Born in 1207, St. Albert the Great became a Dominican during the early years of the Dominican Order, which was primarily occupied at that time with battling the Albigensian heresy. Like many other men, Albert came to the Order through the influence of Bl. Jordan of Saxony, St. Dominic’s successor as Master of the Order, who attracted university students to the Order wherever he went. So, it was also a time of very rapid growth for the young Order.
Among all of his contemporaries, many of whom were surely very learned and bright, Albert was unique. Even among the great saints of the Church, relatively few earn the title “the Great.” Albert was especially competent in mechanics and applied sciences, as well as the natural sciences (as opposed to the abstract sciences of philosophy and theology). He recognized nature as a creation of God and helped the discipline of natural sciences to grow by encouraging fellow Dominicans to look to nature as a place where truth can be found. He was a very thorough investigator of the natural world and contributed much new knowledge about the way the physical world is designed.
Today, St. Albert is best know as the professor and colleague of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas was very quiet and reserved, nicknamed “The Dumb Ox” by his classmates, but St. Albert could see his potential greatness and encouraged it. Together they examined the philosophy of Aristotle, which had been re-introduced to Europe by Arabic scholars. They worked to re-translate Aristotle from the original Greek into Latin, in order to correct Averroes’ erroneous Arabic translations. Both of these saints were great in their own ways, although St. Thomas Aquinas is better known. It is said that St. Albert the Great possessed a great humility, so he was most likely very content to have his pupil outshine him.
St. Albert was chosen as the patron of our priory because of our proximity to the University of Dallas.
St. Albert is Patron Saint of natural sciences in the Church, but his knowledge spanned nearly every subject–hence his title, Doctor Universalis, the Universal Doctor. He was well known in his time as a peacemaker and settler of disputes. He lived for most of the 13th century, dying in the year 1280.