Albert the Great, St.

In the 13th century, Albert, the son of a German count joined the new mendicant order founded by St. Dominic, the order of preachers also known as the Dominicans. From the outset, this order was dedicated to teaching and so began to staff the cathedral schools and the new universities that had sprung up in the 12th and 13th centuries. Albert became a teacher extraordinary for the scope of his interests and his competence. He mastered not only theology and what we now call philosophy, but also physics, geography, astronomy, geology, chemistry and biology. He was a pioneer in all these disciplines as well as theology, for he was one of the first to incorporate the thought of Aristotle in Christian philosophy and theology. In this he paved the way for the work of his most famous pupil, St. Thomas Aquinas. While many know of St. Albert primarily as the mentor of Aquinas, he was a prodigy in his own right. His writings fill 38 volumes and his contemporaries were so astounded by his wisdm that they dubbed him "Albert the Great." Albert was beatified in the 17th century but it was not until the 20th that he was canonized and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931. While Albert, a son of Germany, taught all over Christendom at various times in his life, he spent the most time in Cologne, Germany, on the Rhine. His feast day in the Roman calendar is November 15.