Written By: Summer Jarro, UF Student
Saint Albert the Great was born in Swabia, an area now located in Stuttgart, Germany, around 1200. He is the oldest son of a German lord of military rank. In 1254, he joined the Dominican Order and was the first German Dominican friar to receive a master’s degree in theology. He is considered today and during his lifetime as a great scholar and intellectual having attended the University of Padua and University of Paris. With his knowledge of theology he introduced Aristotle’s writings to Western civilization. Some of his writings include three volumes on the Books of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and two volumes on the Summa Theologiae. He he was renowned for his knowledge of other subjects including the natural sciences, physics, astronomy and geography to name a few. In his life he created 40 volumes of writings on an array of topics that were used as encyclopedias during the time.
Saint Albert the Great had a big influence in the Catholic Church most notably for his work changing the Church’s stance toward Aristotelian philosophy. He did so by creating paraphrases of most of Aristotle’s work, and when there seemed to be some missing Saint Albert produced them himself. This indicates his understanding of Aristotelian philosophy. Along with his student Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert was under the opinion that Aristotelian philosophy did not present a roadblock in developing a Christian perspective on natural philosophy. To present this to the Church, Saint Albert analyzed the way that Aristotle proposed natural philosophy. Saint Albert concluded that he method that Aristotle used was experimentally based and proceeds to draw conclusions through inductive reasoning – a method of starting with specific instances and reaching a general conclusion, and deductive reasoning – a method of starting with general principles to reach a specific conclusion.
Albert the Great died on Nov. 15, 1280 due to his deteriorating health. In 1931, Pope Pius XI made Albert a saint and doctor of the Church and in 1941, Pius made him the patron saint of the natural sciences. His feast day – a day set to celebrate and remember the legacy of certain saints in the Catholic Church – is November 15.