jeudi 15 novembre 2012

Saint ALBERT le GRAND (ALBERTUS MAGNUS), religieux dominicain, évêque et Docteur de l'Église (« Le docteur universel »)


Saint Albert le Grand

Frère prêcheur, évêque de Ratisbonne, docteur de l'Église (+ 1280)

Jeune étudiant issu d'une famille noble de Bavière, les premières années de sa vie nous sont mal connues. Il naquit à Lauingen ville située sur les bords du Danube.

Il entra dans l'Ordre des Prêcheurs ou dominicains. Très doué pour les études, il ne passe pas inaperçu et très vite il est chargé d'enseignements tout en poursuivant ses recherches personnelles. Sa grande préoccupation est de rendre accessible au monde latin la pensée du philosophe grec Aristote, redécouvert à travers la tradition arabe de Cordoue. Il veut l'harmoniser avec la pensée chrétienne.

Professeur à Paris, il se prend d'amitié avec un de ses étudiants tout aussi doué que lui : saint Thomas d'Aquin, amitié fidèle et sans faille. Lorsqu'Albert se rend à Cologne poursuivre son enseignement, son disciple saint Thomas le suit. Quand son disciple sera accusé d'hérésie, le vieux maître Albert fera le voyage de Cologne pour prendre sa défense.

Il aurait aimé consacrer toute sa vie à la pensée et à l'enseignement. Mais il est religieux, alors par obéissance, il devient provincial dominicain et bientôt évêque de Ratisbonne (Regensburg).

Deux années suffisent pour qu'on se rende compte que le dévouement est insuffisant, alors on le rend à ses chères études. Son savoir est quasi encyclopédique au point qu'on veut en faire un maître de l'ésotérisme. Mais sa foi est encore plus grande que sa théologie et sa philosophie : "C'est pourquoi on le dit Notre Père, il n'est pas de prière douce et familière qui commence d'une manière plus familière et plus douce", écrit-il dans son commentaire de saint Matthieu.

Illustration: Albert le Grand, fresque à Trévise en Italie, par Thomas de Modène, en 1352.

L'Eglise l'a proclamé docteur de l'Eglise et patron des scientifiques.

- un internaute nous signale la sortie du livre: La Bible mariale, Albert le Grand, éd. Beya: Né dans le sud de l’Allemagne vers 1200 Albert le Grand, appelé « le Docteur universel », est une des figures les plus originales, les plus savantes et les plus prolixes d’ Europe. Saint Albert s’intéresse au grec, à l’arabe, à l’alchimie, à la magie, à la zoologie, à l’astrologie, etc. Mais il se nourrit aussi d’ Empédocle, de Platon, et des auteurs latins. Il fut évêque pendant deux ans à Ratisbonne (Regensburg) et fut régulièrement chargé par le pape ou les autorités de Cologne de régler de nombreux différends. Tous ses voyages (à Rome, Lyon, Strasbourg, Paris, etc.), se faisaient à pied conformément à la règle de son Ordre. Il meurt en 1280 (âgé probablement de 87 ans) à Cologne où se trouve son tombeau, en l’église Saint-André.

Mémoire de saint Albert, surnommé le Grand, évêque et docteur de l'Église. Né en Bavière, entré dans l'Ordre des Prêcheurs, il enseigna à Paris la philosophie et la théologie oralement et par ses écrits, ayant parmi ses étudiants saint Thomas d'Aquin, et sut magistralement unir la sagesse des saints à la science naturelle et humaine. Ayant dû accepter à contre-cœur l'évêché de Ratisbonne, mal accueilli par le peuple pour sa manière de vivre pauvre et sans faste, au bout d'un an il résigna sa charge, préférant à n'importe quel honneur la pauvreté de son Ordre et il mourut pieusement à Cologne, entouré de ses frères.

Martyrologe romain

« Seigneur Jésus-Christ, écoutez la voix de notre douleur. Dans le désert des pénitents, nous crions vers vous pour n'être pas séduits par de vaines paroles tentatrices sur la noblesse de la famille, le prestige de l'Ordre, le brillant de la science. » (Prière de saint Albert)

SOURCE : https://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/3/Saint-Albert-le-Grand.html

Vincenzo Onofri, Sant'Alberto Magno / Büste von Albertus Magnus, 1493), esposto nel Museo civico medievale a Bologna.


Saint Albert Le Grand

Docteur de l'Église

(1193-1280)

Saint Albert le Grand naquit aux environs d'Augsbourg, de parents riches des biens de la fortune. Dès son enfance, il montra dans ses études une rare perspicacité; le goût des sciences lui fit abandonner les traditions chevaleresques de sa famille et le conduisit à l'université de Padoue, alors très célèbre, où il sut tempérer son ardeur pour l'étude par une vive piété. À l'âge de trente ans, encore incertain de son avenir, mais inspiré par la grâce, il alla se jeter aux pieds de la très Sainte Vierge, et crut entendre la céleste Mère lui dire: "Quitte le monde et entre dans l'Ordre de Saint-Dominique." Dès lors, Albert n'hésita plus, et malgré les résistances de sa famille, il entra au noviciat des Dominicains. Tels furent bientôt ses progrès dans la science et la sainteté, qu'il dépassa ses maîtres eux-mêmes.

Muni du titre de docteur en théologie, il fut envoyé à Cologne, où sa réputation lui attira pendant longtemps de nombreux et illustres disciples. Mais un seul suffirait à sa gloire, c'est saint Thomas d'Aquin. Ce jeune religieux, déjà tout plongé dans les plus hautes études théologiques, était silencieux parmi les autres au point d'être appelé par ses condisciples: "le Boeuf muet de Sicile". Mais Albert les fit taire en disant: "Les mugissements de ce boeuf retentiront dans le monde entier." De Cologne, Albert fut appelé à l'Université de Paris avec son cher disciple. C'est là que son génie parut dans tout son éclat et qu'il composa un grand nombre de ses ouvrages.

Plus tard l'obéissance le ramène en Allemagne comme provincial de son Ordre ; il dit adieu, sans murmurer, à sa cellule, à ses livres, à ses nombreux disciples, et voyage sans argent, toujours à pied, à travers un immense territoire pour visiter les nombreux monastères soumis à sa juridiction. Il était âgé de soixante-sept ans quand il dut se soumettre à l'ordre formel du Pape et accepter, en des circonstances difficiles, le siège épiscopal de Ratisbonne; là, son zèle infatigable ne fut récompensé que par de dures épreuves où se perfectionna sa vertu. Rendu à la paix dans un couvent de son Ordre, il lui fallut bientôt, à l'âge de soixante-dix ans, reprendre ses courses apostoliques. Enfin il put rentrer définitivement dans la retraite pour se préparer à la mort.

On s'étonne que, parmi tant de travaux, de voyages et d'oeuvres de zèle, Albert ait pu trouver le temps d'écrire sur les sciences, la philosophie et la théologie des ouvrages qui ne forment pas moins de vingt et un volumes in-folio, et on peut se demander ce qui a le plus excellé en lui du savant, du saint ou de l'apôtre.

Il mourut âgé de quatre-vingt-sept ans, le 15 novembre 1280 ; son corps fut enterré à Cologne dans l'église des Dominicains. Il lui a fallu attendre jusqu'au 16 décembre 1931 les honneurs de la canonisation et l'extension de son culte à l'Église universelle. En proclamant sa sainteté, le pape Pie XI y ajouta le titre si glorieux et si bien mérité de docteur de l'Église. Sa fête a été fixée au 15 novembre, jour de sa mort. De temps immémorial, il était connu sous le nom d'Albert le Grand.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_albert_le_grand.html


BENOÎT XVI

AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE

Place Saint-Pierre

Mercredi 24 mars 2010

Saint Albert le Grand


Chers frères et sœurs,

L'un des plus grands maîtres de la théologie médiévale est saint Albert le Grand. Le titre de « grand » (magnus), avec lequel il est passé à l'histoire, indique l'étendue et la profondeur de sa doctrine, qu'il associa à la sainteté de sa vie. Mais ses contemporains déjà n'hésitaient pas à lui attribuer des titres d'excellence; l'un de ses disciples, Ulrich de Strasbourg, le définit comme « merveille et miracle de notre temps ».

Il naquit en Allemagne au début du XIIIe siècle, et tout jeune encore, il se rendit en Italie, à Padoue, siège de l'une des plus célèbres universités du moyen-âge. Il se consacra à l'étude de ce que l'on appelle les « arts libéraux »: grammaire, rhétorique, dialectique, arithmétique, géométrie, astronomie et musique, c'est-à-dire de la culture générale, manifestant cet intérêt typique pour les sciences naturelles, qui devait bientôt devenir le domaine de prédilection de sa spécialisation. Au cours de son séjour à Padoue, il fréquenta l'église des dominicains, auxquels il s'unit par la suite avec la profession des vœux religieux. Les sources hagiographiques font comprendre qu'Albert a pris cette décision progressivement. Le rapport intense avec Dieu, l'exemple de sainteté des frères dominicains, l'écoute des sermons du bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe, successeur de saint Dominique à la tête de l'Ordre des prêcheurs, furent les facteurs décisifs qui l'aidèrent à surmonter tout doute, vainquant également les résistances familiales. Souvent, dans les années de notre jeunesse, Dieu nous parle et nous indique le projet de notre vie. Comme pour Albert, pour nous tous aussi, la prière personnelle nourrie par la Parole du Seigneur, l'assiduité aux sacrements et la direction spirituelle donnée par des hommes éclairés sont les moyens pour découvrir et suivre la voix de Dieu. Il reçut l'habit religieux des mains du bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe.

Après son ordination sacerdotale, ses supérieurs le destinèrent à l'enseignement dans divers centres d'études théologiques liés aux couvents des Pères dominicains. Ses brillantes qualités intellectuelles lui permirent de perfectionner l'étude de la théologie à l'Université la plus célèbre de l'époque, celle de Paris. Albert entreprit alors l'activité extraordinaire d'écrivain, qu'il devait poursuivre toute sa vie.

Des tâches prestigieuses lui furent confiées. En 1248, il fut chargé d'ouvrir une université de théologie à Cologne, l'un des chefs-lieux les plus importants d'Allemagne, où il vécut à plusieurs reprises, et qui devint sa ville d'adoption. De Paris, il emmena avec lui à Cologne un élève exceptionnel, Thomas d'Aquin. Le seul mérite d'avoir été le maître de saint Thomas d'Aquin suffirait pour que l'on nourrisse une profonde admiration pour saint Albert. Entre ces deux grands théologiens s'instaura un rapport d'estime et d'amitié réciproque, des attitudes humaines qui contribuent beaucoup au développement de la science. En 1254, Albert fut élu provincial de la « Provincia Teutoniae » – teutonique – des Pères dominicains, qui comprenait des communautés présentes dans un vaste territoire du centre et du nord de l'Europe. Il se distingua par le zèle avec lequel il exerça ce ministère, en visitant les communautés et en rappelant constamment les confrères à la fidélité, aux enseignements et aux exemples de saint Dominique.

Ses qualités n'échappèrent pas au pape de l'époque, Alexandre IV, qui voulut Albert pendant un certain temps à ses côtés à Anagni – où les papes se rendaient fréquemment – à Rome même et à Viterbe, pour bénéficier de ses conseils théologiques. Ce même souverain pontife le nomma évêque de Ratisbonne, un grand et célèbre diocèse, qui traversait toutefois une période difficile. De 1260 à 1262, Albert accomplit ce ministère avec un dévouement inlassable, réussissant à apporter la paix et la concorde dans la ville, à réorganiser les paroisses et les couvents, et à donner une nouvelle impulsion aux activités caritatives.

Dans les années 1263-1264, Albert prêcha en Allemagne et en Bohême, envoyé par le pape Urbain IV, pour retourner ensuite à Cologne et reprendre sa mission d'enseignant, de chercheur et d'écrivain. Etant un homme de prière, de science et de charité, il jouissait d'une grande autorité dans ses interventions, à l'occasion de divers événements concernant l'Eglise et la société de l'époque: ce fut surtout un homme de réconciliation et de paix à Cologne, où l'archevêque était entré en opposition farouche avec les institutions de la ville; il se prodigua au cours du déroulement du II Concile de Lyon, en 1274, convoqué par le pape Grégoire X pour favoriser l'union avec les Grecs, après la séparation du grand schisme d'Orient de 1054; il éclaircit la pensée de Thomas d'Aquin, qui avait rencontré des objections et même fait l'objet de condamnations totalement injustifiées.

Il mourut dans la cellule de son couvent de la Sainte-Croix à Cologne en 1280, et il fut très vite vénéré par ses confrères. L'Eglise le proposa au culte des fidèles avec sa béatification, en 1622, et avec sa canonisation, en 1931, lorsque le pape Pie XI le proclama Docteur de l'Eglise. Il s'agissait d'une reconnaissance sans aucun doute appropriée à ce grand homme de Dieu et éminent savant non seulement dans le domaine des vérités de la foi, mais dans de très nombreux autres domaines du savoir; en effet, en regardant le titre de ses très nombreuses œuvres, on se rend compte que sa culture a quelque chose de prodigieux, et que ses intérêts encyclopédiques le conduisirent à s'occuper non seulement de philosophie et de théologie, comme d'autres contemporains, mais également de toute autre discipline alors connue, de la physique à la chimie, de l'astronomie à la minéralogie, de la botanique à la zoologie. C'est pour cette raison que le pape Pie XII le nomma patron de ceux qui aiment les sciences naturelles et qu'il est également appelé « Doctor universalis », précisément en raison de l'ampleur de ses intérêts et de son savoir.

Les méthodes scientifiques utilisées par saint Albert le Grand ne sont assurément pas celles qui devaient s'affirmer au cours des siècles suivants. Sa méthode consistait simplement dans l'observation, dans la description et dans la classification des phénomènes étudiés, mais ainsi, il a ouvert la porte pour les travaux à venir.

Il a encore beaucoup à nous enseigner. Saint Albert montre surtout qu'entre la foi et la science il n'y a pas d'opposition, malgré certains épisodes d'incompréhension que l'on a enregistrés au cours de l'histoire. Un homme de foi et de prière comme saint Albert le Grand, peut cultiver sereinement l'étude des sciences naturelles et progresser dans la connaissance du micro et du macrocosme, découvrant les lois propres de la matière, car tout cela concourt à abreuver sa soif et à nourrir son amour de Dieu. La Bible nous parle de la création comme du premier langage à travers lequel Dieu – qui est intelligence suprême – nous révèle quelque chose de lui. Le Livre de la Sagesse, par exemple, affirme que les phénomènes de la nature, dotés de grandeur et de beauté, sont comme les œuvres d'un artiste, à travers lesquelles, par analogie, nous pouvons connaître l'Auteur de la création (cf. Sg 13, 5). Avec une comparaison classique au Moyen-âge et à la Renaissance, on peut comparer le monde naturel à un livre écrit par Dieu, que nous lisons selon les diverses approches de la science (cf. Discours aux participants à l'Assemblée plénière de l'Académie pontificale des sciences, 31 octobre 2008). En effet, combien de scientifiques, dans le sillage de saint Albert le Grand, ont mené leurs recherches inspirés par l'émerveillement et la gratitude face au monde qui, à leurs yeux de chercheurs et de croyants, apparaissait et apparaît comme l'œuvre bonne d'un Créateur sage et aimant! L'étude scientifique se transforme alors en un hymne de louange. C'est ce qu'avait bien compris un grand astrophysicien de notre époque, Enrico Medi, et qui écrivait: « Oh, vous mystérieuses galaxies..., je vous vois, je vous calcule, je vous entends, je vous étudie, je vous découvre, je vous pénètre et je vous recueille. De vous, je prends la lumière et j'en fais de la science, je prends le mouvement et j'en fais de la sagesse, je prends le miroitement des couleurs et j'en fais de la poésie; je vous prends vous, étoiles, entre mes mains, et tremblant dans l'unité de mon être, je vous élève au-dessus de vous-mêmes, et en prière je vous présente au Créateur, que seulement à travers moi, vous étoiles, vous pouvez adorer » (Le opere. Inno alla creazione).

Saint Albert le Grand nous rappelle qu'entre science et foi une amitié existe et que les hommes de science peuvent parcourir à travers leur vocation à l'étude de la nature, un authentique et fascinant parcours de sainteté.

Son extraordinaire ouverture d'esprit se révèle également dans une opération culturelle qu'il entreprit avec succès: l'accueil et la mise en valeur de la pensée d'Aristote. A l'époque de saint Albert, en effet, la connaissance de beaucoup d'œuvres de ce grand philosophe grec ayant vécu au quatrième siècle avant Jésus Christ, en particulier dans le domaine de l'éthique et de la métaphysique, était en effet en train de se répandre. Celles-ci démontraient la force de la raison, elles expliquaient avec lucidité et clarté le sens et la structure de la réalité, son intelligibilité, la valeur et la fin des actions humaines. Saint Albert le Grand a ouvert la porte à la réception complète de la philosophie d'Aristote dans la philosophie et la théologie médiévales, une réception élaborée ensuite de manière définitive par saint Thomas. Cette réception d'une philosophie, disons, païenne pré-chrétienne, fut une authentique révolution culturelle pour cette époque. Pourtant, beaucoup de penseurs chrétiens craignaient la philosophie d'Aristote, la philosophie non chrétienne, surtout parce que celle-ci, présentée par ses commentateurs arabes, avait été interprétée de manière à apparaître, au moins sur certains points, comme tout à fait inconciliable avec la foi chrétienne. Il se posait donc un dilemme: foi et raison sont-elles ou non en conflit l'une avec l'autre?

C'est là que réside l'un des grands mérites de saint Albert: avec une rigueur scientifique il étudia les œuvres d'Aristote, convaincu que tout ce qui est vraiment rationnel est compatible avec la foi révélée dans les Saintes Ecritures. En d'autres termes, saint Albert le Grand a ainsi contribué à la formation d'une philosophie autonome, distincte de la théologie et unie à elle uniquement par l'unité de la vérité. Ainsi est apparue au XIIIe siècle une distinction claire entre ces deux savoirs, philosophie et théologie qui, en dialogue entre eux, coopèrent de manière harmonieuse à la découverte de la vocation authentique de l'homme, assoiffé de vérité et de béatitude: et c'est surtout la théologie, définie par saint Albert comme une « science affective », qui indique à l'homme son appel à la joie éternelle, une joie qui jaillit de la pleine adhésion à la vérité.

Saint Albert le Grand fut capable de communiquer ces concepts de manière simple et compréhensible. Authentique fils de saint Dominique, il prêchait volontiers au peuple de Dieu, qui était conquis par sa parole et par l'exemple de sa vie.

Chers frères et sœurs, prions le Seigneur pour que ne viennent jamais à manquer dans la sainte Eglise de doctes théologiens, pieux et savants comme saint Albert le Grand et pour que ce dernier aide chacun de nous à faire sienne la « formule de la sainteté » qu'il adopta dans sa vie: « Vouloir tout ce que je veux pour la gloire de Dieu, comme Dieu veut pour sa gloire tout ce qu'Il veut », soit se conformer toujours à la volonté de Dieu pour vouloir et faire tout, seulement et toujours pour Sa gloire.

* * *

C'est avec joie que j'accueille ce matin les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les jeunes venus de France et le groupe du diocèse de Vannes. A tous je souhaite de vivre une fervente Semaine Sainte afin de découvrir toujours plus la profondeur de l'amour de Dieu pour les hommes. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100324_fr.html

Justus van Gent  (fl. 1460–1480), Pedro Berruguete  (1450–1504), Alberto Magn (Alberto Magno) - Studiolo di Federico da Montefeltro, circa 1472-1476, 116 x 53, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche


15 novembre

Saint Albert le Grand

Albert le Grand naquit (entre 1193 et 1206) à Lauingen, dans la partie Souabe du diocèse d'Augsbourg, d’un officier de la cour qui avait une haute charge dans l'administration de la cité. Etudiant à Bologne où l’avait emmené un de ses oncles, il fut séduit par le bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe 1 (second maître général des Prêcheurs) et entra chez des Dominicains, bien que son oncle et ses condisciples essayassent de l’en dissuader, avant que son père organisât une tentative d'enlèvement qui échoua.

Sans doute fit-il ses études chez les Prêcheurs de Cologne où, en 1228, il était lecteur, ou professeur, s'efforçant d'adapter à la pensée chrétienne les théories d'Aristote qui avait pour grands interprètes les Arabes Avicenne et Averroës ; il cherchait aussi à utiliser la spéculation juive représentée par Moïse Maïmonide. Il enseigna à Hildesheim, à Fribourg-en Brisgau, puis à Ratisbonne, et enfin à Strasbourg.

En 1244, nommé à Paris pour gagner son doctorat de théologie et régenter une des deux écoles du couvent Saint-Jacques, incorporées à l'Université, il expliquait les Sentences de Pierre Lombard et commençait la vaste encyclopédie scientifique qui lui valut la célébrité. En 1248, il fut chargé de gouverner le studium generale de Cologne. En 1252, il intervint pour la cité contre l'oppression féodale de l'archevêque Conrad de Hochstaden2. A plusieurs reprises, jusqu'en 1272, on lui demanda d'arbitrer des conflits entre la ville et ses évêques.  Le chapitre provincial d'Allemagne l’élut provincial de Teutonie, de 1254 à 1257, veillant contre une ascèse indiscrète, nuisible aux bonnes études, et contre des glissements vers une vie trop commode.

En 1256, il entra en lice dans le combat entre les séculiers de l'Université et les ordres mendiants ; les premiers trouvaient que les nouveaux venus leur faisaient dans les chaires doctorales une concurrence déloyale, et qu'on ne pouvait concilier étude et pauvreté. Le saint dominicain Albert et le saint franciscain Bonaventure défendirent leur ordre devant le pape Alexandre IV qui condamna le champion des séculiers, Guillaume de Saint-Amour3 (5 octobre 1256). Pour la Curie romaine, Albert commenta saint Jean et discuta l'averroïsme, persuadé qu'il fallait combattre par la philosophie les erreurs philosophiques du penseur arabe.

Rentré à Cologne en 1257, il fut relevé de sa charge de provincial par le chapitre général de Florence et reprit son enseignement. Au printemps 1259, au chapitre général de Valenciennes, avec Thomas d'Aquin et Pierre de Tarentaise (futur Innocent V),  il élabora un important règlement pour les études dans l'Ordre. Appelé à Rome, malgré le maître général Humbert de Romans, Albert dut accepter l'évêché de Ratisbonne (5 janvier 1260) où il fallut s'ingénier à payer des dettes  et réorganiser les finances épiscopales, tout en combattant les mauvaises mœurs. Le peuple, habitué à un prélat fastueux, accueillit mal Albert qu’il surnomma Godasse. Albert, dès qu'il eut quelqu'un capable de le remplacer, s'empressa d'aller résigner son évêché. En mai 1262, son successeur était nommé, et Urbain IV lui demanda de prêcher la croisade dans les pays de langue allemande (1263), ce qu'il fit sans grand effet, malgré les vingt-cinq bulles pontificales venues à sa rescousse. Albert mettait au point une autre croisade plus efficace, où il faisait marcher Aristote pour prendre à revers les théoriciens juifs et arabes. Urbain IV interdit l'enseignement d'Aristote, mais fit réunir les meilleures têtes dominicaines pour se concerter sur son utilisation. Sa mort, en octobre 1264, amenait la fin de la mission d'Albert pour la croisade. En février 1264, celui-ci avait joué un rôle pacificateur à Würtzbourg.

