Saint Albert the Great

15 ta' November

Saint Albert the Great was never a king, he was neither wealthy nor powerful. He was a Dominican friar who remains to be referred to as ‘The Great’ for a different reason.

There is no detail about his background. It is believed that he was born some time before 1200, and as he referred to himself as ‘Albert of Lauingen’ it is presumed that he was from this little  town that still exists today in Bavaria, in the South of Germany.
Albert was well educated as a young men, his father being a military lord in the army of the Emperor Frederick ll of Germany. Eventually he continued his education in the University of Padua where he became acquainted with the writings of Aristotle, an ancient Greek scientist and philosopher ( a person who studies about the meaning of life, reason, knowledge, values, mind, language) ad in no time he was lecturing for the Dominicans in Cologne and the surrounding regions, becoming well-known for his intellectual qualities in the academic circles of the day. St. Thomas Aquinas himself a renowned philosopher and theologian was one of his students.

While continuing with his deep interest in the philosophy of Aristotle, he also engaged in the teachings of the Muslim Scholars who had leading influence in Europe with regards to science, medicine and scholarship. Together with other leaders of the Dominican Order, he set up study programs and a University in Rome, still run today by the Dominicans and known as ‘The Angelicum’.
In 1254 he was chosen as Provincial (administrator) of the Dominican Order and in 1260, he was appointed Bishop of Regensburg, but he resigned three years later as he felt that he could not fit in the role.
He returned to the academic field, this time as mediator in disputes between individuals, between the bishop and the people of Cologne and on occasions as advisor for the Pope.
He died in November 1280.

So why is he called ‘The Great’?

During his lifetime he wrote volumes addressing various topics: geography, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, law, friendship.  He remains well-known for his teachings and for the establishment of study programs, of Colleges and University Studies.
He remains to be called ‘Great’, because for his time he was “ the teacher of everything there is to know”.

Learning and study were the underlying themes of Albert’s life. He was not only a theologian, a philosopher and spiritual writer, but also a scientist, an astrologer and a diplomat!

  • When we gradually train children to organize their study time and schoolwork we would also be helping them in developing skills to last a lifetime. It will enhance their ability to manage time fruitfully, to plan and get things done, giving priority to what needs to be done.
  • Set apart a study area at home, do away with clutter from school supplies. Encourage the children to organize the schoolbag on returning from school and pack it every night when they finish their homework, avoiding confusion in the morning. Do not be tempted to organize it for them! The little ones might need help. . . the older ones can do it on their own.
  • Consider setting a short time on the weekend to plan the week ahead, to balance time for schoolwork, study time, and other activities they enjoy. You might draft it on a chart on tablet/mobile so you can help them to keep track, change, adapt.
  • Always encourage every effort. Negative criticism causes emotional pain but not improvement.

As a bishop, Albert was affectionately nicknamed ‘Boots the bishop’ by his parishioners. He refused to ride a horse to go around his diocese, insisting to go everywhere on foot, an act of humility in accordance with the dictates of the Dominican Order.-

  • Talk about this feature in the life of Albert the Bishop.
  • Discuss with the children the benefit of walking, especially short distances, instead of using the car~ Identify locations where they can go on foot. ~ Explain how using the car less will mean less emissions that would in turn lessen air pollution.

For Family Prayer Time pray for the children’s teachers who have started teaching them during this scholastic year.

  • Explain to the children that there are still theologians today who teach in Universities, preparing young men to become priests in our parishes and prepare other men and women to talk/teach other people about God.
  • Allow moments of silence to ask God and the help of St. Albert with some aspects of their schoolwork that they are finding challenging.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.