wonder and the miracle of his age."

In theology St. Albert the Great is known for his great devotion to, and writings about, the Blessed Sacrament.

In 1256 St. Albert, along with his famous student Thomas Aquinas and the great Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure defended and won, in Rome, the right of the mendicant Orders to beg for financial support from the faithful. The Pope consecrated Albert a bishop and appointed him to the Archdiocese of Ratisbon.

In 1262, after Albert had settled the most urgent problems within his diocese he resigned and returned to teaching. He outlived his famous student, St Thomas, by several years and defended his writings when they were challenged.

He suffered a lapse of memory, his strong mind gradually becoming clouded. At the age of seventy-three he died among his religious brothers in Cologne on November 15, 1280. He was beatified in 1622. He was declared a Saint, a Doctor of the Church and given the title "Universal Doctor" by Pope Pius XI in 1931.


St. Albert the Great, we turn to you for intercession before the throne of God. Guide scientists in their technological advances to use their talents for the good of people and the glory of God. Help them to see that only those advances that are morally acceptable are those that should be pursued. Protect us from nuclear catastrophes, physician assisted suicides, euthanasia, birth control, abortion and all other sinful uses of technology.

We ask you to intercede for us that we may combine our intellectual talents with the practice of virtue as you did. Guide us in the correct use of technology at work and in our homes. Amen.