Le maître général Jean de Verceil, songea à envoyer Albert à Paris, en pleine crise averroïste, mais il fut nommé à Cologne où il réussit à faire lever l'interdit jeté par le légat de Clément IV (1270-1274). Il voyageait pour rendre des services liturgiques, consacrant des églises ou des autels et ordonnant des clercs. Au concile de Lyon, il prononça un discours en faveur de Rodolphe I° de Habsbourg. En mars 1277, l'évêque de Paris ayant condamné 119 thèses péripatéticiennes, dont plusieurs étaient également thomistes, Albert qui venait de compiler son dernier ouvrage, une Summa theologica, se rendit, semble-t-il, à Paris, pour défendre les vues de son cher Frère Thomas d’Aquin.

Il mourut le 15 novembre 1280, assis, entouré de ses frères. Il avait légué ses livres et ses ornements aux Dominicains de Cologne. Il fut enterré dans leur église, dont il pressait l'achèvement. Innocent VIII permit aux prêcheurs de Cologne et de Ratisbonne un office en l'honneur du bienheureux Albert, confesseur pontife (1484) ; après qu'il fut béatifié par Grégoire XV (15 septembre 1622), obtenaient cette faveur la ville de Lauingen en 1631, puis tous les couvents dominicains de l'Empire (1635), ceux des pays vénitiens (1664), ceux de l'Ordre entier (1670), l'archidiocèse de Cologne (1856) où la fête fut promue au rite double en 1870.

Enfin Pie XI, par la lettre décrétale In thesauris sapientiæ (16 décembre 1931) le  proclama saint Albert le Grand docteur de l'Eglise et étendit sa messe et son office à l’Eglise universelle : Albert qui, durant sa vie, collabora avec autant d’énergie que de succès à ramener la paix entre les Etats et les princes, entre les peuples et les individus, nous apparaît comme le type véritable de l’arbitre de la paix. Il possédait en effet à un haut degré le don de la conciliation, grâce à la renommée que lui valait sa solidité doctrinale et sa réputation de sainteté. Le tout s’alliait enfin, chez lui, à une grande dignité personnelle que relevait encore, en l’ennoblissant, le caractère sacré du sacerdoce.

La science elle-même est la meilleure des voies qui conduisent à une paix stable, quand elle se soumet en même temps à la droite raison et à la foi surnaturelle. Chez Albert le Grand, les clartés des sciences tant humaines que divines, se fondent dans une admirable union et le nimbent d’une glorieuse auréole. Par son exemple magnifique, il nous avertit qu’entre le science et la foi, entre la vérité et le bien, entre les dogmes et la sainteté, il n’existe aucune espèce d’opposition ; bien plus, qu’il existe entre eux une intime cohésion (...)

La puissante voix d’Albert le Grand se fait entendre dans ses œuvres admirables. Elle nous crie de toutes ses forces, elle nous démontre surabondamment que la science véritable, ainsi que la foi et une vie réglée sur la foi, peuvent se concilier dans l’esprit des hommes, qu’elles y sont même obligées, car la foi surnaturelle est en même temps le complément et le terme le plus parfait de la science.  

Pie XII, dans une lettre apostolique, l'a proclamé patron céleste de tous ceux qui cultivent les sciences naturelles, à la demande des académiciens catholiques réunis à Trèves (16 décembre 1941) : Si les règles ou directies que le grand évêque de Ratisbonne avait établies à propos de la nécessité de l’expérimentation, de l’observation pénétrante et de l’importance de l’induction pour arriver à la vérité dans l’étude des choses de la nature, avaient été, déjà en ce temps, bien comprises et appliquées, les admirables progrès scientifiques dont se glorifient les époques plus récentes et aussi la nôtre, auraient pu être des siècles auparavant découverts et réalisés pour le plus grand profit de l’humanité.

Seigneur Jésus-Christ, écoutez la voix de notre douleur. Dans le désert des pénitents, nous crions vers vous, pour n'être pas séduits par de vaines paroles tentatrices sur la noblesse de la famille, sur le prestige de l'ordre, sur ce que la science a d'attirant.

Quand donc verrons-nous donc de nos yeux ce visage que si longtemps, ici-bas, nous avons désiré ! Quand donc serons-nous assis auprès de notre Mère, nous qui sommes si éloignés d'elle ! Quand donc sa glorieuse présence nous sera-t-elle garantie sans retrait possible ! Oh ! Quand serons-nous ainsi ? Est-ce que nous la verrons ? Est-ce que nous aurons la persévérance ? Dites, Mère de miséricorde, est-il écrit quelque part dans le livre de votre Fils, que nous vous verrons, avec lui ? En attendant, s'il vous plaît, que les larmes soient notre nourriture jour et nuit (Psaume XLI 4) jusqu'à ce que nous entendions : Mes fils, voilà votre Mère ! (saint Jean XIX 27) Mes enfants, voilà votre frère !

1 Le bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe fut le premier successeur de saint Dominique. Né vers 1185, à Burgberg (Westphalie), il étudia à Paris où il devint maître ès arts puis bachelier en théologie. A cette activité scolaire se rattachent son Commentaire in Priscianum minorem et ses Postilles sur l'Apocalypse. Entré en relation avec saint Dominique, il prit l'habit des Frères prêcheurs à Saint-Jacques (Paris), le 12 février 1220. Deux mois après, son couvent le délégua au premier chapitre général de l'Ordre, à Bologne. Un an plus tard, lorsque saint Dominique fit organiser les provinces dominicaines, Jourdain fut choisi comme premier prieur provincial de Lombardie. Le 22 mai 1222, au chapitre général de Paris, Jourdain fut élu à la succession de saint Dominique. Jourdain fut un remarquable directeur spirituel et un grand prédicateur, apprécié des étudiants de Bologne, de Paris, d'Oxford ou de Cologne, au fur et à mesure de ses perpétuels voyages entre les chapitres généraux qui, à la Pentecôte, le ramenaient régulièrement une année à Paris, une année à Bologne. Soucieux que l'Ordre des Prêcheurs reste fidèle aux volontés du fondateur Jourdain de Saxe entreprit de relater les conditions dans lesquelles saint Dominique conçut l'idée d'un Ordre « qui s'appellerait et serait réellement de Prêcheurs », et selon quelles étapes il le réalisa. Après la canonisation de Dominique (3 juillet 1234), il raconta en outre, les événements de la solennelle translation du corps, dont il fut témoin à Bologne. Au retour d’un voyage en Terre Sainte, Jourdain de Saxe périt (12 février 1237), dans un naufrage au large des côtes syriennes ; son corps rejeté par la mer fut enterré au couvent dominicain de Saint-Jean-d’Acre.

2 Conrad de Hochstaden, archevêque de Cologne de 1238 à 1361), né vers 1198, était inébranlablement attaché à la poursuite de sa politique ; il mérita, par sa brutalité et ses violences d'être appelé le « sanguinaire ». Prince d'Empire, il fut impliqué dans de nombreuses luttes avec les princes voisins de Juliers, Limbourg, Berg, Clèves, Sayn et Paderborn. D’abord partisan de l'Empereur, il changea d'orientation politique et se fit l'allié de la Curie romaine contre les Hohenstaufen. Il devint le chef politique de l'Allemagne dont il était le plus puissant prince. Il tendit tous ses efforts vers l'établissement d'un Etat territorial sur le Rhin. Comme évêque et chef spirituel, Conrad s'est acquis des mérites par l'appui qu'il accorda au ministère des frères mineurs et aux autres ordres. Il se préoccupa de promouvoir la discipline dans son archidiocèse. Il restaura et construisit de nombreuses églises.

3 Guillaume de Saint-Amour, né à Saint-Amour (Jura), étudia puis enseigna à la faculté des arts de Paris. Il prit ensuite le doctorat en droit canon et, enfin, entreprit les longues études qui menaient alors au doctorat en théologie : docteur, il commença à enseigner la théologie vers 1250. Il se trouva bientôt mêlé aux luttes que les maîtres de la faculté de théologie de Paris menaient contre les religieux mendiants et son caractère entier le porta à prendre la tête du mouvement. Guillaume mena d'abord la lutte à Paris, puis à la Curie romaine qui se trouvait alors à Anagni ; il était le chef de la députation universitaire qui s'y présenta en 1254 devant Innocent IV et y remporta une victoire sur les religieux mendiants : par la bulle Quociens pro communi (4 juillet 1254), le pape reconnut officiellement les statuts universitaires de 1252, aux termes desquels aucun des collèges de religieux ne pourrait avoir plus d'une chaire magistrale ; les religieux n'appartenant à aucun collège ne pourraient faire partie de l'université. Quelques mois plus tard Innocent IV mourait, et son successeur, Alexandre IV, se révélait chaud partisan des ordres nouveaux. A Paris où il était rentré, Guillaume organisa la résistance, instiguant des grèves et diverses manœuvres, combattant tous les compromis proposés. Le pape le condamna le 5 octobre 1256, et le retint même en résidence surveillée à la Curie où il était revenu pour se défendre. Après une lutte âpre et parfois cauteleuse, Guillaume obtint de quitter Anagni, mais ne put obtenir la permission de rentrer en France : il restait d'ailleurs privé de sa chaire et de ses bénéfices. Il se retira dans son village natal, alors terre impériale, et, malgré l'interdiction qui lui en avait été faite, entretint des relations avec ses partisans de Paris. Il mourut le 13 septembre 1272.

SOURCE : http://missel.free.fr/Sanctoral/11/15.php


ALBERT LE GRAND.

De son vrai nom A. de Bollstaedt. Appelé par ses contemporains Albertus Lauingensis (de Lauingen), A. Theutonicus, A. de Colonia, Dominus Albertus (après sa consécration épiscopale), et de bonne heure par la postérité : A. Magnus.

1. Biographie.

2. Ecrits.

3. Influence.

I. BIOGRAPHIE.

Albert naquit en 1206 (non en 1193, ainsi que le croient universellement ses modernes historiens) dans la petite ville souabe de Lauingen sur le Danube. Il était le fils aîné du comte de Bollstaedt, une famille féodale puissante et riche dévouée à Frédéric II. Elevé dans la société de jeunes seigneurs, il fut conduit, adolescent, à Padoue, pour y faire ses études sous la surveillance d’un oncle, vraisemblablement ecclésiastique, tandis que son père guerroyait en Lombardie, au service de l’empereur. Le second maître général des frères prêcheurs, Jourdain de Saxe, étant venu prêcher aux étudiants de Padoue pendant les premiers mois de 1223, attira à l’ordre un grand nombre de jeunes gens, parmi lesquels Albert, alors âgé de seize ans et demi. Malgré les résistances de son oncle et de ses condisciples et une tentative d’enlèvement de la part de son père, Albert entra dans l’ordre et fut conduit, pour y continuer ses études, dans un ou plusieurs couvents qu’on ne peut désigner avec sécurité, mais vraisemblablement à Cologne. C’est là qu’il commença plus tard son enseignement en interprétant deux fois le Maître des Sentences. Il fut successivement lecteur de théologie dans les couvents de Hildesheim, Fribourg-en-Brisgau, Ratisbonne (pendant deux ans) et Strasbourg.

En 1245, Albert fut envoyé à Paris pour y conquérir le titre de maître en théologie et régenter une des deux écoles dominicaines du couvent de Saint-Jacques, incorporées à l’université. C’est pendant ce séjour à Paris qu’Albert commença, concurremment à l’enseignement de la théologie, la publication de la vaste encyclopédie scientifique qui lui valut son incomparable célébrité, et qu’il compléta jusque vers la fin de sa vie, bien qu’elle fût déjà achevée en grande partie en 1256. Le maître quitta vraisemblablement Paris à la fin de l’année scolaire 1248. Au chapitre général de cette année, l’ordre des prêcheurs ayant établi quatre studia generalia, en plus de celui de Paris, pour étendre la formation intellectuelle supérieure de ses recrues, l’une de ces études générales fut établie à Cologne et Albert en devint le premier régent. Malgré les nombreuses absences du célèbre maître, cette ville devait être, jusqu’à la fin de ses jours, sa résidence ordinaire, ce qui lui valut d’être souvent nommé par ses contemporains Albert de Cologne.

Cette nouvelle période de la vie d’Albert est marquée par l’intensité de son activité littéraire. Il compta alors Thomas d’Aquin parmi ses disciples. Pendant son séjour à Cologne, Albert ne cessa aussi d’intervenir comme arbitre de 1252 à 1272 dans les graves différends qui éclatèrent entre la ville et ses évêques. En 1254, le chapitre de la province d’Allemagne, tenu à Worms, confia à Albert le gouvernement de la province dont il s’occupa très activement. Deux ans plus tard, étant encore provincial, il se rendit à la cour romaine pour prendre la défense des prêcheurs contre les attaques de Guillaume de Saint-Amour, dont le célèbre pamphlet De novissimorum temporum periculis fut condamné à Anagni par Alexandre IV le 5 octobre 1256. Pendant son séjour à la curie, Albert remplit l’office de lecteur du sacré palais et interpréta, à la demande du pape et de ses cardinaux, l’Evangile de saint Jean et toutes les Epîtres canoniques. Ce fut encore pendant ce séjour à la curie qu’Albert, sur la demande d’Alexandre IV, écrivit contre la théorie averroïste de l’unité de l’intelligence son traité De unitate intellectus. Ce voyage jusque dans le midi de l’Italie fournit à Albert, comme tous ses autres déplacements, l’occasion de recherches scientifiques, et c’est alors qu’il découvrit le De motibus animalium d’Aristote dont il publia le commentaire.

Albert rentra à Cologne en 1257. Il fut relevé de sa charge de provincial par le chapitre général de Florence de cette même année, et reprit le cours de son enseignement. Au printemps de 1259, Albert de rendit au chapitre général de Valenciennes, où il élabora avec thomas d’Aquin et Pierre de Tarentaise, le futur Innocent V, un important règlement pour les études dans l’ordre. Il est très probable qu’Albert se rendit à Rome au cours de cette même année, appelé par le souverain pontife. Le pape le désigna pour l’évêché de Ratisbonne, le 5 janvier 1260, malgré les efforts du général de l’ordre, Humbert de Romans, pour éviter cette nomination. Albert s’adonna avec zèle aux devoirs de sa nouvelle charge. Mais la nécessité de se mêler à de graves affaires temporelles, en un temps où les églises d’Allemagne vivaient encore du régime féodal, poussa le nouvel évêque, plus amoureux d’étude que de guerre, à résigner sa charge au printemps de 1262.

Le 13 février 1263, Urbain IV le préposa à la prédication de la croisade pour l’Allemagne, la Bohême et autres lieus de langue teutonique. Cette mission lui fit parcourir l’Allemagne pendant les années 1263 et 1264 dans toutes les directions, de Ratisbonne et Cologne jusqu’aux frontières de la Pologne. De 1265 au commencement de 1267, Albert fit un long séjour à Wurzbourg où il joua, comme à Cologne, le rôle de pacificateur, tout en continuant d’étudier et d’écrire. Vers le milieu de 1267, l’évêque démissionnaire, le seigneur Albert, dominus Albertus, ainsi qu’on l’appela dès lors jusqu’à la fin de sa vie, offrit au général de l’ordre, Jean de Verceil, de reprendre l’enseignement. Celui-ci accepta avec reconnaissance et songea même un instant à le renvoyer professer à Paris.

Ce fut l’étude de Cologne qui le reçut encore une fois. Bien que résidant ordinairement dans cette ville, Albert se déplaça fréquemment pendant une dizaine d’années (1268-1277). On le trouve spécialement pendant cette période en différents points de l’Allemagne, au nord comme au midi, consacrant des églises nouvelles et des autels, ou faisant même des ordinations sacerdotales. En 1270, au fort de la lutte soutenue, à Paris, par Thomas d’Aquin contre Siger de Brabant et les autres averroïstes de la faculté des arts, Albert intervint par l’envoi d’un mémoire qu’avait sollicité Gilles de Lessines et dans lequel il réfute les théories fondamentales du péripatétisme averroïste.

L’année 1274 vit Albert se rendre au second concile général de Lyon et y siéger parmi les Pères de cette assemblée. Il quitta encore une fois Cologne, vraisemblablement pendant le second trimestre de 1277, pour venir à Paris défendre les doctrines de Thomas d’Aquin que l’évêque Etienne Tempier et les maîtres séculiers de la faculté de théologie avaient tenté d’envelopper dans une commune réprobation avec les erreurs averroïstes, le 7 mars précédent. Revenu à Cologne, Albert y rédigea, en janvier 1278, son testament. Ce fut, semble-t-il, le dernier acte important de sa vie lucide. Le cerveau de l’homme qui avait absorbé la science de l’antiquité et de son siècle céda sous le poids du travail et des années. Albert perdit la mémoire et sa raison s’affaiblit. Il était pris de fréquentes crises de larmes, surtout au souvenir de son disciple bien-aimé, Thomas d’Aquin, descendu dans la tombe avant lui. Il mourut le 15 novembre 1280, âgé de soixante-quatorze ans. Cologne lui fit de magnifiques funérailles. Il a été béatifié par l’Eglise le 27 novembre 1622, et sa fête de célèbre le 16 novembre.

SOURCES BIOGRAPHIQUES.

Il n’existe pas de biographie d’Albert le Grand écrite par un contemporain. On peut toutefois reconstituer les faits principaux de sa vie, avec les données synchroniques tirées soit de ses propres écrits, soit surtout d’auteurs du XIIIe siècle et des actes officiels émanés d’Albert ou le concernant. La plupart de ces sources, mais non toutes, sont utilisées dans les biographies modernes. Comme elles sont très nombreuses, nous renonçons à les énumérer ici. Nous faisons exception pour la suivante à raison de son importance, et parce que les biographes d’Albert ne l’ont pas encore utilisée : H. Finke, Ungedruckte Dominikanerbriefe des 13. Jahrhunderts, Paderborn, 1891, Passim.

La première notice biographique d’Albert est celle tracée par Henri de Hervordia († 1370) dans son Liber de rebus memorabilibus sive Chronicon, édit. A. Potthast, Gœttingue, 1859, p. 201.

Une vie anonyme du XIVe siècle a été éditée par les bollandistes : Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum bibliothecæ regiæ Bruxellensis. Codices latini, t. II, Bruxelles, 1889, p. 95-104.

Une autre vie est insérée dans la chronique anonyme publiée par Martène et Durand : Amplissima collectio, t. VI, p. 358-362. L’auteur [Alberto Castellani, O. P.] déclare (889) avoir emprunté le fond de sa chronique à Jacques de Soest, O. P. († 1423). Louis de Valladolid, dans sa Tabula quorumdam doctorum ordinis prædicatorum, utilisée par Echard ; Petrus de Prussia, Vita B. Alberti doctoris magni…, Cologne, 1486, et Anvers, 1621, à la suite du De adhærendo Deo, p. 61-326 ; Petrus Noviomagensis, Legenda venerabilis Dominis Alberti Magni…, Cologne, 1490.

Le premier travail critique important sur Albert est l’œuvre d’Echard : Scriptores ordinis prædicatorum, Paris, 1719, t. I, p. 162-184, reproduit au tome I de l’édition nouvelle des Opera omnia B. Alberti Magni ; G. de Ferrari, Vita del beato Alberto Magno, Rome, 1847 ; J. Sighart, Albertus Magnus. Sein Leben und seine Wissenschaft, Ratisbonne, 1857 ; traduction française par un religieux dominicain : Albert le Grand, Paris, 1862 ; H. Iweins, Le bienheureux Albert le Grand, 2e édit., Bruxelles, 1874 ; F. Ehrle, Der selige Albert der Grosse, dans Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, t. XIX, 1880, p. 241-258, 395-414 ; A. Gloria, Quot annos et in quibus Italiæ urbibus Albertus Magnus moratus sit ? dans Atti del’Istituto Veneto, 1879-80, p. 5, etc. ; [N. Thoemes], Albertus Magnus in Geschichte und Sage, Cologne, 1880, p. 1-18 ; A. van Weddingen, Albert le Grand, le maître de saint Thomas d’Aquin d’après les plus récents travaux critiques, Paris-Bruxelles, 1881 ; H. Goblet, Der selige Albertus Magnus und die Geschichte seiner Reliquien, Cologne, 1880 ; C. W. Kaiser, Festbericht über die Albertus-Magnus-Feier in Lauingen am 12 september 1881, Donauwörth, 1881.

On trouve des notices sur Albert dans tous les grands ouvrages biographiques (voir spécialement l’article de Jourdain dans le Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques et Hurter, Nomenclator literarius, t. IV, col. 297-302), dans les histoires de la philosophie (B. Hauréau, Histoire de la philosophie scolastique, IIe part., t. I, Paris, 1880, p. 214-333 ; A. Stöckl, Geschichte der Philosophie der Mittelalters, Mayence, 1865, t. II, p. 352-421 ; K. Werner, Der heilige Thomas von Aquino, Ratisbonne, 1858, p. 82-95 ; P. Feret, La faculté de théologie de Paris, t. II, Paris, 1895, p. 421-441), et dans la plupart des ouvrages cités à la fin de cet article. Voir Analecta bollandiana, 1900-1902.

II. ECRITS D’ALBERT LE GRAND.

L’activité littéraire d’Albert le Grand paraît incontestablement la plus gigantesque du moyen âge. Elle s’étend à presque toutes les sciences profanes et sacrées. Deux éditions de ses écrits ont été publiées sous le titre d’Opera omnia. La première, celle du dominicain Pierre Jammy, comprend 21 vol. in-fol., Lyon, 1651. La seconde qui la reproduit quant au nombre de ses écrits, celle de l’abbé Borgnet, est au terme de publication, commencée en 18901, et comprend 38 volumes in-4° (Paris, Vivès).

Un grand nombre d’ouvrages d’Albert le Grand ont été édités séparément ou par groupes. Quelques-uns ont eu de nombreuses éditions, mais il serait ici hors de propos de chercher à les énumérer ici. Un travail fondamental de critique n’ayant pas été exécuté pour préparer une édition complète des œuvres d’Albert le Grand, le texte de ses écrits laisse à désirer et la détermination des œuvres authentiques est insuffisamment établie. De nombreux et même d’importants ouvrages sont indubitablement restés inédits. Nous donnons ici la liste de ceux qui font partie des deux éditions des œuvres dites complètes, en renvoyant aux volumes qui les contiennent.

A. SCIENCES PROFANES, OU PHILOSOPHIE.

– Les éditeurs n’ont pas observé l’ordre naturel entre les traités d’Albert. Nous le rétablissons, tel qu’il résulte des indications fournies par les données internes de ces ouvrages, en indiquant, par la lettre L, les tomes de l’édition de Lyon et, par la lettre P, les tomes de l’édition de Paris.

I. LOGIQUE (L., t. I ; P., t. I, II) :

De prædicabilibus. De prædicamentis. De sex principiis Gilberti Porretani. Super duos libros Aristotelis Perihermenias. Super librum priorum Analyticorum primum. Super secundum. Super librum posteriorum Analyticorum primum. Super secundum. Super libros octo Topicorum. Super duos Elenchorum.

