Saint of the Day for 15 November: St. Albert the Great
St. Albert the Great: The Life and Legacy of the Universal Doctor of the Church
St. Albert the Great
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
1206, Lauingen, Germany
November 15, 1280, Cologne, Germany
1622, Rome, Pope Gregory XV
1931, Rome, Pope Pius XI
God, our refuge and strength, you gave the holy bishop and doctor of the Church Albert the strength to direct human knowledge to eternal wisdom. Strengthen and protect through his intercession our faith in the spiritual confusion of our days. Give us the breadth of his mind, so that even the progress of the sciences may help us to know you more deeply and come closer to you. Grant that we may grow in the knowledge of the Truth, which you yourself are, so that one day we may contemplate you face to face together with all the angels. We pray to you through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Patron saint of
Castelletto di Branduzzo
St. Albert, called Magnus, bishop and doctor of the Church, who, having entered the Order of Preachers, taught philosophy and theology in Paris by word and writings. A teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, he managed to unite in admirable synthesis the wisdom of the saints with human knowledge and the science of nature. He received the See of Regensburg in spite of himself, where he worked assiduously to strengthen peace among peoples, but after a year he preferred the poverty of the Order to all honor and in Cologne, Germany, he fell piously asleep in the Lord.
The Saint and Mission
St. Albert the Great, celebrated for his broad intellectual interests that ranged from philosophy to natural science, represents a unique exemplar of how the Christian mission can be embodied through the pursuit of knowledge and teaching. His life was distinguished not only by the breadth of his knowledge, but also by the way he used it to deepen and spread understanding of the faith.
Albert lived at a time when knowledge was beginning to flourish in new and surprising ways. As a Dominican, he embodied the order’s ideal of combining preaching with study. His mission was to explore all branches of human knowledge and then integrate them into a framework of understanding that would serve revealed truth and the edification of the Church.
In this sense, his mission was not limited to the chair or the pulpit, but also extended to laboratories and libraries. He saw knowledge as a way to approach God, teaching that the search for truth in all its forms was a path to reveal the order and beauty of divine creation. His intellectual curiosity was fueled by a deep faith and a desire to guide others into a deeper understanding of the world and their creator.
In addition to being an intellectual, Albert was also a pastor. His commitment to teaching and guiding students reflected his pastoral concern for the integral formation of people. He was deeply committed to forming individuals who were not only intellectually competent but also spiritually mature, able to use their knowledge in the service of the Church and society.
Finally, St. Albert the Great’s mission was characterized by a strong sense of humility. Despite his extraordinary erudition, he always remained faithful to the principle that all knowledge is limited before the mystery of God. This awareness made him an exceptionally effective teacher and mentor, able to inspire in his students, including St. Thomas Aquinas, a deep sense of wonder and adoration.
St. Albert the Great demonstrates that Christian mission can fully embrace intellectual inquiry, using knowledge and learning as tools to deepen understanding of faith and to guide others on a journey of discovery and worship. His legacy reminds us that mind and heart work together in the mission to witness to the truth and beauty of the Creator.
The Saint and Mercy
St. Albert the Great, known for his vast erudition and for being the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, is a shining example of how mercy can be intertwined with intellectual research and theological training. Although he is mainly celebrated for his contributions to philosophy and science, mercy was a recurring and profound theme in his thought and work.
Mercy, according to St. Albert, was not simply an act of emotional kindness or an instinctive response to the suffering of others. Rather, he saw it as a fundamental virtue that unites reason and compassion, knowledge and love. This conception of mercy permeated his approach to education and theology, emphasizing that true understanding of God and human nature must always lead to greater love and service toward others.
His life itself was an example of how mercy can be lived out in daily practice. As a teacher and preacher, Albert was known for his patience, kindness and commitment to guiding his students not only to academic knowledge but also to a deeper understanding and love for God and neighbor. His ability to explain complex concepts in an accessible way reflected his concern that wisdom be at the service of all, not just an intellectual elite.
Moreover, Albert actively engaged in the issues of his time, demonstrating that mercy was not an abstract concept for him but a guiding principle for action. His work as a mediator in various conflicts and his concern for social justice show that he understood mercy as an imperative for creating a more just and compassionate society.
The life and work of St. Albert the Great offer us a vision of mercy that goes beyond charity and immediate assistance. They show us that mercy is deeply linked to the search for truth, education and social engagement. His example encourages us to consider how our intellectual understanding and faith can be lived out in ways that concretely reflect God’s merciful love for each person.
Albertus Magnus, canonized and decorated with the title of Doctor by Supreme Pontiff Pius XI, was born in the early 13th century to the Counts of Bollstädt in Lauingen in Swabia, a historic region of Germany, where he spent his youth. He went to the University of Padua for higher intellectual training and was gained by Blessed Jordan of Saxony to the Dominican Order. Having completed his studies and taken religious vows, he was appointed as a professor in Cologne, Regensburg, Strasbourg and…