II. SCIENCES NATURELLES.

– De physico auditu (L., t. II ; P., t. III). De cælo et mundo (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). De natura locorum (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De proprietabus elementorum (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De generatione et corruptione (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). Meteororum libri IV (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). De passionibus aeris (L., t. V ; P., t. IV). De mineralibus (L., t. II ; P., t. V). De anima (L., t. III ; P., t. V). De natura et origine animæ (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De nutrimento (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De sensu et sensato (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De memoria et reminiscentia (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De intellectu et intelligibili (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De somno et vigilia (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De spiritu et respiratione (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De motibus animalium (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De motibus progressivis animalium (L., t. V ; P., t. X). De ætate, de juventute et senectute (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De morte et vita (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De vegetabilibus (L., t. V ; P., t. X). De animalibus (L., t. VI ; P., t. X-XI).

Dans l’exécution de ses traités de sciences naturelles Albert n’a pas suivi rigoureusement l’ordre qu’il avait annoncé tout d’abord Phys., l. I, tr. I, c. IV. Il a en outre ajouté, au cours de la composition, le De ætate, et il a écrit plus tard trois traités destinés à être intercalés dans l’ensemble de l’œuvre, à savoir : De passionibus aeris, De natura et origine animæ, de motibus progressivis.

III. METAPHYSIQUE.

– Metaphysicorum libri XIII (L., t. III ; P., t. VI). De causis et processu universalitatis (L., t. V ; P., t. X). Ce dernier traité a été composé plus tard comme complément au Xie livre de la métaphysique.

IV. SCIENCES MORALES.

– Ethicorum libri X (L., t. IV ; P., t. VII). Politicorum libri VIII (L., t. IV ; P., t. VIII). Le traité qui porte en titre Philosophia seu Isagoge (L., t. XXI ; P., t. V) est un abrégé de sciences naturelles. Le De unitate intellectus contra Averroem (L., t. V ; P., t. IX) et les Quindecim problemata contra Averroistas (édités par nous dans Siger de Brabant, p. 15-36) sont deux écrits polémiques, le premier de 1256, le second de 1270. Les traités De apprehensione et apprehensionis modis (L., t. XXI ; P., t. V), Speculum astronomicum (L., t. V ; P., t. V), Libellus de alchimia (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII), Scriptum super arborem Aristotelis (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVIII) sont apocryphes.

B. SCIENCES SACRÉES.

I. ÉCRITURE SAINTE.

– Commentarii in Psalmos (L., t. VII ; P., t. XV-XVII). In Threnos Jeremiæ (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In librum Baruch (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In librum Danielis (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In duodecim Prophetas minores (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XIX). In Matthæum (L., t. IX ; P., t. XX, XXI). In Marcum (L., t. IX ; P., t. XXI). In Lucam (L., t. X ; P., t. XXII, XXIII). In Joannem (L., t. XI ; P., t. XXIV). In Apocalypsim (L., t. XI ; P., t. XXXVIII). M. Weiss a édité : Comment. in Job, 1904.

II. THÉOLOGIE.

– Commentarii in Dionysium Areopagitam. De cælesti hierarchia (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). De ecclesiastica hierarchia (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). De mystica theologica (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). In undecim Epistolas Dionysii (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). Commentarium in quatuor libros Sententiarum (L., t. XIV-XVI ; P., t. XXV-XXX). Summa theologiæ (L., t. XVII, XVIII ; P., t. XXXI-XXXIII). Summa de creaturis (L., t. XIX ; P., t. XXXIV-XXXV). Compendium theologicæ veritatis (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XXXIV), n’est probablement pas d’Albert, mais de son école (voir l’article HUGUES DE STRASBOURG). De sacrificio Missæ (L., t. XXI). De sacramento Eucharistiæ (L., t. XXXI ; P., t. XXXVIII). Super evangelium missus est quæstiones CCXXX (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXXVII).

III. PARENETIQUE.

– Sermones de tempore (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Sermones de sanctis (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Sermones XXXII de sacramento Eucharistiæ (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Voir sur cet ouvrage les observations faites dans un article spécial qui suit. De muliere forti (L., t. XII ; P., t. XVIII). Orationes super evangelia dominicalia totius anni (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Le Paradisus animæ (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII) et le Liber de adhærendo Deo (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII) ne sont probablement pas d’Albert. Le De laudibus B. Virginis libri duodecim (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXVI) et la Biblia Mariana (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXXVII) ne sont pas de lui.

Les écrits d’Albert le Grand qui constituent, à peu de choses près, son encyclopédie scientifique, c’est-à-dire les écrits sur la logique, les sciences naturelles, la métaphysique et l’éthique proprement dite, ont été composés avant 1256. Revue thomiste, t. V, p. 95-104.

Les plus anciens catalogues des ouvrages d’Albert le Grand sont ceux de Bernard Guidonis (Denifle, Archiv für literatur-und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1886, t. II, p. 236), de Henri de Hervordia, voyez plus haut, loc. cit., p. 202, de la vie anonyme publiée par les bollandistes, loc. cit., de la chronique anonyme éditée par Martène et Durand, loc. cit., les catalogues de Louis de Valladolid et de Laurent Pignon, utilisés par Echard, loc. cit., celui de Pierre de Prusse, dans la vie d’Albert, loc. cit. Ces catalogues, qui fournissent de nombreuses et importantes indications, ne sont pas toujours des guides sûrs dans le détail.

On trouvera dans les ouvrages de bibliographie de Hain, Brunet, Graesse, Pellechet et autres, l’indication de nombreuses éditions des écrits divers d’Albert, surtout des plus anciennes et les plus rares. Sur les éditions et les manuscrits en général, on devra surtout consulter Echard, Script. ord. Præd., loc. cit., et Melchor Weiss, Primordia novæ bibliographiæ B. Alberti Magni, Paris, L. Vivès, 1898. Du même, Uber mariologische Schriften des seligen Albertus, Paris, 1898.

III. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT LE GRAND.

L’action intellectuelle exercée par Albert sur le moyen âge a été probablement de toutes la plus puissante, sans en excepter celle de Thomas d’Aquin, qui, étendue à un domaine moins vaste, a été plus profonde et plus durable. Thomas fut un fleuve, Albert un torrent. On doit examiner l’influence de ce dernier dans le domaine des sciences profanes dont l’ensemble portait encore de son temps, comme chez les Grecs, le nom de philosophie, et aussi son influence dans la science sacrée, qui prit alors définitivement le nom de théologie.

I. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT SUR LES SCIENCES PROFANES.

L’action littéraire et intellectuelle d’Albert est liée étroitement au travail d’assimilation de la science antique qui s’opère spécialement dans l’Europe, au XIIIe siècle. Albert a été le premier et le plus grand intermédiaire qui ait porté à la connaissance des lettrés de son temps l’ensemble de la science grecque, latine et arabe. Doué d’une activité et d’une faculté d’assimilation surprenantes, membre d’un ordre religieux qui, en se vouant le premier à l’étude, préparait un milieu spécial à la culture scientifique, Albert joua un véritable rôle de révélateur intellectuel, dans une époque où le progrès de l’esprit était entravé par des difficultés que ne pouvaient surmonter la plupart des hommes d’étude.

L’œuvre encyclopédique d’Albert résolvait en effet les problèmes les plus urgents qui arrêtaient alors le mouvement général de la pensée. Sa vaste entreprise permettait d’entrer en contact avec tous les grands résultats de science antique, ou étrangère, sans aller à des sources à peine abordables, à cause de leur rareté, sous le régime des manuscrits. Albert lui-même, malgré des conditions exceptionnellement favorables, déclare qu’il a dû recueillir les écrits fragmentaires d’Aristote avec difficulté et un peu partout : quæ diligenter quæsivi per diversas mundi regiones. Mineral., l. III, tr. I, c. I. C’est ainsi que nous savons qu’il découvrit au fond de l’Italie, en 1256, le De motibus progressivis animalium, tr. I, c. I, ad finem.

D’autre part les sources elles-mêmes faisaient double et triple emploi, et elles étaient souvent si difficiles à utiliser, à raison de l’obscurité des traductions, que des hommes d’étude comme Robert Grossetête et Roger Bacon renoncèrent à s’en servir.

Enfin, en 1210 et 1215, des condamnations ecclésiastiques avaient prohibé l’usage des écrits d’Aristote, autres que la logique, dans l’enseignement des écoles de Paris, c’est-à-dire au centre même de la vie intellectuelle d’alors. En 1231, Grégoire IX avait songé, il est vrai, à une correction des livres d’Aristote, mais le projet n’eut pas de suite. Albert, en incorporant les œuvres du Stagirite dans les siennes, et en rectifiant ses théories opposées à la foi, résolvait le problème de l’acceptation d’Aristote dans la société chrétienne. Ce fut, en somme, l’utilité de premier ordre et l’à-propos de l’entreprise d’Albert qui firent son extraordinaire succès.

Pour réaliser son dessein, Albert ne songea pas, comme Vincent de Beauvais, à constituer une simple bibliothèque scientifique avec des extraits et des abrégés d’une multitude d’écrits peu abordable aux gens d’étude, il chercha à réaliser une encyclopédie formant un corps organique et embrassant l’ensemble du savoir humain tel qu’il était possible de l’exposer en ce temps. Pour cela, il adopta une classification ou distribution des sciences empruntée, dans ses grandes lignes, à l’antiquité et répartit le savoir humain en trois sections générales : les sciences logiques, physiques et morales. La seconde division, qui est la principale, porte aussi le nom de philosophie réelle et embrasse les sciences physiques ou naturelles, les mathématiques et la métaphysique. Placé entre les divisions classiques d’une part et la surabondance des matériaux littéraires de l’autre, Albert n’arrive pas toujours à mettre un ordre bien formel entre plusieurs de ses traités. Il cherche d’ordinaire à se maintenir dans les cadres tracés par Aristote et les anciens péripatéticiens. Mais en différents points, son œuvre les déborde de beaucoup. Albert incorpore, en effet, à son encyclopédie, non seulement tout ce qui lui vient d’Aristote, mais encore ce que lui apprennent ses commentateurs, ce qu’il sait de Platon, les sources grecques, latines et arabes, auxquelles il joint ses recherches et ses expériences personnelles, qui, dans certains domaines, sont très importantes, si bien que son critique passionné, Roger Bacon, a dû reconnaître l’étendue de ses observations : homo studiossimus est, et vidit infinita, et habuit expensum ; et ideo multapotuit colligere in pelago actorum infinito. Opera, édit. Brewer, p. 327.

Quant à sa méthode d’exposition, on l’a appelée avec assez de raison une paraphrase, et rapprochée de celle d’Avicenne. Cela est exact quand Albert interprète Aristote, mais en beaucoup d’endroits, il ne travaille pas sur Aristote. Il s’est d’ailleurs expliqué lui-même clairement sur son procédé au début même de ses travaux sur les sciences physiques et naturelles : Erit autem modus noster in hoc opere, Aristotelis ordinem et sententiam sequi, et dicere ad explanationem ejus et ad probatione ejus quæcumque necessaria esse videbuntur, ita tamen quod textus ejus nulla fiat mentio. Et præter hoc disgressiones faciemus, declarantes dubia subeuntia, et supplentes quæcumque minus dicta in sententia philosophi obscuritatem quibusdam attulerunt. Distinguemus autem totum hoc opus per titulos capitulorum, et ubi titulus ostendit simpliciter materiam capituli, sciatur hoc capitulum esse de serie librorum Arsitotelis. Ubicumque qutem in titulo præsignatur quod disgressio fit, ibi additum est ex nobis ad suppletionem vel probationem inductum. Taliter autem procedento libros perficiemus eodem numero et nominibus quibus fecit libros suos Aristoteles. Et addemus eliam alicubi partes librorum imperfectorum, et alicubi libros intermissos vel omissos, quos vel Aristoteles non fecit, et forte si fecit, ad nos non pervenerunt. Physic., l. I, tr. I, c. I.

La méthode adoptée par Albert avait l’avantage de fournir à ses contemporains une somme énorme de connaissances positives. C’était là d’ailleurs le but poursuivi par l’infatigable encyclopédiste. Les inconvénients de son système se traduisaient par contre dans le développement excessif de son œuvre, et le manque partiel de précision dans son interprétation d’Aristote. Mais ces inconvénients étaient presque inhérents aux conditions qui présidèrent à la création de l’œuvre d’Albert et en commandèrent le mode d’exécution.

Les doctrines d’Albert représentent pour le fond les théories d’Aristote, rectifié sur les points où il pouvait se trouver en conflit avec l’enseignement chrétien. Dans le domaine des sciences naturelles surtout, c’est le Stagirite qui est son docteur. Toutefois il déclare qu’Aristote n’est pas pour lui un dieu, mais un homme qui a pu se tromper comme les autres, et à l’occasion il n’hésite pas à le contredire. Albert a d’ailleurs soin de répéter à maintes reprises qu’il a pour but d’exposer les doctrines des péripatéticiens et non de les faire siennes, ce qui trahit sa préoccupation de respecter la position encore hésitante de l’autorité ecclésiastique à l’égard d’Aristote.

Néanmoins, on doit reconnaître que c’est par l’action d’Albert que le péripatétisme a surtout accompli son entrée chez les lettrés chrétiens, et a conquis ses lettres de naturalisation dans l’Eglise. Albert fait d’ailleurs, dans son exposé philosophique, une part importante à Platon qu’il connaît par plusieurs de ses écrits originaux et leurs dérivés alexandrins. On a souvent rapporté sa parole qui déclare qu’on ne peut devenir philosophe que par Aristote et Platon à la fois : Scias quod non perfecitur homo in philosophia, nisi ex scientia duarum philosophiarum Aristotelis et Platonis. Metaph., l. I, tr. V, c. XV. Cette formule représente assez son point de vue, surtout dans les questions métaphysiques où, à l’exemple d’autres philosophes antérieurs, il rectifie et complète Aristote par Platon. Les grandes lignes de son système ne sont pas toujours très fermes et très nettes, comme chez Thomas d’Aquin. Néanmoins il a des vues et des analyses quelquefois très pénétrantes, qui supportent le parallèle avec la manière de son disciple. Mais on doit le dire, la gloire et l’influence d’Albert consistent moins dans la construction d’un système de philosophie originale, que dans la sagacité et l’effort qu’il a déployés pour porter à la connaissance de la société lettrée du moyen âge le résumé des connaissances humaines déjà acquises, créer une nouvelle et vigoureuse poussée intellectuelle dans son siècle, et gagner définitivement à Aristote les meilleurs esprits du moyen âge.

L’action d’Albert et son succès furent énormes, de son vivant même et après sa mort. Ulrich Engelbert, un de ses auditeurs, traduit ainsi l’étonnement où l’œuvre d’Albert jeta ses contemporains, quand il définit son maître : Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit. De summo bono, tr. III, c. IV.

Le témoignage de ses principaux adversaires que trouva Albert de son vivant est surtout à retenir, car plus que toute autre donnée, il est significatif. Siger de Brabant, le chef de l’averroïsme parisien, ne nomme, pour les combattre, que deux contemporains, Albert et Thomas, qu’il qualifie ainsi : Præcipui viri in philosophia Albertus et Thomas. De anima intellectiva, III, p. 94. Roger Bacon, le critique passionné et injuste d’Albert, nous montre à quel degré d’influence et de renommée l’œuvre du maître était parvenue quand, en 1266, il écrit ces paroles : " La foule des gens d’étude, des hommes réputés auprès de beaucoup pour très savants, et un très grand nombre de personnes judicieuses estiment, bien qu’elles se trompent en cela, que les latins sont déjà en possession de la philosophie, qu’elle est complète et écrite dans leur langue. Elle a été, en effet, composée de mon temps et publiée à Paris. On cite son auteur comme autorité, car de même que dans les écoles on allègue Aristote, Avicenne et Averroès, ainsi fait-on avec lui. Et cet homme vit encore, et il a eu, de son vivant, une autorité qu’aucun homme n’eut jamais en matière de doctrine. " Opera, édit. Brewer, p. 30.

Cette influence d’Albert se constate en outre dans les écrits du XIIIe siècle et des siècles suivants, où les productions de tout ordre ne cessent de lui faire des emprunts. Cette persuasion de l’universalité scientifique d’Albert alla même à lui faire attribuer un grand nombre d’ouvrages à la composition desquels il est certainement étranger, et spécialement les ouvrages d’alchimie, de magie et autres sciences occultes pour lesquelles Albert n’eut jamais de goût. Le cycle de légendes, toutes plus merveilleuses les unes que les autres, qui se forma autour du nom d’Albert, est aussi la conséquence de la réputation sans pareille qu’il s’était faite chez ses contemporains dans le domaine des sciences physiques et naturelles.

Rundbogenfenster in der Pfarrkirche Sitzendorf an der Schmida


II. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT SUR LA THÉOLOGIE.

L’action d’Albert dans le domaine de la théologie a été moins éclatante que dans celui de la philosophie. C’est lui cependant quia inauguré le mouvement dont saint Thomas d’Aquin est devenu le chef. Albert a le premier utilisé les nouvelles connaissances philosophiques pour les mettre au service de la constitution d’un corps de théologie. S’il n’a eu dans ses essais ni la réserve ni la fermeté de Thomas d’Aquin, manquant de son génie sobre et synthétique, il n’a pas hésité néanmoins sur le parti que la science sacrée pouvait tirer de la science profane. Dans cette tentative, il a substitué les conceptions philosophiques d’Aristote à celles de Platon qui formaient en différents point la substruction du dogme augustinien, et a préparé la voie à Thomas d’Aquin, le disciple dont la réputation a surpassé et effacé la sienne.

Albert n’a pas constitué, à proprement parler, une école théologique indépendante. Thomas, qui a repris et poussé à un degré bien autrement supérieur la direction qu’il avait inaugurée, a donné son nom et son cachet définitif à la nouvelle direction théologique que l’Eglise catholique a considérée comme s’identifiant le mieux à son enseignement officiel.

Il se forma à Cologne, dans le cours du XVe siècle, une école albertiste. Elle était représentée spécialement par le collège Laurentien (bursa Laurentii), tandis que le collège du Mont suivait saint Thomas. Heymeric van de Velde (de Campo) écrivit trois traités sur la philosophie d’Albert le Grand pour l’opposer à celle de saint Thomas. L’ordre des frères prêcheurs fut étranger à cette tentative qui traduit l’état de décadence où étaient tombées les sciences philosophiques et théologiques.

A. et Ch. Jourdain, Recherches critiques sur l’âge et l’origine des traductions latines d’Aristote, Paris, 1843, p. 310-358 ; Fr. Rogeri Bacon opera quædam hactenus inedita, édit. J. S. Brewer, Londres, 1859, p. 30 sq., 327 et passim ; P. Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et l’averroïsme latin au XIIIe siècle, Fribourg (Suisse), 1899, passim, surtout les deux premiers chapitres ; O. d’Assailly, Albert le Grand, l’ancien monde devant le nouveau, Paris, 1870 ; Reinhard de Liechty, Albert le Grand et saint Thomas d’Aquin, ou la science au moyen âge, Paris, 1880 ; G. von Hertling, Albertus Magnus, Beiträge zu seiner Würdigung, Cologne, 1881 ; J. Bach, Des Albertus Magnus Verhältniss zu der Erkenntnisslehre der Griechen, Lateiner, Araber und Juden, Vienne, 1881 ; K. Zell, Albertus Magnus als Erklärer der Aristoteles (Der Katholik, t. LXIX, p. 166-178) ; G. Endriss, Albertus Magnus als Interpret der Aristotelisohen Metaphysik, Munich, 1886 ; M. Joël, Verhältniss Albert der Grossen zu Moses Maimonides, Breslau, 1863 ; B. Haneberg, Zur Erkenntnisslehre von Ibn Sina und Albertus Magnus (Abhandlungen Bayer-Akad. Wissensch., Munich, 1866-68, XI, I, 189-268) ; H. de Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l’organisation et de leurs progrès, Paris, 1845, t. II, p. 1-95 ; F.-A. Pouchet, Histoire des sciences naturelles au moyen âge, ou Albert le Grand et son époque considérés comme point de départ de l’école expérimentale, Paris, 1853 ; L. Choulant, Albertus Magnus in seiner Bedeutung für die Naturwissenschaften, historisch und bibliographisch dargestelt (Janus, Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Literatur der Medicin, 1846, p. 127-160, 687-690) ; Bormans, Mémoire sur les livres d’histoire naturelle d’Albert le Grand (Bulletin de l’Académie royale de Belgique, XIX, 1852) ; F. X. Pfeifer, Harmonische Beziehungen zwischen Scholastik und moderner Naturwissenschaft mit spezieller Rücksicht auf Albertus Magnus und Thomas von Aquino, Augsbourg, 1881 ; E. Meyer, Albertus Magnus ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Botanik im XIII Jahrhundert (Linnäa, 1836, t. X, p. 641-741 ; 1837, t. XI, p. 545) ; J. Meyer, C. Jessen, Alberti Magni De vegetabilibus libri septem, Berlin, 1867 ; S. Fellner, Albertus Magnus als Botaniker, Vienne, 1881 ; Buhle, De fontibus unde Albertus Magnus libris XXVI animalium materiam hauserit (Commentationes Societ. regiæ scientiarum Gottingensis, 1773-1774, t. XII, p. 94-115) ; M. Glossner, Das objectiv Princip. De aristot. scholast. Philosophie, besonders Albrecht des Gr. Lehre vom objectiven Ursprung, verglichen mit dem subjectiv Princip der neueren Philosophie, Ratisbonne, 1880 ; W. Feiler, Die Moral des Albertus Mag., Leipzig, 1891 ; A. Schneider, Die psychologie Alberts des Gr., Munster, 1903. Sur l’école albertine de Cologne. – Bianco, Die atte Universität Köln, t. I, Cologne, 1855 ; Paquot, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire littéraire des dix-sept provinces, Louvain, 1770, t. I, p. 478 ; Goethals, Histoire des lettres, des sciences et des arts en Belgique, Bruxelles, 1840, t. I, p. 47.

ALBERT LE GRAND. Les XXXII sermones de Eucharistia qui lui sont attribués. Nous ne plaçons pas sans une expresse réserve les XXXII sermons sur l’eucharistie parmi les œuvres authentiques d’Albert le Grand. Les plus anciens catalogues des œuvres d’Albert, ceux de Bernard Guidonis et de Henri de Herfordia, ne les mentionnent pas, et les manuscrits les attribuent, quoique à tort, plus souvent à Thomas d’Aquin qu’à Albert le Grand. Weiss, Primordia novæ bibliographiæ, p. 27. On les trouve même parmi les œuvres de saint Bonaventure, Bassano, 1767, t. III, p. 756-951. C’est donc un ouvrage vague. Pierre de Prusse déclare toutefois dans sa vie d’Albert, édit. d’Anvers, 1621, p. 181, avoir vu l’original au couvent de Cologne, écrit partiellement et corrigé de la main de l’auteur. Le Dr G. Jacob, qui a donné une édition critique de ces sermons (Ratisbonne, 1893), admet aussi l’authenticité. Un passage de ces sermons, fréquemment imprimés à la fin du XVe siècle, a fourni le prétexte aux protestants, depuis la confession de foi d’Augsbourg (1530), d’accuser les catholiques d’enseigner une doctrine erronée sur la satisfaction du Christ et les effets de l’eucharistie. Les théologiens catholiques n’ont cessé d’opposer un démenti formel à ces accusations sans fondement. L’origine de cette accusation est dans le passage suivant tiré du premier des sermons attribués à Albert : Secunda causa institutionis hujus sacramenti est sacrificium altaris, contra quandam quotidianam delictorum nostrorum rapinam, ut, SICUT CORPUS DOMINI SEMEL OBLATUM EST IN CRUCE PRO DEBITO ORIGINALI, SIC OFFERATUR JUGITER PRO NOSTRIS QUOTIDIANIS DELICTIS. Cette formule est inexacte, mais il ne semble pas que dans la pensée de son auteur elle ait le sens restrictif qu’elle paraît comporter, puisque dans le même sermon il fait dire à Jésus-Christ : Pro debitis omnium sufficiens sacrificium in cruce offerebam. La doctrine d’ailleurs exposée ex professo par Albert dans ses autres traités sur l’eucharistie et dans ses commentaires sur les Sentences est correcte : Dico quod justificatio naturæ ad causam meritoriam relata, quæ est meritoria secundum condignum, refertur ad passionem Christi, quia meruit nobis solutionem a peccato, ad quam sequitur justificatio… Relata autem ad causam sacramentalem… Secundum debitum originalis (peccati) refertur ad baptismum, secundum debitum actualis refertur ad pœnitentiam, si est post baptismum. IV Sent., l. III, dist. XIX, a. 1, solutio. Quant à l’eucharistie, elle n’est pas ordonnée contre le péché, mais bien contre les suites du péché qu’on peut appeler la faiblesse spirituelle : Si considerentur reliquiæ (peccati) secundum defectum boni, cujus longus defectus inediam inducit boni naturalis secundum destitutionem sui in seipso, sicut longus defectus cibi inducit inediam et defectum boni corporis in seipso, sic contra reliquias peccati ordinatur sacramentum Eucharistiæ per modum medicinæ. De Eucharistia, dist. VI, tr. I, c. II, 3. Voir N. Paulus, Une prétendue " doctrine monstrueuse " sur le sacrifice de la messe, Revue anglo-romaine, Paris, 1896, t. I, p. 252-260.

Article rédigé par P. MANDONNET. Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique

SOURCE : http://www.cathoweb.org/catho-bliotheque/culture-catholique/biographies/biographie-de-saint-albert-le.html


Leçon des Matines 1960

Albert, surnommé le Grand pour sa science extraordinaire, naquit à Lauingen sur le Danube, en Souabe, et reçut dès l’enfance une éducation soignée. Il quitta sa patrie pour faire ses études et, pendant son séjour à Padoue, sur les conseils du bienheureux Jourdain, Maître général de l’Ordre des Prêcheurs, il demanda, malgré l’opposition de son oncle, à être reçu dans la famille Dominicaine. Admis parmi les frères, il se distingua par l’observance religieuse et la piété, il aima ardemment la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie et brûla du zèle des âmes. Il fut envoyé à Cologne pour achever ses études. Ensuite, il fut nommé lecteur à Hildesheim, à Fribourg, à Ratisbonne et à Strasbourg. Il acquit une grande renommée dans son enseignement à Paris. Il eut pour disciple préféré Thomas d’Aquin et fut le premier à reconnaître et à proclamer la profondeur de son esprit. A Anagni, devant le Souverain Pontife Alexandre IV, il réfuta Guillaume qui, avec une audace impie, attaquait les Ordres mendiants et il fut ensuite nommé évêque de Ratisbonne. Il sut admirablement donner des conseils et régler des différends, et on put l’appeler à juste titre médiateur de paix. Il composa de très nombreux écrits sur presque toutes les sciences, et surtout les sciences sacrées, il écrivit de façon remarquable sur le Sacrement admirable de l’autel. Très illustre par ses vertus et ses miracles, il mourut dans le Seigneur, en 1280. Le Pape Pie XI accrut le culte qui, par autorisation des Pontifes Romains, lui était rendu depuis longtemps déjà dans plusieurs diocèses et dans l’Ordre des Prêcheurs et, accueillant favorablement le vœu de la Sacrée Congrégation des Rites, il lui décerna le titre de Docteur et étendit sa fête à l’Église universelle. Pie XII le constitua Patron céleste auprès de Dieu de ceux qui étudient les sciences naturelles.

Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

« Il fut nommé à juste titre un pacificateur »

Saint Albert. — Jour de mort : 15 novembre 1280. Tombeau : à Cologne, dans l’église paroissiale Saint André. Vie : Saint Albert, le saint allemand, « la lumière de l’Allemagne », surnommé le Grand à cause de sa science éminente, naquit à Lauingen, sur le Danube, en 1193, de la noble famille des Bollstaedt. Il fit ses études à Padoue, où l’influence du Bienheureux Jourdain, second général de l’Ordre des Dominicains, le décida à entrer dans cet Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, récemment fondé. Bientôt il fut envoyé en Allemagne, où il exerça le professorat dans différentes villes, spécialement à Cologne ; c’est là qu’il eut pour élève saint Thomas d’Aquin. Il reçut à Paris, en 1240, le grade de maître en théologie. Il y avait grande affluence à ses cours. En 1254, il fut élu provincial de son Ordre pour l’Allemagne. Il séjourna longtemps à la cour du pape Alexandre Il, qui le nomma, en 1259, évêque de Ratisbonne ; mais il revint, en 1263, à Cologne pour reprendre en main la direction de son Ordre, œuvre qui fut couronnée du plus grand succès. Son action comme conseiller, comme pacificateur et comme directeur spirituel reçut d’abondantes bénédictions de Dieu. Il mourut à Cologne, à l’âge de 87 ans. Le 16 décembre 1931, le pape Pie XI l’a mis au nombre des saints et élevé au rang de docteur de l’Église. Le grand œuvre de sa vie fut sa production littéraire qui remplit 21 volumes. Ce sont, pour une part importante, des commentaires d’Aristote, qui fut ainsi révélé à l’Occident, et de la Sainte Écriture. La légende raconte qu’Albert le Grand aurait jeté les plans de la cathédrale de Cologne ; ce n’est certainement pas exact. En réalité, il a jeté les plans d’une nouvelle et puissante cathédrale, « de la nouvelle cathédrale de la philosophie chrétienne, élevée sur les fondations et sur les piliers de la pensée et de la conception aristotélicienne, que le disciple de saint Albert, saint Thomas d’Aquin, a achevée » (Söhngen). — La Messe est du commun des docteurs de l’Église (In medio.

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/15-11-St-Albert-le-Grand-eveque


Inventario dei beni storici e artistici della diocesi di Bergamo: Sant'Alberto Magno, dipinto, secolo XVII 


Saint Albert le Grand (+ 1280)

Selon les conceptions médiévales, Albert, qui avait plus de cinquante ans, était un homme âgé. Il faisait partie de ces prêcheurs qui avaient été attirés à l’ordre et revêtus de l’habit dominicain par Jourdain de Saxe lui-même, successeur de saint Dominique. Cela avait eu lieu en 1229 à Padoue, où Albert – qui n’était déjà plus un tout jeune homme – étudiait à l’université de la ville. Né à Lauingen en Souabe d’une famille de fonctionnaires ou de militaires, c’était un homme circonspect, à qui il fallait du temps pour se former et s’orienter.

Tel fut le cas pour son entrée dans l’ordre. Assez longtemps, il fréquenta le couvent des prêcheurs de Padoue; il songeait à y entrer, mais ne se décidait pas: il craignait de ne pouvoir en supporter les austérités. Il fut persuadé par l’infatigable Jourdain. Albert lui-même a souvent évoqué l’histoire de sa vocation, et Gérard de Frachet, autre prêcheur, en a fait le récit dans sa Vie des frères: ” Il rêva une nuit qu’il était entré dans l’ordre des prêcheurs, mais l’avait bientôt abandonné. En se réveillant, il se réjouit de n’avoir pas pris l’habit de l’ordre et se dit à lui-même: “Je vois bien que ma crainte de devenir frère prêcheur était justifiée.” Mais, continue Gérard de Frachet, ce même jour Albert entendit un sermon de Jourdain qui décrivait précisément le dilemme où il se trouvait et montrait la crainte de ne pouvoir tenir comme une tentation du démon. Le jeune Albert, bouleversé par ces paroles, alla aussitôt après le sermon trouver Jourdain et lui demanda: “Maître, qui vous a fait lire dans mon coeur ?” Et il s’ouvrit à lui de ses projets et de son rêve. Mais le maître de l’ordre lui répondit avec assurance: “Je te promets, mon fils, que si tu entres dans notre ordre, tu ne l’abandonneras jamais”, et il le lui répéta plusieurs fois. Sur une assurance aussi ferme, Albert se tourna de grand coeur vers l’ordre des prêcheurs et entra aussitôt au convent. “

Selon l’usage, il fut envoyé dans sa patrie, l’Allemagne. Il fit à Cologne son noviciat et ses études théologiques, et accéda au sacerdoce. Aussitôt on le nomma lecteur dans différents couvents récemment fondés de la province allemande de l’ordre: car, selon les constitutions, aucun couvent ne pouvait être fondé s’il ne disposait pas d’un lecteur, chargé de compléter la formation théologique des frères (le prieur du couvent lui-même devait suivre les cours du lecteur). Il ne s’agissait d’ailleurs pas de hautes spéculations théologiques, mais plutôt d’un apport théologique à la pastorale. Manifestement il y avait peu de lecteurs dans la province, c’est pourquoi Albert exerça cette charge successivement à Hildesheim, Ratisbonne, Fribourg et Strasbourg. C’est alors -entre 1234 et 1242 -que parurent ses premières oeuvres, entre autres le début d’un Traité des vertus et l’une de ses oeuvres les plus populaires, la Louange de Marie.

En 1242, il fut envoyé par le maître de l’ordre à la faculté de théologie de Paris pour y enseigner en tant que bachelier et y obtenir le grade de maître. Le bachelier, à peu près comparable au professeur assistant d’aujourd’hui, devait faire une année un cours d’Écriture sainte et, l’année suivante, se consacrer aux commentaires des quatre livres des Sentences de Pierre Lombard, alors la plus importante oeuvre de théologie.

Les deux cours se donnaient sous la direction du maître, dont le statut correspondait à celui du professeur d’aujourd’hui. Ayant passé l’examen de maîtrise, Albert se vit attribuer en 1245 une des deux chaires de théologie qui, à Paris, avaient été confiées à l’ordre des prêcheurs. Ces chaires n’étaient accordées que pour trois ans: on désirait donner la possibilité d’enseigner à de nombreux frères qualifiés. Il était d’usage que les cours fussent données dans la ” maison ” du professeur: en l’occurrence, au couvent Saint-Jacques qui se trouva bientôt trop petit, tant les étudiants se pressaient aux cours d’Albert. Quelques-uns de ses collègues, peut-être un peu jaloux, le dénigrèrent comme ” novateur ” : en cela ils n’avaient pas tort, car Albert introduisit dans ses cours la pensée d’Aristote. C’était une entreprise audacieuse: en 1215, le légat du pape à Paris avait interdit de se servir, pour les cours de la faculté de théologie, des oeuvres dAristote portant sur les sciences naturelles et sur la métaphysique. Le pape Grégoire IX avait renouvelé cette interdiction en 1231, mais en même temps avait nommé une commission de maîtres chargés d’examiner la Physique du philosophe antique. Presque rien n’avait encore été fait lorsque maître Albert se mit à l’ouvrage. La tâche cadrait bien avec ses intérêts personnels. Bien que ne disposant que de traductions latines assez défectueuses, il réussit à insérer la philosophie aristotélicienne dans la théologie scolastique.

Il procéda à ce travail avec un esprit libre de préjugés. Il écrit à peu près ceci: ” Nous n’avons pas, dans les sciences naturelles, à approfondir la façon dont le Créateur, selon sa volonté libre, s’est servi de sa création pour faire des merveilles où sa toute-puissance se manifeste; nous avons plutôt à rechercher ce qui peut arriver dans la nature de façon naturelle par la causalité propre aux choses de la nature. ” Ailleurs il dit tout net : ” Je n’ai rien à voir avec les miracles quand je traite des sciences physiques. ” Et c’est à partir de recherches empiriques qu’il se formait une opinion: ” Il faut bien du temps avant de pouvoir affirmer que dans une observation toute erreur est exclue. Préparer l’observation d’une certaine façon ne suffit pas, il faut la répéter sous les aspects les plus divers, afin de pouvoir trouver avec certitude la véritable cause de ce qui se manifeste. ” Cette méthode empirique, aujourd’hui, va de soi: mais c’était une innovation audacieuse, en un temps où, derrière chaque événement naturel surprenant, on supposait aussitôt un miracle, une intervention immédiate de Dieu.

Au cours de ses trois ans de séjour à Paris naquirent les premiers écrits philosophiques d’Albert, début d’une grande oeuvre qui devait l’occuper constamment jusqu’à sa mort. En 1248, il repartit pour Cologne afin d’y diriger le studium generale (ou centre d’études supérieures) de l’ordre. Outre un travail d’organisation, il se consacrait surtout à l’enseignement de la théologie et de la philosophie. Et parmi les étudiants qui, de tous pays, venaient se rassembler à Cologne, il y avait Thomas d’Aquin. Comme il était courant alors, il écrivait les cours du maître, et nous possédons encore de ces notes de cours, difficiles à lire et détériorées car il les emportait partout avec lui. Thomas, dans ses écrits, n’a jamais fait allusion à ce qu’il devait à Albert: une remarque aussi personnelle ne correspondait pas à sa réserve. Mais il l’a souvent cité; mieux encore, il l’a placé, en tant qu’autorité scientifique, au rang des auteurs célèbres de la tradition -et c’est là le plus grand éloge qu’on pouvait faire alors d’un auteur contemporain. Surtout, Thomas a hérité d’Albert cette liberté d’esprit qui devrait aller de soi quand on traite de physique et de philosophie, et qui caractérisait son professeur. Ainsi, Thomas écrivait quelques années plus tard : ” La vérité de notre foi devient la risée de l’incroyant quand un chrétien, ne possédant pas les connaissances scientifiques suffisantes, tient pour article de foi quelque chose qui n’en est pas en réalité et qui, à la lumière d’un examen scientifique approfondi, se révèle une erreur. ” Albert aurait pu écrire cette phrase : elle est née de son esprit.

A la différence de Thomas, Albert avait, entre 1248 et 1274, assumé des fonctions dirigeantes dans l’ordre et dans l’Église. De 1254 à 1257 il fut provincial de la province d’Allemagne qui s’étendait alors dUtrecht à Riga et de Hambourg à l’Autriche. Sa fonction de provincial l’obligeait à visiter les couvents de prêcheurs et de dominicaines, qui étaient alors au moins quarante-cinq. Il commença par rappeler l’obligation pour les prêcheurs de ne voyager qu’à pied et reprit sévèrement un prieur qui s’était rendu à cheval au chapitre provincial. C’est ainsi qu’il se rendait d’un couvent à l’autre, avec son secrétaire – alors qu’il avait plus de soixante ans. On n’a pas conservé de comptes rendus de ces visites, mais deux documents intéressants sont parvenus jusqu’à nous : les observations personnelles qu’il avait faites au cours de ses pérégrinations et groupées sous les titres Livre des animaux et Livre des plantes. Tout ce qu’il rencontrait l’intéressait, et le soir, dans quelque couvent ou hospice de voyageurs, il s’asseyait pour noter ses remarques – par exemple, sur une méduse qu’il avait observée au bord de la mer: ” Une fois tirée de l’eau, elle resta allongée immobile, perdant sa forme, coula comme un blanc d’oeuf et s’effondra. Lorsque nous la remîmes à l’eau, elle y resta un moment sans bouger, puis retrouva sa forme hémisphérique et avança, comme auparavant, par des mouvements d’extension et de contraction. “

L’événement décisif de ces années fut pour lui un voyage à la cour pontificale, à Anagni, où il défendit devant le pape Alexandre l’ordre attaqué par quelques professeurs de l’université de Paris. Le pape le retint quelques mois à sa cour et le chargea d’enseigner à l’École pontificale: il y donna des cours sur l’évangile de saint Jean et les épîtres pastorales.

Mais lorsque enfin, libéré de sa charge de provincial, il put regagner sa cellule conventuelle à Cologne, ce furent les bourgeois de cette ville qui le firent pénétrer dans la vie politique. En 1252, déjà, il avait servi de médiateur entre les bourgeois et le belliqueux archevêque Conrad de Hochstaden : il s’agissait surtout alors de droit de douane. Lors de ce second arbitrage, en 1257, on en était arrivé à une véritable petite guerre entre la ville et l’archevêque, guerre que celui-ci prolongeait en imposant aux bourgeois des restrictions pour leur commerce et en exigeant d’eux des modifications de leur administration. Il fallut à Albert et aux autres arbitres des semaines d’étude pour voir clair dans ces tractations malaisées, car il n’y avait guère alors de droit écrit et l’on invoquait toujours le droit coutumier. Lorsque enfin on put préciser les limites des droits tant de la ville que de l’archevêque, on estima avoir fait le maximum de ce qui était possible. Les bourgeois furent visiblement très satisfaits du rôle d’arbitre qu’avait joué Albert: au cours des années suivantes, ils lui demandèrent de jouer ce rôle assez souvent, simplement à cause de sa personnalité (car il n’était nullement juriste) et de sa réputation de ” savant universel “. Ces braves bourgeois ne devaient guère, pourtant, avoir lu ses oeuvres.

Il était plongé dans ces questions lorsque le pape le nomma évêque de Ratisbonne (ville libre impériale de Bavière). Son activité n’y fut pas de longue durée, mais les circonstances de cette nomination nous éclairent également sur sa personnalité. Le maître de l’ordre, Humbert de Romans, était depuis quelque temps au fait des intentions du pape et n’approuvait pas cette élection: il écrivit à Albert pour le conjurer de refuser, se fondant sur les décisions de plusieurs chapitres généraux qui n’autorisaient l’acceptation d’une telle charge que dans des cas exceptionnels. ” Qui de nous, qui des mendiants résistera à l’attrait de dignités ecclésiastiques, lui écrivait-il, si vous y succombez aujourd’hui – Ne citera-t-on pas votre exemple comme excuse -Qui, parmi les laïcs, ne se sentira scandalisé, qui ne dira que, loin d’aimer la pauvreté, nous ne la subissons que jusqu’au moment où nous pouvons nous en défaire ? ” Et la conclusion était pathétique: ” Plutôt que de voir mon fils bien-aimé dans la chaire épiscopale, je préférerais le voir au cercueil. “

Le zèle inquiet d’Humbert de Romans était justifié: qu’un moine mendiant fût évêque de Ratisbonne – et par là même prince d’Empire – il y avait là une contradiction. Mais par ailleurs on peut assurer qu’était justifiée aussi l’inquiétude du pape devant l’état affligeant du diocèse, dont l’évêque n’avait échappé qu’en se démettant de sa charge à un procès imminent pour dissipation des biens d’Église et autres graves abus.

Albert se décida à accepter ce siège épiscopal avec l’intention d’y renoncer dès qu’il ne serait plus nécessaire. En un an il réussit à remettre en ordre la situation financière et, avec l’aide de quelques abbés bénédictins et grâce à des tournées pastorales, à revivifier le service des âmes ~ qui avait été négligé. Pour la population, il était si inhabituel de voir un évêque arriver non en prince d’Empire, à cheval et en cuirasse, mais à pied, en vêtements de laine écrue, chaussé de simples sandales, qu’ils donnèrent à Albert un surnom: le ” porteur de sandales “. Quand Albert pensa avoir trouvé, en la personne du doyen de la cathédrale, un successeur possible, il alla trouver à Anagni le pape Urbain IV, le pria d’accepter sa démission et lui suggéra de désigner comme évêque de Ratisbonne le doyen Léon. Le pape fut d’accord sur tout cela. Mais au lieu de laisser Albert retourner à Cologne et reprendre ses commentaires d’Aristote, il le retint dans sa cour d’Anagni, puis l’envoya comme légat pontifical prêcher en Allemagne la croisade qu’on préparait. Pendant trois ans (1261-1264) ce septuagénaire parcourut les régions de langue allemande faisant alors partie de l’Empire. Il n’est rien resté de ces prédications. Mais nous sommes renseignés sur diverses négociations au sujet de fonctions épiscopales, ainsi que sur ses interventions comme arbitre entre évêques et bourgeois, entre religieux et seigneurs féodaux, entre évêques et religieux, et aussi entre couvents.

La mort d’Urbain IV (1264) mit fin à sa charge de légat, et Albert se retira dans le couvent des prêcheurs de Würzburg pour y rédiger son grand Commentaire sur l’évangile de saint Luc. En 1267 il s’installa dans le couvent d’études de Strasbourg, où enseignait son élève Ulrich de Strasbourg. Il est certain que lui-même y donna aussi des cours. Tout comme à Würzburg, il fut appelé à arbitrer des litiges. A soixante-quinze ans, en 1268, il se rendit au Mecklembourg pour aplanir un différend entre la secte des johannites (conférant le baptême au nom de saint Jean-Baptiste) et le duc slave Barnim. Il ne recherchait pas de telles missions de conciliation, préférant servir l’ordre dans le recueillement de sa cellule de Strasbourg. Le maître de l’ordre lui envoya, en 1269, une lettre de remerciements qui se termine ainsi : ” Pour tout cela je te remercie, autant qu’il m’est possible, et te prie de continuer ce que tu as commencé de façon si louable, de telle sorte que ce soit pour toi un mérite, pour les frères un encouragement, pour tous ceux qui en sont témoins un exemple. “

Cependant lorsque, peu après, le maître de l’ordre lui demanda de se charger pour la seconde fois de la chaire de théologie de Paris, Albert refusa, car il ne voulait plus être mêlé à la querelle suscitée par l’université de Paris: c’est alors qu’on fit appel à son élève, Thomas d’Aquin. Mais il ne trouva pas le repos pour autant: une demande de secours lui parvint de Cologne. Alors qu’il y était comme légat, il avait travaillé à la réconciliation entre l’archevêque Engelbert, successeur de Conrad, et les bourgeois. Mais depuis lors la situation s’était aggravée. Au cours d’une expédition militaire contre la ville et ses alliés, Engelbert avait été fait prisonnier. On le retenait au château de Nideggen, dans l’Eifel. Le légat que le pape avait désigné pour cette affaire avait, sans entendre les bourgeois, pris parti pour l’archevêque et exigé sa libération. N’ayant pas été obéi, il lança l’interdit sur la ville. Pire encore: en août 1270, tout commerce avec les bourgeois de Cologne entraînait l’excommunication. C’était atteindre la ville dans ses sources vives, et le maintien de cette mesure aurait signifié sa ruine.

Au point où l’on en était, il n’était pas question de rendre une sentence arbitrale dans les formes habituelles. Pour le légat, la seule question à envisager était la totale soumission des bourgeois. Albert misa tout sur une seule carte: il se rendit auprès de l’archevêque prisonnier et eut avec lui un entretien personnel, au terme duquel celui-ci consentit à faire la paix avec la ville. Des relations contemporaines et certains des biographes d’Albert exagèrent probablement en parlant d’une ” conversion ” d’Engelbert : il était trop prince d’Empire et trop peu évêque. En tout cas, le paix de Cologne de 1271 rendit à la ville ses droits ancestraux. Le document porte aussi le sceau d’Albert. L’archevêque respecta le traité, et c’était l’essentiel. Mais le légat pontifical tenait ferme à son interdit, qui à vrai dire n’avait plus guère d’effet, car l’archevêque lui-même éleva une réclamation auprès de la curie contre cette mesure. Comme d’habitude, le procès traîna en longueur. Au concile de Lyon, Albert intervint auprès du pape en faveur de la ville: mais ce n’est qu’en 1275 que le successeur d’Engelbert put faire lever l’interdit.

Albert demeura à Cologne, dans le couvent des prêcheurs, où il enseigna et travailla à son Commentaire du livre de Job. Mais appelé en tant qu’arbitre par les corporations les plus diverses, il voyageait constamment. Il fit son dernier grand voyage en 1274 – âgé de plus de quatre-vingts ans – pour se rendre au concile de Lyon et y soutenir la confirmation par le pape de l’élection de Rodolphe de Habsbourg, désigné comme roi des Romains par les princes allemands en 1273.

Ce n’est que les toutes dernières années de sa vie que maître Albert put jouir d’une relative tranquillité. Il dictait, il faisait à l’occasion un cours et à ce sujet une légende se répandit plus tard, quand on chercha à le défendre d’avoir pratiqué la magie et d’avoir été surtout un homme de science et un philosophe ” païen ” : mais le fond de la légende est vrai en ce qu’il traduit l’amour qu’Albert portait à la Vierge Marie. Un jour, disait-on, comme il faisait un cours, la mémoire lui manqua. Alors il raconta à ses auditeurs qu’autrefois il avait eu une vision: ” Ce que je ne pouvais discerner à force d’étude, je le trouvais souvent dans la prière. Je priais constamment la Mère de Dieu, la Mère de miséricorde, lui disant que je voulais être illuminé, grâce à son intercession, de la lumière de la sagesse divine, et lui demandant de garder mon coeur ferme dans la foi afin qu’empêtré dans la philosophie, je n’en arrive pas à vaciller dans la foi au Christ. A la fin, la meilleure des mères m’apparut et me consola : “Sois fidèle à l’étude et persévérant dans la vertu, me dit-elle. Dieu veut par ta science éclairer l’Église. Mais pour que tu ne vacilles pas dans la foi, avant ta mort toute ta philosophie te sera ôtée. C’est dans ton innocence et ta sincérité d’enfant et dans la vérité de ta foi que Dieu t’enlèvera à ce monde. Et voilà le signe qui t’avertira que ton temps est arrivé dans un cours public, ta mémoire t’abandonnera.” “

Albert consacra les derniers mois de sa vie à prier et à méditer dans sa cellule. Il n’en sortait que rarement, soutenu par son secrétaire Gottfried, pour se rendre sur les tombes de ses frères. Souvent, pour se préparer à la mort, il assistait dans l’église à l’office des défunts. Il ne recevait plus aucune visite. Un témoignage contemporain nous dit: ” Un jour que l’archevêque était venu au couvent pour le voir et avait frappé à la porte de sa cellule, il entendit une voix lui répondre “Frère Albert n’est pas ici.” L’archevêque se retira et dit, les larmes aux yeux: “C’est vrai, Albert n’est plus ici.” ” Il mourut entouré des prières de ses frères, le 15 novembre 1280. (Source : Hertz, Anselm. Nils Loose, Helmuth. Dominique et les dominicains. Cerf, 1987.)

SOURCE : http://dominicains.ca/figures-dominicaines/saint-albert-le-grand/

Incoronazione di Maria tra i santi Sigismondo e Alberto - Rivolta d'Adda 


Saint Albert le Grand

1193[?]-1280

« Les Parisiens qui traversaient, en l’année 1245, la place Maubert, étaient témoins d’un bien curieux spectacle. Un homme était là, petit, frèle et débile, religieux dominicain, entouré d’un cercle épais et serré de jeunes clercs studieux et avides de s’instruire, auxquels il exposait, dans un magnifique langage, les connaissances théologiques, philosophiques et scientifiques de l’époque, leur commentant les travaux d’Aristote et d’Avicenne, leur enseignant la logique, la métaphysique, la chimie, l’astronomie, leur dévoilant le mécanisme de l’homme et des animaux, leur infusant la science prodigieuse dont il était pénétré.

Dans les rangs de cette phalange qui se pressait autour du savant, on aurait pu voir de jeunes intelligences qui devaient s’illustrer à leur tour : Roger Bacon, avec sa tunique grise et ses sandales qui annonçaient un cordelier; Thomas d’Aquin, qui devait être sanctifié, l’émule de l’illustre maître, le grand scrutateur du monde intellectuel, des facultés physiologiques et de la métaphysique; Thomas de Cantipré, Albert de Saxe, Vincent de Beauvais, Jean de Sacrobosco, Arnold de Villeneuve, Michel Scott, Robert de Sorbon, Guillaume de Saint-Amour, etc.

Cet homme, ce professeur en plein vent, qui, comme Abailard (i.e. Abélard), avait été obligé d’entraîner dans la rue la foule immense d’auditeurs que les écoles, trop petites, des cloîtres et des églises, ne pouvaient contenir, se nommait Maître Albert.

Il était né, en 1205, à Lavingen, en Souabe, et descendait de la famille des Bollstadt, qui était alors puissante, célèbre et riche, ce qui permit au jeune Albert d’aller étudier tour à tour dans les plus renommées écoles de l’Allemagne, de l’Italie et de la France; pèlerinage indispensable pour celui qui voulait réunir un vaste réseau de connaissances, à une époque où les hommes profonds étaient si rares, et où chaque savant embrassait dans ses œuvres l’universalité des sciences. On pense que ce fut dans l’Université de Pavie qu’il s’occupa sérieusement de philosophie, de mathématiques et de médecine. Ce fut encore dans celle-ci qu’il se lia avec Jordan, supérieur général de l’ordre des Frères prêcheurs, qui employa tout son ascendant pour l’incorporer dans la congrégation; car, à cette époque, les Frères prêcheurs, dominicains, ou jacobins, fondés en 1216, s’ils avaient déjà parmi eux des hommes reconnus par leur savoir et leur éloquence, tels que Jordan, Mathieu Bertrand, Garrigues, Laurent, Jean de Navarre, Michel Fabre, Jean de Saint-Alban, médecin de Philippe Auguste, etc., ne se sentaient pas encore assez forts eu égard aux immenses travaux qu’ils préparaient, et cherchaient de toutes parts des hommes capables, par leur génie, leurs talents et leur dévouement, de donner un lustre extraordinaire à la communauté.

Édifié par l’exemple de son ami, subjugué par ses discours, Albert suivit donc l’entraînement de son époque pour la vie monastique, et il prit l’habit dominicain en 1222 ou 1223. Il le fit en Italie, où, après avoir demeuré un an dans un couvent, il alla étudier à Padoue et à Bologne.

Lorsqu’il eut achevé ses études, ses chefs l’envoyèrent à Cologne, à Fribourg, à Ratisbonne, à Strasbourg, pour y ouvrir des conférences qui furent pour lui une suite de triomphes.

En l’année 1240, nous le voyons fixé à Cologne, où des biographes et des peintres le représentent dans une cellule qu’éclairent à peine quelques rayons de lumière tamisés par d’étroites verrières, entouré de quelques instruments bizarres de physique et d’astronomie, de fourneaux étrangement compliqués, de manuscrits, de minéraux, travaillant au grand œuvre.

En 1245, il est à Paris, répandant, comme nous l’avons dit, des flots de science et de philosophie.

Il ne resta dans la capitale du royaume de France que trois ans, pour courir ensuite sur les bords du Rhin, où l’on ne voulait pas être plus longtemps privé de ses lumières.

En l’année 1254, Albert est fait provincial de son ordre et visite à pied, tant ses mœurs avaient de simplicité, les diverses provinces soumises à sa juridiction. Alexandre IV, dans l’espoir de le fixer dans la capitale du monde chrétien, l’appelle à Rome et lui confère la charge de maître du sacré palais.

En 1260, une bulle du pape le nomme évêque de Ratisbonne. La cour de Rome avait pensé que sa haute vertu et son profond savoir pouvaient seuls remédier au désordre temporel et spirituel qui régnait au sein du diocèse qu’on lui confiait.

Mais au bout de trois ans, sollicité par le général des dominicains, Humbert de Romans, Albert demandait au pape et obtenait la permission d’abandonner sa prélature; il retournait dans sa chère ville de Cologne, où il avait conquis tant de gloire et goûté de si pures jouissances au milieu de ses études; et c’est avec bonheur qu’il échange un titre magnifique contre sa laborieuse mission de frère prêcheur.

Peu après le pape lui ordonne d’aller prêcher la croisade dans toute l’Allemagne et la Bohême.

En 1274, un bref de Grégoire X lui enjoint de se rendre au concile de Lyon, où sa confiance l’appelait pour y faire prévaloir, par son éloquence et son autorité, les droits de Rodolphe, roi des Romains.

Immédiatement après la session de ce concile, il revint de nouveau reprendre ses leçons publiques à Cologne, champ de gloire pour lui, mais qui fut aussi son champ funéraire, car il y mourut le 15 novembre 1289 (*).

Les funérailles du grand homme se firent avec une magnificence en rapport avec sa haute renommée. L’archevêque Sifrid et les chanoines de la cathédrale et des collégiales y assistaient, ainsi qu’une foule de gens nobles et d’hommes du peuple.

Son corps fut enterré au milieu du chœur de l’église du couvent des Jacobins, et ses entrailles furent portées à Ratisbonne, qui avait réclamé sa part des restes de son ancien évêque.

Albert le Grand, que l’on connaît encore sous les noms d’Albertus Teutonicus, Albertus de Colonia, Albertus Ratisbonensis, Albertus de Bollstadt, est parvenu à la postérité, enveloppé de je ne sais quel nuage de magie, de sorcellerie, qui est une véritable flétrissure donnée à un si grand génie. D’infimes productions, imprimées parfois en encre rouge, afin de leur donner un cachet plus cabalistique, et répandues dans les campagnes sous le nom de Secrets admirables du Grand Albert, n’ont pas peu contribué à transformer l’admirable professeur, le profond penseur du treizième siècle en un vil sorcier. Heureusement que ses œuvres sont là pour le venger de telles abominations et pour le ranger parmi les plus beaux génies qui ont illustré l’humanité. Parmi les œuvres publiées sous son nom, immense collection de vingt et un volumes in-folio, il en est, il est vrai, qui sont apocryphes; mais en défalquant ces dernières, il reste un monument qui ne jette pas moins dans une stupéfiante admiration ceux qui veulent bien les lire avec attention et sans parti pris de dénigrer. Albert le Grand est le véritable chef, au moyen âge, de l’École expérimentale. La partie philosophique et scientifique de ses ouvrages n’est au fond qu’un savant commentaire des travaux d’Aristote et d’Avicenne; mais il les a enrichis de toutes les connaissances renfermées dans les auteurs postérieurs à ces deux grands hommes, et il remplit les lacunes de ses prédécesseurs. Il fut pour l’Occident ce qu’Avicenne avait été pour l’Orient; il agrandit le champ des sciences naturelles en traçant des lois appelées à jeter sur elles le plus vif éclat.

C’est surtout dans son Traité des animaux (t. VI de l’édition de Jammy) qu’il faut juger l’évêque de Ratisbonne; c’est là, particulièrement dans les sept derniers livres qui sont du propre fonds d’Albert, que l’on peut voir un tableau exact et complet de l’état de la zoologie au treizième siècle, et découvrir le germe d’une foule de lois scientifiques que notre époque n’a fait que développer et démontrer. N’est-il pas curieux de lui voir, contrairement aux autres anatomistes, commencer l’histoire du système osseux par la description de la colonne vertébrale, base réelle de tout le premier embranchement de la série animale; de le surprendre considérant la tête comme une série de vertèbres munies de leurs appendices; essayant de déterminer les facultés de l’âme d’après les organes extérieurs du crâne, et devançant ainsi Gall et Spurzheim; descendant l’échelle zoologique depuis l’homme jusqu’à l’éponge qui en est le dernier terme; définissant très-exactement l’espèce, montrant le mécanisme au moyen duquel on fait un genre avec les espèces; posant ainsi les bases d’une véritable classification; décrivant, par ordre alphabétique, toutes les espèces animales connues; désignant nos Annélidés d’aujourd’hui sous le nom d’animalium annulosorum; décrivant dans cent soixante pages in-folio la physiologie et l’anatomie des plantes, leur sommeil, leur engourdissement nocturne, les diverses espèces connues; passant en revue les minéraux; inventant le mot affinité dans le sens que nous lui attachons aujourd’hui; déclarant positivement que les empreintes à formes organiques qu’on rencontre sur différentes pierres ne sont que des êtres pétrifiés, …

Au reste, si Albert le Grand a eu ses détracteurs, qui semblent ne l’avoir pas même lu, ou qui n’ont pas fait la part ni du temps où il écrivait, ni des nombreuses et indigestes productions qu’on a publiées sous son nom; d’autres écrivains, après l’avoir médité, après avoir fait un triage nécessaire dans cette immense encyclopédie de vingt et un volumes in-folio, ont rendu justice à l’admirable religieux dominicain, en le considérant comme le plus grand génie qui soit sorti des flancs de l’humanité. Paul Jove, Trithème, Blount, Quenstedt, Bayle, Tiedmann, Jourdain, de Gérando, Cuvier, de Blainville, Meyer, Choulant, Dafin, d’Orbigny, Villemain, Haureau, etc., et surtout, dans ces derniers temps, M. F. A. Pouchet (Histoire des sciences naturelles au moyen âge, ou Albert le Grand et son époque, Paris, 1853, in-8), montrent Albert de Bollstadt tel qu’il a été : l’Aristote chrétien.

On trouvera le catalogue complet des œuvres d’Albert le Grand dans les Scriptores ordinis praedicat des PP. Quetif et Echard, p. 171; il n’y comprend pas moins de douze pages in-folio. Fabricius (Bibl. lat. med. et inf. aetatis) a aussi fait l’analyse des vingt et un volumes des œuvres complètes du célèbre religieux. Les amateurs de livres rares tâcheront de se procurer les éditions suivantes :

I. Opus de Animalibus (sive de rerum proprietatibus), Romae, 1478, in-folio. Édition regardée comme la première de cet ouvrage. – II. De Secretis mulierum opus, 1478, in-4 gothique, très-souvent réimprimé dans le quinzième siècle. On y a fréquemment ajouté, particulièrement dans les éditions de 1643, 1655, 1662 et 1699, le Secreta virorum, qui n’est pas d’Albert le Grand. – III. Liber secretorum de virtutibus herbarum, lapidum et animalium. 1478, in-4, première édition de ce livre très-souvent réimprimé. – IV. Albertus Magnus, Ratisbonensis episcopus, ordin. Praedicator. Opera omnia, edita studio et labore P. Petri Jammy. Lugduni, 1651, 21 vol. in-fol. Collection très-recherchée et qui atteint dans les ventes le prix de 300 francs. »

A. Chéreau, article «Albert le Grand», dans Jacques Raige-Delorme et Amédée Dechambre (dir.), Dictionnaire encyclopédique des sciences médicales. [Première série]. Tome deuxième, Adh-Alg. Paris, P. Asselin, V. Masson et fils, 1865, p. 394-397

(*) Il s'agit sans doute d'une coquille. L'année admise de son décès est 1280.

* * *

Albert le Grand et l'alchimie

« Encyclopédie vivante du moyen âge, Albert, né en 1193, à Lavingen, sur le Danube, enseigna successivement la philosophie à Ratisbonne, à Cologne, à Strasbourg, à Hildesheim, enfin à Paris où le nom de la place Maubert (dérivé de Ma, abréviation de magister, et d’Albert) en rappelle encore le souvenir. Provincial de l’ordre des Dominicains, il fut nommé évêque de Ratisbonne. Mais préférant, exemple rare, l’étude des sciences aux dignités de l’Église, il se démit de ses fonctions épiscopales, et mourut, en 1280, à l’âge de quatre-vingt-sept ans, dans un couvent, près de Cologne.

Les ouvrages imprimés d’Albert le Grand forment 21 volumes in-fol. (Lyon, 1651, édit. de P. Jammi). Ce vaste recueil contient plusieurs traités qui intéressent l’histoire de la chimie.

Le petit traité de Alchimia donne des renseignements précieux sur l’état de la science au treizième siècle. L’auteur commence par déclarer qu’il est impossible de tirer quelques lumières des écrits alchimiques. « Ils sont, dit-il, vides de sens et ne renferment rien de bons… J’ai connu des abbés, des chanoines, des directeurs, des physiciens, des illettrés, qui avaient perdu leur temps et leur argent à s’occuper d’alchimie.» – Il conseille surtout aux adeptes de fuir tout rapport avec les princes et les grands : « Car si tu as, ajoute-t-il, le malheur de t’introduire auprès d’eux, ils ne cesseront pas de te demander : Eh bien, maître, comment va l’œuvre? Quand verrons-nous enfin quelque chose de bon? Et, dans leur impatience, ils finiront par te traiter de filou, de vaurien, etc., et te causeront mille ennuis. Et si tu n’obtiens aucun résultat, ils te feront sentir tout l’effet de leur colère. Si, au contraire, tu réussis, ils te garderont dans une captivité perpétuelle, afin de te faire travailler à leur profit. » Cet avertissement nous dépeint les relations des alchimistes avec les seigneurs d’alors.

Malgré quelques doutes, Albert croyait à la possibilité de la transmutation des métaux. Voici les arguments qu’il invoque à l’appui de sa croyance : « Les métaux sont tous identiques dans leur origine; ils ne diffèrent les uns des autres que par leur forme. Or la forme dépend des causes accidentelles que l’artiste doit chercher à découvrir et à éloigner; car ce sont ces causes qui entravent la combinaison régulière du soufre et du mercure, éléments de tout métal. Une matrice malada donne naissance à un enfant infirme et lépreux, bien que la semence ait été bonne; il en est de même des métaux engendrés au sein de la terre, qui leur sert de matrice : une cause accidentelle ou une maladie locale peut produire un métal imparfait. Lorsque le soufre pur rencontre du mercure pur, il se produit de l’or au bout d’un temps plus ou moins long, par l’action permanente de la nature. Les espèces sont immuables et ne peuvent, à aucune condition, être transformées les unes en les autres. Mais le plomb, le cuivre, le fer, l’argent, etc., ne sont pas des espèces, c’est une même essence, dont les formes diverses vous semblent des espèces. »

Ces arguments furent souvent reproduits par les alchimistes. Ils étaient acceptés comme des lois au beau temps des nominalistes et des réalistes.

Albert le Grand a l’un des premiers employé le mot affinité dans le sens qu’y attachent aujourd’hui les chimistes. « Le soufre, dit-il, noircit l’argent et brûle en général les métaux, à cause de l’affinité naturelle qu’il a pour eux (propter affinitatem naturae metalla adurit) » (1). – Il paraît avoir aussi appliqué pour la première fois le mot vitreolum à l’atrament vert, qui était le sulfate de fer.

Que faut-il entendre par esprit métallique et par élixir? Voici la réponse d’Albert : « Il y a quatre esprits métalliques : le mercure, le soufre, l’orpiment et le sel ammoniac, qui tous peuvent servir à teindre les métaux en rouge (or) ou en blanc (argent). C’est avec ces quatre esprits que se prépare la teinture, appelée en arabe élixir, et en latin fermentum, destinée à opérer la transsubstantiation des métaux vils en argent ou en or. » – Mais l’auteur a soin de nous avertir que l’or des alchimistes n’était pas de l’or véritable. Ce n’était probablement que du chrysocale. Il connaissait aussi le cuivre blanc (alliage de cuivre et d’arsenic), qu’il se gardait bien de prendre pour de l’argent.

Albert le Grand démontra le premier, par la synthèse, que le cinabre ou pierre rouge (lapis rubens), qui se rencontre dans les mines d’où l’on retire le vif argent, est un composé de soufre et de mercure. « On produit, dit-il, du cinabre sous forme d’une poudre rouge brillante en sublimant du mercure avec du soufre. »

Il a décrit très-exactement la préparation de l’acide nitrique, qu’il nomme eau prime, ou eau philosophique au premier degré de perfection. Il en indique en même temps les principales propriétés, surtout celles d’oxyder les métaux et de séparer l’argent de l’or. Ce qu’il appelle eau seconde était une espèce d’eau régale obtenue en mêlant quatre parties d’eau prime avec une partie de sel ammoniac. Pour avoir l’eau tierce, on devait traiter, à une chaleur modérée, le mercure blanc par l’eau seconde. Enfin l’eau quarte était le produit de distillation de l’eau tierce qui, avant d’être distillée, devait rester, pendant quatre jours, enfouie dans du fumier de cheval. Les alchimistes faisaient le plus grand cas de cette eau quarte, connue sous les noms de vinaigre des philosophes, d’eau minérale, de rosée céleste, etc. »

(1) De Rebus metallicis, Rouen, 1476.

Ferdinand Hoefer, Histoire de la physique et de la chimie : depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'à nos jours, Paris, Hachette, 1872, p. 365-367

SOURCE : http://agora.qc.ca/dossiers/Saint_Albert_le_Grand


Saint Albert the Great

Also known as

Albert of Lauingen

Albertus Magnus

Doctor Expertus

Doctor Universalis

Memorial

15 November

Profile

Son of a military nobleman. DominicanPriestTaught theology at CologneGermany, and ParisFranceTeacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Influential teacherpreacher, and administrator. Bishop of RegensburgGermany. Introduced Greek and Arabic science and philosophy to medieval Europe. Known for his wide interest in what became known later as the natural sciences – botany, biology, etc. Wrote and illustrated guides to his observations, and was considered on a par with Aristotle as an authority on these matters. Theological writerDoctor of the Church.

Born

1206 at Lauingen an der Donau, Swabia (part of modern Germany)

Died

15 November 1280 at ColognePrussia (part of modern Germany) of natural causes

Beatified

27 November 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

Canonized

16 December 1931 by Pope Pius XI

Patronage

CincinnatiOhioarchdiocese of

medical technicians

natural sciences

philosophers

schoolchildren

scientists (proclaimed on 13 August 1948 by Pope Pius XII)

students

theology students

Representation

man dressed as a Dominican bishop lecturing from a pulpit

man arguing with Saint Thomas Aquinas

Prayers

Dear Scientist and Doctor of the Church, natural science always led you to the higher science of God. Though you had an encyclopedic knowledge, it never made you proud, for you regarded it as a gift of God. Inspire scientists to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation, thus bettering the lot of the human race and rendering greater glory to God. Amen.

Additional Information

Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate

Catholic Churchmen in Science

Catholic Encyclopedia

Illustrated Catholic Family Annual

New Catholic Dictionary

Pope Benedict XVI: On Saint Albert the Great

On Union with God, by Saint Albert the Great

Saints in Art, by Margaret Tabor

Saints of the Day, by Katherine Rabenstein

books

Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints

other sites in english

1001 Patron Saints and Their Feast Days, Australian Catholic Truth Society

365 Rosaries

Breviarium SOP

Catholic Fire

Catholic Harbor

Catholic Herald

Catholic Ireland

Catholic News Agency

Catholic Online

Catholic Tradition

Cradio

Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica1911 edition

Franciscan Media

Jean Lee

John Dillon

John Paul Menenan

John Paul Meenan

Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Regina Magazine

Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Picayune, Mississippi

Saint Albert le Grand

Saints for Sinners

Saints in Rome

Saints Resource

School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Saint Andrews, Scotland

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Wanderer

Thomas Craughwell

uCatholic

Wikipedia

images

Santi e Beati

Wikimedia Commons

audio

LibriVox: On Union With God, by Saint Albert the Great

video

YouTube PlayList

e-books

On Cleaving to God, by Saint Albert the Great

webseiten auf deutsch

Alcuin

Dominikanerkirche San Andreas

Florilegium Martyrologii Romani

Kathpedia

Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon

Rheinische Geschichte

sitios en español

Orden de Predicadores

Martirologio Romano2001 edición

sites en français

Bibliothèque nationale de France

Abbé Christian-Philippe Chanut

Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique

Dominicains du Canada

La fête des prénoms

fonti in italiano

Cathopedia

Congregazione delle Cause dei Santi

L’Enciclopedia Italiana

Santi e Beati

Santo del Giorno

strony w jezyku polskim

Compendium theologicae veritatis

Readings

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8) – Saint Albert the Great

The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive what you ask. – Saint Albert the Great

He could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this Sacrament is the fruit of the tree of life. Anyone who receives this Sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death. It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and blessed is he who holds it fast. The man who feeds on Me shall live on account of Me. – Saint Albert the Great on the Eucharist

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Two things should be noted here. The first is the command that we should use this sacrament, which is indicated when Jesus says, “Do this.” The second is that this sacrament commemorates the Lord’s going to death for our sake. This sacrament is profitable because it grants remission of sins; it is most useful because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life. “The Father of spirits instructs us in what is useful for our sanctification.” And his sanctification is in Christ’s sacrifice, that is, when he offers himself in this sacrament to the Father for our redemption to us for our use. Christ could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this sacrament is the fruit of the tree of life. Anyone who receives this sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death. “It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and blessed is he who holds it fast. The man who feeds on me shall live on account of me.” Nor could he have commanded anything more lovable, for this sacrament produces love and union. It is characteristic of the greatest love to give itself as food. “Had not the men of my text exclaimed: Who will feed us with his flesh to satisfy our hunger? as if to say: I have loved them and they have loved me so much that I desire to be within them, and they wish to receive me so that they may become my members. There is no more intimate or more natural means for them to be united to me, and I to them. Nor could he have commanded anything which is more like eternal life. Eternal life flows from this sacrament because God with all sweetness pours himself out upon the blessed. – from a commentary by Saint Albert the Great on the Gospel of Luke

MLA Citation

“Saint Albert the Great“. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 November 2021. Web. 15 November 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-albert-the-great/>

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/saint-albert-the-great/


BENEDICT XVI

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Saint Albert the Great

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

One of the great masters of medieval theology is St Albert the Great. The title "Great", (Magnus), with which he has passed into history indicates the vastness and depth of his teaching, which he combined with holiness of life. However, his contemporaries did not hesitate to attribute to him titles of excellence even then. One of his disciples, Ulric of Strasbourg, called him the "wonder and miracle of our epoch".

He was born in Germany at the beginning of the 13th century. When he was still young he went to Italy, to Padua, the seat of one of the most famous medieval universities. He devoted himself to the study of the so-called "liberal arts": grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, that is, to culture in general, demonstrating that characteristic interest in the natural sciences which was soon to become the favourite field for his specialization. During his stay in Padua he attended the Church of the Dominicans, whom he then joined with the profession of the religious vows. Hagiographic sources suggest that Albert came to this decision gradually. His intense relationship with God, the Dominican Friars' example of holiness, hearing the sermons of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St Dominic's successor at the Master General of the Order of Preachers, were the decisive factors that helped him to overcome every doubt and even to surmount his family's resistence. God often speaks to us in the years of our youth and points out to us the project of our life. As it was for Albert, so also for all of us, personal prayer, nourished by the Lord's word, frequent reception of the Sacraments and the spiritual guidance of enlightened people are the means to discover and follow God's voice. He received the religious habit from Bl. Jordan of Saxony.

After his ordination to the priesthood, his superiors sent him to teach at various theological study centres annexed to the convents of the Dominican Fathers. His brilliant intellectual qualities enabled him to perfect his theological studies at the most famous university in that period, the University of Paris. From that time on St Albert began his extraordinary activity as a writer that he was to pursue throughout his life.

Prestigious tasks were assigned to him. In 1248 he was charged with opening a theological studium at Cologne, one of the most important regional capitals of Germany, where he lived at different times and which became his adopted city. He brought with him from Paris an exceptional student, Thomas Aquinas. The sole merit of having been St Thomas' teacher would suffice to elicit profound admiration for St Albert. A relationship of mutual esteem and friendship developed between these two great theologians, human attitudes that were very helpful in the development of this branch of knowlege. In 1254, Albert was elected Provincial of the Dominican Fathers' "Provincia Teutoniae" Teutonic Province which included communities scattered over a vast territory in Central and Northern Europe. He distinguished himself for the zeal with which he exercised this ministry, visiting the communities and constantly recalling his confreres to fidelity, to the teaching and example of St Dominic.

His gifts did not escape the attention of the Pope of that time, Alexander iv, who wanted Albert with him for a certain time at Anagni where the Popes went frequently in Rome itself and at Viterbo, in order to avail himself of Albert's theological advice. The same Supreme Pontiff appointed Albert Bishop of Regensburg, a large and celebrated diocese, but which was going through a difficult period. From 1260 to 1262, Albert exercised this ministry with unflagging dedication, succeeding in restoring peace and harmony to the city, in reorganizing parishes and convents and in giving a new impetus to charitable activities.

In the year 1263-1264, Albert preached in Germany and in Bohemia, at the request of Pope Urban iv. He later returned to Cologne and took up his role as lecturer, scholar and writer. As a man of prayer, science and charity, his authoritative intervention in various events of the Church and of the society of the time were acclaimed: above all, he was a man of reconciliation and peace in Cologne, where the Archbishop had run seriously foul of the city's institutions; he did his utmost during the Second Council of Lyons, in 1274, summoned by Pope Gregory X, to encourage union between the Latin and Greek Churches after the separation of the great schism with the East in 1054. He also explained the thought of Thomas Aquinas which had been the subject of objections and even quite unjustified condemnations.

He died in his cell at the convent of the Holy Cross, Cologne, in 1280, and was very soon venerated by his confreres. The Church proposed him for the worship of the faithful with his beatification in 1622 and with his canonization in 1931, when Pope Pius XI proclaimed him Doctor of the Church. This was certainly an appropriate recognition of this great man of God and outstanding scholar, not only of the truths of the faith but of a great many other branches of knowledge; indeed, with a glance at the titles of his very numerous works, we realize that there was something miraculous about his culture and that his encyclopedic interests led him not only to concern himself with philosophy and theology, like other contemporaries of his, but also with every other discipline then known, from physics to chemistry, from astronomy to minerology, from botany to zoology. For this reason Pope Pius XII named him Patron of enthusiasts of the natural sciences and also called him "Doctor universalis" precisely because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge.

Of course, the scientific methods that St Albert the Great used were not those that came to be established in the following centuries. His method consisted simply in the observation, description and classification of the phenomena he had studied, but it was in this way that he opened the door for future research.

He still has a lot to teach us. Above all, St Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science, despite certain episodes of misunderstanding that have been recorded in history. A man of faith and prayer, as was St Albert the Great, can serenely foster the study of the natural sciences and progress in knowledge of the micro- and macrocosm, discovering the laws proper to the subject, since all this contributes to fostering thirst for and love of God. The Bible speaks to us of creation as of the first language through which God who is supreme intelligence, who is the Logos reveals to us something of himself. The Book of Wisdom, for example, says that the phenomena of nature, endowed with greatness and beauty, is like the works of an artist through which, by analogy, we may know the Author of creation (cf. Wis 13: 5). With a classical similitude in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance one can compare the natural world to a book written by God that we read according to the different approaches of the sciences (cf. Address to the participants in the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 31 October 2008; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 5 November 2008, p. 6). How many scientists, in fact, in the wake of St Albert the Great, have carried on their research inspired by wonder at and gratitude for a world which, to their eyes as scholars and believers, appeared and appears as the good work of a wise and loving Creator! Scientific study is then transformed into a hymn of praise. Enrico Medi, a great astrophysicist of our time, whose cause of beatification has been introduced, wrote: "O you mysterious galaxies... I see you, I calculate you, I understand you, I study you and I discover you, I penetrate you and I gather you. From you I take light and make it knowledge, I take movement and make it wisdom, I take sparkling colours and make them poetry; I take you stars in my hands and, trembling in the oneness of my being, I raise you above yourselves and offer you in prayer to the Creator, that through me alone you stars can worship" (Le Opere. Inno alla creazione).

St Albert the Great reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith and that through their vocation to the study of nature, scientists can take an authentic and fascinating path of holiness.

His extraordinary openmindedness is also revealed in a cultural feat which he carried out successfully, that is, the acceptance and appreciation of Aristotle's thought. In St Albert's time, in fact, knowledge was spreading of numerous works by this great Greek philosopher, who lived a quarter of a century before Christ, especially in the sphere of ethics and metaphysics. They showed the power of reason, explained lucidly and clearly the meaning and structure of reality, its intelligibility and the value and purpose of human actions. St Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance in medieval philosophy and theology of Aristotle's philosophy, which was subsequently given a definitive form by St Thomas. This reception of a pagan pre-Christian philosophy, let us say, was an authentic cultural revolution in that epoch. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy, a non-Christian philosophy, especially because, presented by his Arab commentators, it had been interpreted in such a way, at least in certain points, as to appear completely irreconcilable with the Christian faith. Hence a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in conflict with each other or not?

This is one of the great merits of St Albert: with scientific rigour he studied Aristotle's works, convinced that all that is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In other words, St Albert the Great thus contributed to the formation of an autonomous philosophy, distinct from theology and united with it only by the unity of the truth. So it was that in the 13th century a clear distinction came into being between these two branches of knowledge, philosophy and theology, which, in conversing with each other, cooperate harmoniously in the discovery of the authentic vocation of man, thirsting for truth and happiness: and it is above all theology, that St Albert defined as "emotional knowledge", which points out to human beings their vocation to eternal joy, a joy that flows from full adherence to the truth.

St Albert the Great was capable of communicating these concepts in a simple and understandable way. An authentic son of St Dominic, he willingly preached to the People of God, who were won over by his words and by the example of his life.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray the Lord that learned theologians will never be lacking in holy Church, wise and devout like St Albert the Great, and that he may help each one of us to make our own the "formula of holiness" that he followed in his life: "to desire all that I desire for the glory of God, as God desires for his glory all that he desires", in other words always to be conformed to God's will, in order to desire and to do everything only and always for his glory.

To Special Groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I welcome all the English-speaking visitors, especially a group of priests, Religious and seminarians visiting from the Philippines. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and your families, I invoke God's abundant Blessings. Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick, and the newlyweds. May the Solemnity of the Annunciation, which we shall be celebrating tomorrow be an invitation to all to follow the example of Mary Most Holy: for you, dear young people, may it be expressed in prompt availability to the Father's call, so that you may be Gospel leaven in society; for you, dear sick people, may it be an incentive to renew the serene and confident acceptance of the divine will and to transform your suffering into a means of redemption for the whole of humanity. May Mary's "yes" awaken in you, dear newlyweds, an ever more generous commitment to building a family based on reciprocal love and on the perennial Christian values.

* * *

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to Saint Albert, better known as Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great. A universal genius whose interests ranged from the natural sciences to philosophy and theology, Albert entered the Dominicans and, after studies in Paris, taught in Cologne. Elected provincial of the Teutonic province, he served as bishop of Regensburg for four years and then returned to teaching and writing. He played an important part in the Council of Lyons, and he worked to clarify and defend the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, his most brilliant student. Albert was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI, and Pope Pius XII named him the patron of the natural sciences. Saint Albert shows us that faith is not opposed to reason, and that the created world can be seen as a “book” written by God and capable of being “read” in its own way by the various sciences. His study of Aristotle also brought out the difference between the sciences of philosophy and theology, while insisting that both cooperate in enabling us to discover our vocation to truth and happiness, a vocation which finds its fulfilment in eternal life.

* * *

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors, especially a group of priests, Religious and seminarians visiting from the Philippines. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and your families, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

SOURCE : https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100324.html


St. Albert the Great

St. Albert (or St. Albertus Magnus) is the patron saint of scientists and was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. He was the first among medieval scholars to apply Aristotle’s philosophy to Christian thought. The Roman Catholic Church honors him as a Doctor of the Church. He is uniquely called  “The Universal Doctor”.

He was eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, and born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined.

In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert’s studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard’s “Book of the Sentences”, when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris.

There he received the Doctor’s degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students).

In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, “De novissimis temporum periculis”, was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256.

During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order.

In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne.

In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title “De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem”. He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part.

The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that “The Light of the Church” had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned.

Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple.

Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-albert-the-great/

Albertitafel, Öl auf Leinwand, Tirol um 1750 (Albertus Magnus offenbaren sich die neun Punkte zur Führung eines gottgefälligen Lebens). Wien, Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde, ÖMV-Inv. Nr. 26.465
Albertitafel, huile sur toile, Tyrol vers 1750 (Albertus Magnus révèle les neuf points pour mener une vie pieuse). Vienne, Musée autrichien du folklore, ÖMV-Inv. N° 26.465


St. Albertus Magnus

Known as Albert the Great; scientist, philosopher, and theologian, born c. 1206; died at Cologne, 15 November 1280. He is called "the Great", and "Doctor Universalis" (Universal Doctor), in recognition of his extraordinary genius and extensive knowledge, for he was proficient in every branch of learning cultivated in his day, and surpassed all his contemporaries, except perhaps Roger Bacon (1214-94), in the knowledge of nature. Ulrich Engelbert, a contemporary, calls him the wonder and the miracle of his age: "Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit" (De summo bono, tr. III, iv).

Life

Albert, eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, was born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined. In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert's studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), RatisbonStrasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard's "Book of the Sentences", when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris. There he received the Doctor's degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students). In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, "De novissimis temporum periculis", was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256. During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order. In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne. In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title "De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem". He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part. The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that "The Light of the Church" had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned. Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple. Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.

Works

Two editions of Albert's complete works (Opera Omnia) have been published; one at Lyons in 1651, in twenty-one folio volumes, edited by Father Peter Jammy, O.P., the other at Paris (Louis Vivès), 1890-99, in thirty-eight quarto volumes, published under the direction of the Abbé Auguste Borgnet, of the diocese of Reims. Paul von Loë gives the chronology of Albert's writings the "Analecta Bollandiada" (De Vita et scriptis B. Alb. Mag., XIX, XX, and XXI). The logical order is given by P. Mandonnet, O.P., in Vacant's "Dictionnaire de théologie catholique". The following list indicates the subjects of the various treatises, the numbers referring to the volumes of Borgnet's edition. Logic: seven treatises (I. 2). Physical Sciences: "Physicorum" (3); "De Coelo et Mundo", "De Generatione et Corruptione". "Meteororum" (4); "Mineralium" (5); "De Natura locorum", " De passionibus aeris" (9). Biological: "De vegetabilibus et plantis" (10) " De animalibus" (11-12); "De motibus animalium", "De nutrimento et nutribili", "De aetate", "De morte et vita", "De spiritu et respiratione" (9). Psychological: "De Anima" (5); "De sensu et sensato", "De Memoria, et reminiscentia", "De somno et vigilia", "De natura et origine animae", "De intellectu et intelligibili", "De unitate intellectus" (9). The foregoing subjects, with the exception of Logic, are treated compendiously in the "Philosophia pauperum" (5). Moral and Political: "Ethicorum" (7); "Politocorum (8). Metaphysical: "Metaphysicorum" (6); "De causis et processu universitatis" (10). Theological: "Commentary on the works of Denis the Aereopagite" (14); "Commentary on the Sentences of the Lombard" (25-30); "Summa Theologiae" (31-33); "Summa de creaturis" (34-35); "De sacramento Eucharistiae" (38); "Super evangelium missus est" (37). Exegetical: "Commentaries on the Psalms and Prophets" (15-19); "Commentaries on the Gospels" (20-24); "On the Apocalypse" (38). Sermons (13). The "Quindecim problemata contra Averroistas" was edited by Mandonnet in his "Siger de Brabant" (Freiburg, 1899). The authenticity of the following works is not established: "De apprehensione" (5); "Speculum astronomicum" (5); "De alchimia" (38); Scriptum super arborem Aristotelis" (38); "Paradisus animae" (37); "Liber de Adhaerendo Deo" (37); "De Laudibus B. Virginis" (36); "Biblia Mariana" (37).

Influence

The influence exerted by Albert on the scholars of his own day and on those of subsequent ages was naturally great. His fame is due in part to the fact that he was the forerunner, the guide and master of St. Thomas Aquinas, but he was great in his own name, his claim to distinction being recognized by his contemporaries and by posterity. It is remarkable that this friar of the Middle Ages, in the midst of his many duties as a religious, as provincial of his order, as bishop and papal legate, as preacher of a crusade, and while making many laborious journeys from Cologne to Paris and Rome, and frequent excursions into different parts of Germany, should have been able to compose a veritable encyclopedia, containing scientific treatises on almost every subject, and displaying an insight into nature and a knowledge of theology which surprised his contemporaries and still excites the admiration of learned men in our own times. He was, in truth, a Doctor Universalis. Of him it in justly be said: Nil tetigit quod non ornavit; and there is no exaggeration in the praises of the modern critic who wrote: "Whether we consider him as a theologian or as a philosopher, Albert was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary men of his age; I might say, one of the most wonderful men of genius who appeared in past times" (Jourdain, Recherches Critiques). Philosophy, in the days of Albert, was a general science embracing everything that could be known by the natural powers of the mind; physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. In his writings we do not, it is true, find the distinction between the sciences and philosophy which recent usage makes. It will, however, be convenient to consider his skill in the experimental sciences, his influence on scholastic philosophy, his theology.

Albert and the experimental sciences

It is not surprising that Albert should have drawn upon the sources of information which his time afforded, and especially upon the scientific writings of Aristotle. Yet he says: "The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements [narrata] of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature" (De Miner., lib. II, tr. ii, i). In his treatise on plants he lays down the principle: Experimentum solum certificat in talibus (Experiment is the only safe guide in such investigations). (De Veg., VI, tr. ii, i). Deeply versed as he was in theology, he declares: "In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power: we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass" (De Coelo et Mundo, I, tr. iv, x). And though, in questions of natural science, he would prefer Aristotle to St. Augustine (In 2, Sent. dist. 13, C art. 2), he does not hesitate to criticize the Greek philosopher. "Whoever believes that Aristotle was a god, must also believe that he never erred. But if one believe that Aristotle was a man, then doubtless he was liable to error just as we are." (Physic. lib. VIII, tr. 1, xiv). In fact Albert devotes a lengthy chapter to what he calls "the errors of Aristotle" (Sum. Theol. P. II, tr. i, quaest. iv). In a word, his appreciation of Aristotle is critical. He deserves credit not only for bringing the scientific teaching of the Stagirite to the attention of medieval scholars, but also for indicating the method and the spirit in which that teaching was to be received. Like his contemporary, Roger Bacon (1214-94), Albert was an indefatigable student of nature, and applied himself energetically to the experimental sciences with such remarkable success that he has been accused of neglecting the sacred sciences (Henry of Ghent, De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, II, x). Indeed, many legends have been circulated which attribute to him the power of a magician or sorcerer. Dr. Sighart (Albertus Magnus) examined these legends, and endeavoured to sift the truth from false or exaggerated stories. Other biographers content themselves with noting the fact that Albert's proficiency in the physical sciences was the foundation on which the fables were constructed. The truth lies between the two extremes. Albert was assiduous in cultivating the natural sciences; he was an authority on physics, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry (alchimia), zoölogy, physiology, and even phrenology. On all these subjects his erudition was vast, and many of his observations are of permanent value. Humboldt pays a high tribute to his knowledge of physical geography (Cosmos, II, vi). Meyer* writes (Gesch. der Botanik): "No botanist who lived before Albert can be compared with him, unless it be Theophrastus, with whom he was not acquainted; and after him none has painted nature in such living colours, or studied it so profoundly, until the time of Conrad, Gesner, and Cesalpini. All honour, then, to the man who made such astonishing progress in the science of nature as to find no one, I will not say to surpass, but even to equal him for the space of three centuries." The list of his published works is sufficient vindication from the charge of neglecting theology and the Sacred Scriptures. On the other hand, he expressed contempt for everything that savoured of enchantment or the art of magic: "Non approbo dictum Avicennae et Algazel de fascinatione, quia credo quod non nocet fascinatio, nec nocere potest ars magica, nec facit aliquid ex his quae timentur de talibus" (See Quétif, I, 167). That he did not admit the possibility of making gold by alchemy or the use of the philosopher's stone, is evident from his own words: "Art alone cannot produce a substantial form". (Non est probatum hoc quod educitur de plumbo esse aurum, eo quod sola ars non potest dare formam substantialem — De Mineral., lib. II, dist. 3).

Roger Bacon and Albert proved to the world that the Church is not opposed to the study of nature, that faith and science may go hand in hand; their lives and their writings emphasize the importance of experiment and investigation. Bacon was indefatigable and bold in investigating; at times, too, his criticism was sharp. But of Albert he said: "Studiosissimus erat, et vidit infinita, et habuit expensum, et ideo multa potuit colligere in pelago auctorum infinito" (Opera, ed. Brewer, 327). Albert respected authority and traditions, was prudent in proposing the results of his investigations, and hence "contributed far more than Bacon did to the advancement of science in the thirteenth century" (Turner, Hist. of Phil.). His method of treating the sciences was historical and critical. He gathered into one vast encyclopedia all that was known in his day, and then expressed his own opinions, principally in the form of commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Sometimes, however, he hesitates, and does not express his own opinion, probably because he feared that his theories, which were "advanced" for those times, would excite surprise and occasion unfavourable comment. "Dicta peripateticorum, prout melius potui exposui: nec aliquis in eo potest deprehendere quid ego ipse sentiam in philosophia naturali" (De Animalibus, circa finem). In Augusta Theodosia Drane's excellent work on "Christian Schools and Scholars" (419 sqq.) there are some interesting remarks on "a few scientific views of Albert, which show how much he owed to his own sagacious observation of natural phenomena, and how far he was in advance of his age. . . ." In speaking of the British Isles, he alluded to the commonly received idea that another Island — Tile, or Thule — existed in the Western Ocean, uninhabitable by reason of its frightful clime, "but which", he says, has perhaps not yet been visited by man". Albert gives an elaborate demonstration of the sphericity of the earth; and it has been pointed out that his views on this subject led eventually to the discovery of America (cf. Mandonnet, in "Revue Thomiste", I, 1893; 46-64, 200-221).

Albert and Scholastic philosophy

More important than Albert's development of the physical sciences was his influence on the study of philosophy and theology. He, more than any one of the great scholastics preceding St. Thomas, gave to Christian philosophy and theology the form and method which, substantially, they retain to this day. In this respect he was the forerunner and master of St. Thomas, who excelled him, however, in many qualities required in a perfect Christian Doctor. In marking out the course which other followed, Albert shared the glory of being a pioneer with Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), whose "Summa Theologiae" was the first written after all the works of Aristotle had become generally known at Paris. Their application of Aristotelean methods and principles to the study of revealed doctrine gave to the world the scholastic system which embodies the reconciliation of reason and Orthodox faith. After the unorthodox Averroes, Albert was the chief commentator on the works of, Aristotle, whose writings he studied most assiduously, and whose principles he adopted, in order to systematize theology, by which was meant a scientific exposition and defence of Christian doctrine. The choice of Aristotle as a master excited strong opposition. Jewish and Arabic commentaries on the works of the Stagirite had given rise to so many errors in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries that for several years (1210-25) the study of Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics was forbidden at Paris. Albert, however, knew that AverroesAbelardAmalric, and others had drawn false doctrines from the writings of the Philosopher; he knew, moreover, that it would have been impossible to stem the tide of enthusiasm in favour of philosophical studies; and so he resolved to purify the works of Aristotle from RationalismAverroismPantheism, and other errors, and thus compel pagan philosophy to do service in the cause of revealed truth. In this he followed the canon laid down by St. Augustine (II De Doct. Christ., xl), who declared that truths found in the writings of pagan philosophers were to be adopted by the defenders of the true faith, while their erroneous opinions were to be abandoned, or explained in a Christian sense. (See St. ThomasSumma Theol., I.84.5.) All inferior (natural) sciences should be the servants (ancillae) of Theology, which is the superior and the mistress (ibid., 1 P., tr. 1, quaest. 6). Against the rationalism of Abelard and his followers Albert pointed out the distinction between truths naturally knowable and mysteries (e.g. the Trinity and the Incarnation) which cannot known without revelation (ibid., 1 P., tr. III, quaest. 13). We have seen that he wrote two treatises against Averroism, which destroyed individual immortality and individual responsibility, by teaching that there is but one rational soul for all men. Pantheism was refuted along with Averroism when the true doctrine on Universals, the system known as moderate Realism, was accepted by the scholastic philosophers. This doctrine Albert based upon the Distinction of the universal ante rem (an idea or archetype in the mind of God), in re (existing or capable of existing in many individuals), and post rem (as a concept abstracted by the mind, and compared with the individuals of which it can be predicated). "Universale duobus constituitur, natura, scilicet cui accidit universalitas, et respectu ad multa. qui complet illam in natura universalis" (Met., lib. V, tr. vi, cc. v, vi). A.T. Drane (Mother Raphael, O.S.D.) gives a remarkable explanation of these doctrines (op. cit. 344-429). Though follower of Aristotle, Albert did not neglect Plato. "Scias quod non perficitur homo in philosophia, nisi scientia duarum philosophiarum, Aristotelis et Platonis (Met., lib. I, tr. v, c. xv). It is erroneous to say that he was merely the "Ape" (simius) of Aristotle. In the knowledge of Divine things faith precedes the understanding of Divine truth, authority precedes reason (I Sent., dist. II, a. 10); but in matters that can be naturally known a philosopher should not hold an opinion which he is not prepared to defend by reason ibid., XII; Periherm., 1, I, tr. l, c. i). Logic, according to Albert, was a preparation for philosophy teaching how we should use reason in order to pass from the known to the unknown: "Docens qualiter et per quae devenitur per notum ad ignoti notitiam" (De praedicabilibus, tr. I, c. iv). Philosophy is either contemplative or practical. Contemplative philosophy embraces physics, mathematics, and metaphysics; practical (moral) philosophy is monastic (for the individual), domestic (for the family), or political (for the state, or society). Excluding physics, now a special study, authors in our times still retain the old scholastic division of philosophy into logicmetaphysics (general and special), and ethics.

Albert's theology

In theology Albert occupies a place between Peter Lombard, the Master of the Sentences, and St. Thomas Aquinas. In systematic order, in accuracy and clearness he surpasses the former, but is inferior to his own illustrious disciple. His "Summa Theologiae" marks an advance beyond the custom of his time in the scientific order observed, in the elimination of useless questions, in the limitation of arguments and objections; there still remain, however, many of the impedimenta, hindrances, or stumbling blocks, which St. Thomas considered serious enough to call for a new manual of theology for the use of beginners — ad eruditionem incipientium, as the Angelic Doctor modestly remarks in the prologue of his immortal "Summa". The mind of the Doctor Universalis was so filled with the knowledge of many things that he could not always adapt his expositions of the truth to the capacity of novices in the science of theology. He trained and directed a pupil who gave the world a concise, clear, and perfect scientific exposition and defence of Christian Doctrine; under God, therefore, we owe to Albertus Magnus the "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas.

Kennedy, Daniel. "St. Albertus Magnus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 14 Nov. 2021 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01264a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Kevin Cawley.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01264a.htm

Bild des Hl. Albertus Magnus von Egino Weinert


Albert the Great, OP B Dr. (RM)

(also known as Albertus Magnus)

Born in Lauingen, Swabia, Germany, c. 1207; died in Cologne, 1280; beatified in 1622; canonized and named a doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI.

Among Christians there often arises a dispute regarding the relative merits of science and theology, of intellectual versus spiritual understanding. Some say that the two are irreconcilable, forgetting that, according to the technical definition, myths (such as the Creation Story) offer more than simply a surface explanation of the mechanics of science. Studying the life of Saint Albert the Great should put aside these disputes. Today in Cologne, the spires of a building began seven centuries earlier still point to heaven. It is only a legend that credits the design of the cathedral to Saint Albert the Great. But it is so typical of his own life, pointing all beauty to heaven, that it is a legend that is very easy to believe. Albert, who even secular history calls "the Great," spent his life in teaching that science and faith have no quarrel, and that all earthly loveliness and order can be traced directly to God.

Early Life

Albert was born in a castle in the diocese of Bavaria, the eldest son of the count of Bollstaedt. Albert was of small stature, but strongly built, having gigantic shoulders and a mole on one eyelid. Albert's keen observation, which was later to show itself in his scientific works, had its initial training in the woods near his father's castle, where he and his brother Henry--who also became a Dominican--hunted with hawks and hounds, and became experts in falconry. Their first education was at home under private tutors.

That both his brother Henry and his sister also became Dominicans attests to the piety of his family.

In 1222, at the age of 16, he was sent to study law at the famous university of Padua (some say Bologna) under the supervision of his uncle who was a canon there. He proved to be an outstanding student, and a brilliant future lay before him in a well-paid career. But God had other plans for Saint Albert.

The Call

Here in Italy Albert met Jordan of Saxony, a fellow-countryman and the second master-general of the Dominican Order following the death of Saint Dominic on August 4, 1221. Jordan's enormous charisma earned him the nickname 'Siren of the Schools' as he travelled from place to place seeking recruits for the young order. Albert was greatly affected by what he heard, and vowed to become a Dominican.

He wavered, though, both because he doubted whether he could persevere and because his uncle opposed him. On the false pretext that travel helps form the character of a youth, his uncle took him on a trip to Venice, and at the same time obtained from the pope an annulment of the vow that he thought so rash. But what can a man, even a priest, do against the will of God?

On their return Albert went to the University of Padua, where he encountered the crisis of his life when he heard another sermon by Blessed Jordan. The preacher spoke of those young men who wavered between certainty and doubt, who hesitated because they feared they might not persevere, when in reality they ought to offer themselves entirely to God and trust in him.

Albert was astonished at what he heard. Going after Blessed Jordan he said, "Master, who has laid bear my heart to you?" Blessed Jordan comforted him, explaining that he had not been addressing any particular individual, but all alike who might be so affected, yet no doubt this was a message of God to him personally; transfixed by these words, he immediately offered himself. He was received into the Order, probably in 1223, and completed his theological studies.

A legend is told of this period which serves to bring out both the greatness of Albert's science and his love for Our Lady. Albert, it is related, had not worn the white habit for long when it became plain to him that he was no match for the mental wizards with whom he was studying. Anything concrete, which he could take apart and study, he could understand, but the abstract sciences were too much for him.

He decided to run away from it all; planning a quiet departure, he carefully laid a ladder against the wall and waited for his opportunity. As he was kneeling for one last Hail Mary before he should go over the wall, Our Lady appeared to him. She reproached him gently for his forgetfulness of her--why had he not remembered to ask her for what he wanted? Then she gave him the gift of science he so much desired, and disappeared. Whatever the truth behind the legend--and it has survived, almost unchanged, through the many years--it is equally certain that Albert was a devout client of Our Lady and a master scientist.

Teaching

Albert was ordained a priest in 1228. He was then sent to teach in Cologne, where his critical lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard made his name; he afterward came to be known as the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages. Later he taught in Hildesheim, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Regensburg (Ratisbon) for two years, Strasbourg and again in Cologne. He traveled from one place to another on foot, preaching, praying, and observing. His mind was receptive, daring, modern, and picked up an extraordinary amount of information. From the first his great erudition had been recognized, to say nothing of his deep piety and humility.

Albert rejected nothing of value that his age could offer him, doing so not out of a superficial syncretism, which would try to please everybody, but out of his concern not to lose anything that might be an element of the truth.

From 1240 to 1248 Albert was at the monastery of Saint-Jacques in Paris; Place Maubert and Rue Maitre-Albert in the Latin Quarter evoke his memory, while the Rue du Fouarre recalls the crowd of students who gathered round his pulpit, seated on their small bundles of straw.

It was in Paris that he had the happiness of seeing a quiet student from the Kingdom of Sicily rise like a brilliant star that would outshine all the others. What must it have been like to watch the mind of Saint Thonas Aquinas develop and unfold to the wisdom of time and eternity, and to help him open the doors to profound truth?

Albert was one of the first to recognize, cultivate, and proclaim the brilliance of his good friend and student Saint Thomas Aquinas. It takes a man of great humility and great sanctity to see and cultivate the potential for it in others, and these Albert had.

Albert took Thomas under his wing, assigned him a room adjoining his own, and for nearly five years was his inseparable companion. They studied together in both Paris, where Albert taught and earned his doctorate in theology in 1244-45, and in Cologne. He helped adapt the Scholastic method, which applied Aristotelian methods to revealed doctrine, an approach that was further developed by Saint Thomas.

In 1248 Albert again moved to University of Cologne, where he served as regent of the new studia generalia until 1254, when he was elected provincial of the Teutonia, a vast Dominican province including Alsace, Belgium, and Germany as far as the frontiers of Poland and Hungary. He personally visited all the monasteries in his province, convened chapters, imposed penances, ensured that observances were respected, and, above all, preached by his own example.

In 1256 Albert went to Rome, where he defended the mendicant orders against William of Saint Armour (who was condemned later in the year by Pope Alexander IV). Then he served for a time as the personal theologian to the pope and professor of Holy Scripture. By 1257, when a general chapter was held in Florence, Albert had completed his mandate and gladly resigned his provincialatae to return to his studies and his pulpit in Cologne. But, unfortunately for him and for his pupils, not for very long.

During his short return to study, together with Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentais, Albert drew up a new curriculum of study for the Dominicans (1259).

As Bishop

The time for study was interrupted too soon, when on January 5, 1260, Pope Alexander IV appointed Albert bishop of Regensburg (Ratisbon) against his wishes and, though the master general tried the stop the appointment, very reluctantly Albert was obliged to accept. Vigorous reforms were needed in Regensburg and Albert was the man for the job.

The new bishop used his authority with severity against those who were injuring the Church in her temporal possessions. He cleaned up the administration, ordered economies, put the debts in order, solicited generous gifts, and restored deteriorating buildings. By his own example he showed his priests a life of purity, strict poverty, harsh penance, and piety; he helped greatly to restore to fervor a diocese in disorder. He dealt severely with his clergy, condemning their concubinage, idleness and simony.

As for his episcopal robes, he just settled for a pair of stout shoes, which he needed for his long journeys on foot. The people were astonished and called him "the bishop in clogs," or simply, "Clodhopper." Saint Clodhopper for God, forever in the march along the paths of the Gospel!

The clergy resented his simplicity and rejected his reforms, and the avaricious nobles refused to return the Church's property. Once the worst problems were corrected, Albert clearly recognized that he could serve God better from a pulpit. Albert felt called back to his life's work of teaching and the restoration of theology.

After two years as bishop, he journeyed to Rome and asked to be relieved of the office. The petition was granted, but he was appointed to preach the crusade in the German-speaking countries, a work he continued for several years with a companion preacher, the Franciscan Berthold of Ratisbon, going as far as Lithuania. These labors ended with the death of Pope Urban IV. And Albert returned to Wurzburg (where he lived for three years), Strasbourg, and once more to Cologne in 1270 to teach again under the obedience of the Dominican Order.

Old Age

For the last dozen years of his life he taught theology in Cologne, with a break in 1274 to take an active part in the general council of Lyons, working for the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches. Albert's sadness at the failure of the council was surpassed by the death of Thomas Aquinas, age 49, on the road from Rome to the council in the little monastery of Hautecombe. He died calmly while making a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas's last wish, as he told the monks attending him, was to eat a good French herring. Such is the simplicity of saints.

Albert wept bitterly that the 'glory and ornament of the world' had gone. He outlived his beloved pupil by several years, and, in extreme old age, he walked halfway across Europe to defend a thesis of Thomas's that was challenged. He fiercely and brilliantly defended Saint Thomas and his position against Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris and a group of theologians at the university there in 1277.

On his return to the monastery at Cologne, Albert ceased teaching forever and retired permanently to his cell. He had kept the innocence and freshness of his faith, and prayed like a child. He love the Virgin Mary with tenderly, and wrote one of his most beautiful theological treatises in her praise. For the last two years of his life, Albert suffered from increasing memory loss and ill health, which led to his death in Cologne on November 15, 1280. Saint Albert is enshrined in the church of Saint Andreas in Cologne.

Works

Albert had an enquiring mind, ranking beside Roger Bacon as one of the first and greatest natural scientists. He was an experimenter and a classifier at a time when all experimental knowledge was under suspicion. There was not a field in which he did not at least try his hand, and his keenness of mind and precision of detail make his remarks valuable, even though, because he lacked facts which we now have, his conclusions were incomplete. It is difficult to estimate his vast erudition, the acuteness of mind and keenness of intellect of this learned and saintly man. In philosophy his work exhibited the highest achievement of human reason when thrown on its own resources.

The whole realm of nature and grace are covered by his encyclopedic knowledge; he wrote even more than Saint Thomas Aquinas himself. Some of his works still remain in manuscript unpublished and as many as seventy others have been lost. His printed works fill 38 quarto volumes and deal with all branches of learning. Among his works are Summa theologie, De unitate intellectus contra Averren, De vegetabilibus, and Summa de creaturis.

He stands out in particular for his recognition of the autonomy of human reason in its own sphere, of the validity of knowledge gained from sensory experience, and of the value of Aristotle's philosophy in systematizing theology. Aquinas perfected the synthesis now known as the Scholastic method.

At the time of his scientific investigations, the field was almost exclusively in the hands of the Arabian philosophers--inheritors of the work of Avicenna and Averroes--who had drawn a great part of their errors from faulty interpretation of Aristotle. Since Aristotle, who must be regarded as the greatest comprehensive genius of any age, no other had written on the subject (as far as known), until Albert the Great.

During the intervening millennia between Aristotle and Albert, there had been a void; after his time three hundred years passed before botany was taken seriously. Albert commenced by making a catalogue of all the trees, plants, and herbs known in his own time. His minute observations on their forms and variations show an exquisite sense of their floral beauty, which he attributed to God. He was acquainted with the sleep of plants, with the periodic opening and closing of flowers, with the diminution of sap during evaporation from the cuticle of the leaf, and with the influence of the distribution of bundles of vessels on the foliar indentations. And this is only the beginning of his observations.

In addition to botany, he wrote in similar detail on astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, metaphysics, ethics, scripture, geography, geology (one of his treatises proved the earth to be spherical), logic, mathematics, theology, and meteorology; he made maps and charts and experimented with plants; he studied chemical reactions; designed instruments to help with navigation; and he made detailed studies of birds and animals. His brilliance and erudition caused him to be called the "Universal Doctor" by his contemporaries.

Albert's admiration for Arabic learning and culture caused suspicion in some quarters. His and Thomas Aquinas's adaptation of Aristotelian principles to systematic theology and their attempts to reconcile Aristotelianism to Christianity caused bitter opposition among many of their fellow theologians. Conservatives condemned these dangerous innovations as being tainted with heresy since they came from pagan Greek, Islamic, and Jewish thinkers.

Saint Albert knew that studying the minute beauty and perfection of creation gives us reason to glorify God. The universe is full of mystery; the intellect of man has only touched its outer fringe. Had the students of natural science proceeded along the lines Albert had laid down, the wrong road taken for three centuries might have been avoided.

In the modern mechanistic view, God is excluded, but Albert saw the whole universe as the work of God's hand. I've stressed Albert's erudition, but his whole life was absorbed in God; the Master of the Universe developed in him a greatest also of soul. He found God everywhere and in all things and always saw some good in others and in their books. His work was to sift out the good and to reserve it for Christ.

True greatness of soul is not content with merely observing the good, but passes on its revelation to others, thus revealing the noble disposition towards magnanimity. His task was to demonstrate the harmony between natural truth and divine revelation and to give this abundantly to others.

Saint Albert was canonized by being enrolled among the doctors of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931. He was also named patron saint of students of the natural sciences, for he had, said the pope, 'that rare and divine gift, scientific instinct, in the highest degree . . .; he is exactly the saint whose example ought to inspire the present age' (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Murray, White, Wilms).

Faith and Science

The opposition between science and faith is only apparent. It originates either in the error of scientists who forward unprovable hypotheses as undoubted facts--the theory of evolution, for instance--or in the mistakes of theologians who would give their private, false opinions as gospel truths. If both would remain within the confines of their own science, no opposition would be possible.

Saint Albert insisted that 'purely from reason no one can attain to knowledge of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Jesus and the Resurrection.'

But, in fact reason and faith are helpful to each other. Reason gives faith a solid foundation, so that we are not asked to give blind assent to truths we cannot know. It also furnishes us with strong extrinsic proof of the contents of divine revelation. Faith, on the other hand, "furnishes facts to the other sciences," Cardinal Newman says, "which these sciences, left to themselves, would never reach, and it invalidates apparent facts, which left to themselves, they would imagine."

Science deals only with secondary causes; when it questions why things happen it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy, but religion interests itself with the Primary Cause of all things.

We are surrounded by the mystery of the universe; it is in no way peculiar to religion. Science may make continual progress and tell us of countless new and marvelous things, but the why and the wherefore of them are altogether beyond its scope. There are mysteries in God's world, both of nature and of grace.

The First Vatican Council teaches us, "The Church therefore, far from hindering the pursuit of the arts and sciences, fosters and promotes them in many ways. Nor does she prevent sciences, each in its own sphere, from making use of their own principles and methods. Yet, while acknowledging the freedom due to them, she tries to preserve them from falling into error contrary to divine doctrine, and from overstepping their own boundaries and throwing into confusion matters that belong to the domain of faith" (Decree 16.12.41).

Saint Albert is represented in art as a Dominican with a doctor's cap and a book. Sometimes he is shown (1) lecturing from a pulpit; (2) with Saint Thomas Aquinas; or (3) as a Dominican bishop with pen and book (Roeder).

Patron of all natural sciences, scientists, and students of science (Roeder). 

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/1115.shtml


St. Albertus Magnus

Known as Albert the Great; scientist, philosopher, and theologian, born c. 1206; died at Cologne, 15 November 1280. He is called "the Great", and "Doctor Universalis" (Universal Doctor), in recognition of his extraordinary genius and extensive knowledge, for he was proficient in every branch of learning cultivated in his day, and surpassed all his contemporaries, except perhaps Roger Bacon (1214-94), in the knowledge of nature. Ulrich Engelbert, a contemporary, calls him the wonder and the miracle of his age: "Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit" (De summo bono, tr. III, iv).

Life

Albert, eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, was born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined. In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert's studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard's "Book of the Sentences", when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris. There he received the Doctor's degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students). In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, "De novissimis temporum periculis", was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256. During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order. In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne. In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title "De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem". He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part. The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that "The Light of the Church" had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned. Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple. Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.

Albert the Great

Albertus Magnus, also known as Albert the Great, was one of the most universal thinkers to appear during the Middle Ages. Even more so than his most famous student, St. Thomas of Aquinas, Albert's interests ranged from natural science all the way to theology. He made contributions to logic, psychology, metaphysics, meteorology, mineralogy, and zoology. He was an avid commentator on nearly all the great authorities read during the 13th Century. He was deeply involved in an attempt to understand the import of the thought of Aristotle in some orderly fashion that was distinct from the Arab commentators who had incorporated their own ideas into the study of Aristotle. Yet he was not averse to using some of the outstanding Arab philosophers in developing his own ideas in philosophy. His superior understanding of a diversity of philosophical texts allowed him to construct one of the most remarkable syntheses in medieval culture.

• 1. Life of Albert the Great

• 2. Philosophical Enterprise

• 3. Logic

• 4. Metaphysics

• 5. Psychology and Anthropology

• 6. Ethics

• 7. The Influence of Albert the Great

• Bibliography

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o Secondary Literature

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1. Life of Albert the Great

The precise date of Albert's birth is not known. It is generally conceded that he was born into a knightly family sometime around the year 1200 in Lauingen an der Donau in Germany. He was apparently in Italy in the year 1222 where he was present when a rather terrible earthquake struck in Lombardy. A year later he was still in Italy and studying at the University of Padua. The same year Jordan of Saxony received him into the Dominican order. He was sent to Cologne in order to complete his training for the order. He finished this training as well as a course of studies in theology by 1228. He then began teaching as a lector at Cologne, Hildesheim, Freiburg im Breisgau, Regensburg, and Strassburg. During this period he published his first major work, De natura boni.

Ten years later he is recorded as having been present at the general chapter of the Dominican Order held in Bologna. Two years later he visited Saxony where is observed the appearance of a comet. Some time between 1241 and 1242 he was sent to the University of Paris to complete his theological education. He followed the usual prescription of lecturing on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. In addition he began writing his six part Summa parisiensis dealing with the sacraments of the Church, the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, the four coevals, human nature, and the nature of the good. He took his degree as master of theology in 1245 and began to teach theology at the university under Gueric de Saint-Quentin. St. Thomas Aquinas became his student at this time and remained under Albert's direction for the next three years. In 1248 Albert was appointed regent of studies at the studium generale that was newly created by the Dominican order in Cologne. So Albert, along with Thomas Aquinas, left Paris and went to Cologne. Thomas continued his studies under Albert in Cologne and served as magister studium in the school as well until 1252. Then Thomas returned to Paris to take up his teaching duties while Albert remained in Cologne, where he began to work on the vast project he set himself of preparing a paraphrase of each of the known works of Aristotle.

In 1254 the Dominican order again assigned Albert a difficult task. He was elected the prior provincial for the German-speaking province of the order. This position mandated that Albert spend a great deal of his time traveling throughout the province visiting Dominican convents, priories, and even a Dominican mission in Riga. This task occupied Albert until 1256. That year he returned to Cologne, but left the same year for Paris in order to attend a General Chapter of his order in which the allegations of William of St. Amour's De periculis novissimorum temporum against mendicant orders were considered. A little later Pope Alexander IV asked Albert to go to Anagni in order to speak to a commission of Cardinals who were looking into the claims of William. While engaged in this charge Albert completed his refutation of Averroistic psychology with his De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas. Afterwards Albert departed for another tour of the province of Germany. In 1257 he returned to the papal court, which was now located in Viterbo. He was relieved of his duties as prior provincial and returned again to Cologne as regent of studies. He continued to teach until 1259 when he traveled to Valenciennes in order to attend a General Chapter of his order. At that time, along with Thomas Aquinas, Peter of Tarentasia, Bonhomme Brito, and Florent de Hesdin, he undertook on behalf of his order an extensive discussion of the curriculum of the scholastic program used by the order.

The next year of his life found Albert once again appointed to an onerous duty. In obedience to the wishes of the pope Albert was consecrated a bishop of the Church and sent to Ratisbon (modern Regensburg) in order to undertake a reform of abuses in that diocese. Albert worked at this task until 1263 when Pope Urban IV relieved him of his duties and asked Albert to preach the Crusade in the German speaking countries. This duty occupied Albert until the year 1264. He then went to the city of Würzburg where he stayed until 1267.

Albert spent the next eight years traveling around Germany conducting various ecclesiastical tasks. Then in 1274 while he was traveling to the Council of Lyons Albert received the sad news of the untimely death of Thomas Aquinas, his friend and former student of many years. After the close of the Council Albert returned to Germany. There is evidence that he traveled to Paris in the year 1277 in order to defend Aquinas' teaching, which was under attack at the university. In 1279, anticipating his death he drew up his own last will and testament. On November 15, 1280 he died and was buried in Cologne. On December 15, 1931 Pope Pius XI declared Albert both a saint and a doctor of the Church. On the 16th of December 1941 Pope Pius XII declared Albert the patron saint of the natural sciences.

2. Philosophical Enterprise

An examination of Albert's published writings reveals something of his understanding of philosophy in human culture. In effect he prepared a kind of philosophical encyclopedia that occupied him up to the last ten years of his life. He produced paraphrases of most of the works of Aristotle available to him. In some cases where he felt that Aristotle should have produced a work, but it was missing, Albert produced the work himself. If he had produced nothing else it would be necessary to say that he adopts the Aristotelian philosophical-scientific program as his own. Albert's intellectual vision, however, was very great. Not only did he paraphrase “The Philosopher” (as the medievals called Aristotle) but Porphyry, Boethius, Peter Lombard, Gilbert de la Porrée, the Liber de causis, and Ps.-Dionysius. He also wrote a number of commentaries on the Bible. In addition to all of this work of paraphrasing and commenting, in which Albert labored to prepare a kind of unified field theory of medieval Christian intellectual culture, he also wrote a number of works in which he developed his own philosophical-scientific-theological vision. Here one finds titles such as De unitate intellectus, Problemata determinate, De fato, De XV problematibus, De natura boni, De sacramentis, De incarnatione, De bono, De quattuor coaequaevis, De homine, and his unfinished Summa theologiae de mirabilis scientia Dei.

Albert's labors resulted in the formation of what might be called a Christian reception of Aristotle in the Western Europe. Although Albert himself had a strong bias in favor of Neo-Platonism, his work on Aristotle shows him to have a deep understanding of the Aristotelian program. Along with his student Thomas Aquinas he was of the opinion that Aristotle and the kind of natural philosophy that he represented was no obstacle to the development of a Christian philosophical vision of the natural order. In order to establish this point Albert carefully dissected the method that Aristotle employed in undertaking the task of expounding natural philosophy. This method, Albert decided, is experientially based and proceeds to draw conclusions by the use of both inductive and deductive logic. Christian theology, as Albert found it taught in Europe rested firmly upon the revelation of Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers. Therefore, he reasoned, the two domains of human culture are distinct in their methodology and pose no threat to each other. Both can be pursued for their own sake. Philosophy was not to be valued only in terms of its ancillary relation to theology.

3. Logic

Albert carefully prepared a paraphrase of Aristotle's Organon (the logical treatises in the Aristotelian corpus). He then used the results of this paraphrase to address the problem of universals as he found it discussed in the philosophical literature and debates of the medieval philosophical culture. He defined the term universal as referring to “ … that which, although it exists in one, is apt by nature to exist in many.”[1] Because it is apt to be in many, it is predicable of them. (De praed., tract II, c. 1) He then distinguished three kinds of universals, those that pre-exist the things that exemplify them (universale ante rem), those that exist in individual things (universale in re), and those that exist in the mind when abstracted from individual things (universale post rem).

Albert attempted to formulate an answer to Porphyry's famous problem of universals — namely, do the species according to which we classify beings exist in themselves or are they merely constructions of the mind? Albert appealed to his three-fold distinction, noting that a universal's mode of being is differentiated according to which function is being considered. It may be considered in itself, or in respect to understanding, or as existing in one particular or another.[2] Both the nominalist and realist solutions to Porphyry's problem are thus too simplistic and lack proper distinction. Albert's distinction thus allowed him to harmonize Plato's realism in which universals existed as separate forms with Aristotle's more nominalistic theory of immanent forms. For universals when considered in themselves (secudum quod in seipso) truly exist and are free from generation, corruption, and change.[3] If, however, they are taken in reference to the mind (refertur ad intelligentiam) they exist in two modes, depending on whether they are considered with respect to the intellect that is their cause or the intellect that knows them by abstraction.[4] But when they are considered in particulars (secundum quod est in isto vel in illo) their existence is exterior to as well as beyond the mind, yet existing in things as individuated.[5]

4. Metaphysics

Albert's metaphysics is an adaptation of Aristotelian metaphysics as conditioned by a form of Neo-Platonism. His reading the Liber de causis as an authentic Aristotelian text influenced his understanding of Aristotle. It seems that Albert never realized the Neo-Platonic origin of the work. As with the other works of Aristotle he prepared a paraphrase of the work entitled De causis et processu universitatis, and used it as a guide to interpreting other works by Aristotle. However, he also used the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius to correct some of the doctrine found in the Liber de causis.

Albert blends these three main sources of his metaphysics into a hierarchical structure of reality in which there is an emanation of forms directed by what Albert calls “a summoning of the good” (advocatio boni). The good operates metaphysically as the final cause of the order of forms in the universe of beings. But it is also the First Cause. And its operation in the created order of being is discovered as an attraction of all being back to itself. “We exist because God is good,” Albert explains, “and we are good insofar as we exist.”[6] Thus the balanced relations of the exit and return of all things according to classical Neo-Platonism is skewed in favor of the relationship of return. This is because Albert, as a Christian philosopher, favors a creationist view of being over the doctrine of pure emanation. Rejecting also the doctrine of universal hylomorphism Albert argues that material beings are always composite in which the forms are inchoate until they are called forth by the ultimate good. Spiritual creatures (excluding man) have no material element. Their being summoned to the good is immediate and final. The summoning of the inchoate forms of material beings, however, is not direct. It depends upon the intervention of the celestial spheres.

The First Cause, which Albert understands as God, is an absolutely transcendent reality. His uncreated light calls forth a hierarchically ordered universe in which each order of being reflects this light. God's giving existence to creatures is understood by Albert as their procession from him as from a first cause.[7] At the top of this hierarchy of light are found the purely spiritual beings, the angelic orders and the intelligences. Albert carefully distinguishes these two kinds of beings. He basically accepts the analysis of the angelic orders as found in Pseudo-Dionysius' treatise of the celestial hierarchy. The intelligences move the cosmic spheres and illuminate the human soul. The intelligences, just as the order of angels, form a special hierarchy. The First Intelligence, as Albert calls it, contemplates the entire universe and uses the human soul, as illuminated by the lower intelligences, to draw all creatures into a unity.

Beneath the angels and intelligences are the souls that possess intellects. They are joined to bodies but do not depend on bodies for their existence. Although they are ordered to the First Intelligence so as to enjoin contemplative unity on the entire cosmos, Albert rejects the Averroistic theory of the unity of the intellect. Each human soul has its own intellect. But because the human soul uniquely stands on the horizon of both material and spiritual being it can operate as a microcosm and thus can serve the purpose of the First Intelligence, which is to bind all creatures into a universe.

Finally there are the immersed forms. Under this heading Albert establishes another hierarchy with the animal kingdom at the top, followed by the plant kingdom, then the world of minerals (in which Albert had a deep interest), and finally the elements of material creation.

5. Psychology and Anthropology

Albert's interest in the human condition is dominated by his concern with the relationship of the soul to the body on the one hand and the important role that the intellect plays in human psychology. According to Albert, the essence of man is not the intellect.[8] With regard to the relationship between the soul and the body Albert appears to be torn between the Platonic theory which sees the soul as a form capable of existing independently of the body and the Aristotelian hylomorphic theory which reduces the soul to a functional relationship of the body. With respect to human knowing, for example, he maintains the position that the human intellect is dependent upon the senses.[9] In order to resolve the conflict between the two views Albert availed himself of Avicenna's position that Aristotle's analysis was focused on the function and not the essence of the soul. Functionally, Albert argues, the soul is the agent cause of the body. “Just as we maintain that the soul is the cause of the animated body and of its motions and passions insofar as it is animated,” he reasons, “likewise we must maintain that the lowest intelligence is the cause of the cognitive soul insofar as it is cognitive because the cognition of the soul is a particular result of the light of the intelligence.”[10] Having been created in the image and likeness of God it not only governs the body, as God governs the universe, but it is responsible for the very existence of the body, as God is the creator of the world. And just as God transcends his creation, so does the human soul transcend the body in its interests. It is capable of operating in complete independence of corporeal functions. This transcendental function of the soul allows Albert to focus on what he believes is the essence of the soul — the human intellect.

Viewed as essentially an intellect, the human soul is an incorporeal substance. Albert divides this spiritual substance into two powers — the agent intellect and the possible intellect.[11] Neither of these powers needs the body in order to function. Under certain conditions concerning its powers the human intellect is capable of transformation. While it is true that under the stimulus or illumination of the agent intellect the possible intellect can consider the intelligible form of the phantasms of the mind which are derived from the senses, it can also operate under the sole influence of the agent intellect. Here, Albert argues, the possible intellect undergoes a complete transformation and becomes totally actualized, as the agent intellect becomes its form. It emerges as what he calls the “adept intellect” (intellectus adeptus).[12] At this stage the human intellect is susceptible to illumination by higher cosmic intellects called the “intelligences”. Such illumination brings the soul of man into complete harmony with the entire order of creation and constitutes man's natural happiness. Since the intellect is now totally assimilated to the order of things Albert calls the intellect in its final stage of development the “assimilated intellect” (intellectus assimilativus). The condition of having attained an assimilated intellect constitutes natural human happiness, realizing all the aspirations of the human condition and human culture. But Albert makes it clear that the human mind cannot attain this state of assimilation on its own. Following the Augustinian tradition as set forth in the De magistro Albert states that “because the divine truth lies beyond our reason we are not able by ourselves to discover it, unless it condescends to infuse itself; for as Augustine says, it is an inner teacher, without whom an external teacher labors aimlessly.”[13] There is thus an infusion involved with divine illumination, but it is not a pouring forth of forms. Rather, it is an infusion of an inner teacher, who is identified with divine truth itself. In his commentary on the Sentences Albert augments this doctrine when he argues that this inner teacher strengthens the weakness of the human intellect, which by itself could not profit by external stimulation. He distinguishes the illumination of this interior teacher from the true and final object of the intellect.[14] Divine light is only a means by which the intellect can attain its object.[15] This is consistent with his emphasis upon the analogy of divine light and physical light, which pervades so much of his thinking. It follows, then, that in the order of human knowing there are first of all the forms that are derived from external things. They cannot teach us anything in any useful way until the light of an inner teacher illuminates them. So light is the medium of this vision. But the inner teacher himself is identified with the divine truth, which is the final object and perfection of the human intellect. In his Summa, however, Albert makes further distinctions concerning the object of human knowing. Natural things, he tells us, are received in a natural light, while the things that the intellect contemplates in the order of belief (ad credenda vero) are received in a light that is gratuitous (gratuitum est), and the beatifying realities are received in the light of glory.[16] It seems that Albert has abandoned the position that even naturalia require divine illumination. Strictly speaking, he has not abnegated his earlier position. Naturalia may very well still require the work of a restorative inner teacher. In the Summa, however, Albert is anxious to stress the radical difference natural knowing has from supernatural knowing. He has already established this difference in his study of the human intellect (De intellectu) where he tells us, “Some [intelligibles] with their light overpower our intellect which is temporal and has continuity. These are like the things that are most manifest in nature which are related to our intellect as the light of the sun or a strong scintillating color is to the eyes of the bat or the owl. Other [intelligibles] are manifest only through the light of another. These would be like the things which are received in faith from what is primary and true.”[17] But in both natural and supernatural knowing Albert is careful to stress the final object and perfection of the human intellect. This leads naturally to a consideration of Albert's understanding of ethics.

6. Ethics

Albert's ethics rests on his understanding of human freedom. This freedom is expressed through the human power to make unrestricted decisions about their own actions. This power, the liberum arbitrium, Albert believes is identified neither with the intellect nor the will. He holds this extraordinary position because of his analysis of the genesis of human action. In his treatise on man (Liber de homine) he accounts for human action as beginning with the intellect considering the various options for action open to a person at a given moment in time. This is coupled by the will desiring the beneficial outcome of the proposed event. Then the liberum arbitrium chooses one of the options proposed by the intellect or the object of the will's desire. The will then moves the person to act on the basis of the choice of the liberum arbitrium. Brutes do not have this ability, he argues, and must act solely on their initial desire. Hence they have no power of free choice. In his later writings, however, Albert eliminates the first act of the will. But even so he distinguishes the liberum arbitrium from both the will and the intellect, presumably so that it can respond to the influences of both these faculties equally. Thus the way to ethics is open.

Albert's concern with ethics as such is found in his two commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The prologues to both these works reveal Albert's original thoughts on some problems about the discipline of ethics. He wonders if ethics can be considered as a theoretical deductive science. He concludes that it can be so considered because the underlying causes of moral action (rationes morum) involve both necessary and universal principles, the conditions needed for a science according to the analysis of Aristotle that Albert accepted.[18] The rationes morum are contrasted by him to the mere appearance of moral behaviour.[19] Thus virtue can be discussed in abstraction from particular actions of individual human agents. The same is true of other ethical principles. However, Albert maintains that it is possible to refer to particular human acts as exemplifying relevant virtues and as such to include them in a scientific discussion of ethics.[20] Therefore, ethics is theoretical, even though the object of its theory is the practical.

Another concern that Albert expresses is how ethics as a theoretical deductive science can be relevant to the practice of the virtuous life. He addresses this problem by distinguishing ethics as a doctrine (ethica docens) from ethics as a practical activity of individual human beings (ethica utens).[21] The outcomes of these two aspects of ethics are different he argues. Ethics as a doctrine is concerned with teaching. It proceeds by logical analysis concentrating on the goals of human action in general. As such its proper end is knowledge. But as a practical and useful art ethics is concerned with action as a means to a desired end.[22] Its mode of discourse is rhetorical — the persuasion of the human being to engage in the right actions that will lead to the desired end.[23] Albert sees these two aspects of ethics as linked together by the virtue of prudence. It is prudence that applies the results of the doctrine of ethics to its practice.[24] Ethics considered as a doctrine operates through prudence as a remote cause of ethical action. Thus the two functions of ethics are related and ethics is considered by Albert as both a theoretical deductive science and a practical applied science.

Albert goes beyond these methodological considerations. He addresses the end of ethics, as he understands it. And here his psychology bears fruit. For he embraces the idea that the highest form of human happiness is the contemplative life. This is the true and proper end of man, he claims. For the adept intellect, as noted above, is the highest achievement to which the human condition can aspire. It represents the conjunction of the apex of the human mind to the separated agent intellect. In this conjunction the separated agent intellect becomes the form of the soul. The soul experiences self-sufficiency and is capable of contemplative wisdom. This is as close to beatitude as man can get in this life. Man is now capable of contemplating separated beings as such and can live his life in almost stoical detachment from the concerns of sublunar existence.

7. The Influence of Albert the Great

Albert's influence on the development of scholastic philosophy in the thirteenth century was enormous. He, along with his most famous student Thomas of Aquinas, succeeded in incorporating the philosophy of Aristotle into the Christian West. Besides Thomas, Albert was also the teacher of Ulrich of Straßburg (1225 – 1277), who carried forward Albert's interest in natural science by writing a commentary on Aristotle's Meteors along with his metaphysical work, the De summo bono; Hugh Ripelin of Straßburg (c.1200 – 1268) who wrote the famous Compendium theologicae veritatis; John of Freiburg (c.1250 – 1314) who wrote the Libellus de quaestionibus casualibus; and Giles of Lessines (c. 1230 – c. 1304) who wrote a treatise on the unity of substantial form, the De unitate formae. The influence of Albert and his students was very pronounced in the generation of German scholars who came after these men. Dietrich of Freiberg, who may have actually met Albert, is probably the best example of the influence of the spirit of Albert the Great. Dietrich (c. 1250 – c. 1310) wrote treatises on natural science, which give evidence of his having carried out actual scientific investigation. His treatise on the rainbow would be a good example. But he also wrote treatises on metaphysical and theological topics in which the echoes of Albert can be distinctly heard. Unlike Albert he did not write commentaries on Aristotle, but preferred to apply Albertist principles to topics according to his own understanding. On the other hand Berthold of Moosburg (+ c. 1361) wrote a very important commentary on Proclus' Elements of Theology, introducing the major work of the great Neo-Platonist into German metaphysics. Berthold's debt to Albert is found throughout his commentary, especially with regard to metaphysical topics. Many of these Albertist ideas and principles passed down to thinkers such as Meister Eckhart, John Tauler, and Heinrich Suso where they took on a unique mystical flavor. The Albertist tradition continued down to Heymeric de Campo (1395 – 1460) who passed it on to Nicholas of Cusa. From Nicholas the ideas pass down to the Renaissance. The philosophers of the Renaissance seem to have been attracted to the Albert's understanding of Neo-Platonism and his interest in natural science.

Albert the Great, Opera Omnia. Ed. P. Jammy, 21 vols (Lyon, 1651).

Albert the Great, Opera Omnia, Ed. E. Borgnet, 38 vols (Paris: Vives, 1890–1899).

Albert the Great, Alberti Magni Opera Omnia edenda curavit Institutum Alberti Magni Coloniense Bernhardo Geyer praeside (Münster: Aschendorff, 1951 – ).

Albert the Great, Book of Minerals. Transl. Dorothy Wyckoff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967).

Albert the Great, Commentary on Dionysius' Mystical Theology. Transl. Simon Tugwell, O.P. in S. Tugwell, Albert and Thomas: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).

Albert the Great, On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements. Transl. Irven M. Resnick (Milwaukee: Marquette U. Press, 2010).

(First published Mon Mar 20, 2006; substantive revision Fri Apr 20, 2012)

SOURCE : Führer, Markus, "Albert the Great", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2012/entries/albert-great/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/albert-great/

Das projectirte Albertus Magnus-Denkmal in Lauingen. Nach einer Photographie

Bild aus Seite 397 in "Die Gartenlaube". Image from page 397 of journal Die Gartenlaube, 1881.


Catholic Churchmen in Science: Albertus Magnus

Philosopher, Theologian, Scientist.

There are very few men, probably not more than can be counted easily on the fingers of the two hands, with whose names in history are associated the epithet “Great.” As a rule, those who have it as even a more or less constant attribute are supposed to have merited it because of prowess in war. It probably will be a surprise to most people to have it called to their attention that there is one scholar in history to whom by universal consent the epithet has been so constantly attributed that most readers when they meet the word do not think of it as an adjective, but consider it to be a portion of his proper name. Albert von Bollstadt has Magnus or Great so intimately associated with his name that, as in the case of Charlemagne, it has become quite identified with him and probably most readers of history never think of either of them except with the epithet in mind. When we find that Albert was born in the heart of the Middle Ages, at the end of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century, the surprise is likely to be emphasized that at this portion of human history should have come the one scholar whose name is forever ” the Great.” Even more interesting than the fact that Albert should have been proclaimed ” the Great” for scholarship in the Middle Ages is the circumstance that, because of the breadth of his genius and interests, he probably deserves the title more than any other scholar who has ever lived. He more nearly reached universality of knowledge in his time than perhaps it has ever been given to any man alive. I say this deliberately, knowing how much Aristotle succeeded in exhausting human knowledge in his time, but appreciating the fact that Albert’s contemporaries who knew their Aristotle very well called him a new Aristotle, appreciating that he had in addition depths of knowledge in many developments of Christian revelation as well as in the evolution of modern scientific ideas, that were far in advance of the old Greek philosopher. Of course it may be thought that at this time, in the thirteenth century, it would not be much for a man to exhaust human knowledge, because men did not know very much. Those who think that, however, know nothing of the curricula of the Universities of the thirteenth century, and especially ignore the fact that men’s minds were just as inquisitive and succeeded in finding quite as satisfactory answers to the more important questions that concern man and his destiny as any that are accepted at the present time.

It is indeed amusing to note how confidently men who know nothing at all about the Middle Ages – and are indeed quite willing to confess that they know nothing – assume that there cannot have been any education or any interest in science in those times worth while talking about. For, just as soon as men investigate for themselves the subject of education and scientific knowledge at that period, their ideas change and they begin not only to respect but to admire the great work done by thinkers and educators in those misunderstood ages. Literally men come to scoff and remain to pray. The more one knows about the Middle Ages the less does one say in depreciation of them. Just as soon as one studies faithfully any special feature of the work they did, at once lack of comprehension changes to respect and then to reverence for their industrious, misjudged and calumniated scholars.

This is as true for men of science as for those who are interested in art and literature. A typical example is Professor Huxley. Surely if there was anyone who might be expected to consider what had been done in the Middle Ages as unworthy the attention of a modern scientific educator it would be the great Darwinian controversialist. He had studied the educational situation in the Universities of the Middle Ages, however, for himself, and had not assumed that he possessed a knowledge of them a priori. Accordingly in his inaugural address as Rector of the University of Aberdeen, some thirty years ago, he said: “The scholars seem to have studied Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric; Arithmetic and Geometry; Astronomy; Theology; and Music. Thus, their work, however imperfect and faulty, judged by modern lights, it may have been, brought them face to face with all the leading aspects of the many-sided mind of man. For these studies did really contain, at any rate, in embryo – sometimes it may be in caricature – what we now call Philosophy, Mathematical and Physical Science and Art. And I doubt if the curriculum of any modern University shows so clear and generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture, as this old Trivium and Quadrivium docs.”

Huxley has no illusions with regard to the backwardness of the Middle Ages in education or in science. He has not assumed to know all about the period of which he really knows nothing and then talks as if he knew all about it. He had gone into the investigation of the details of the subject before making his declarations and as a consequence he differs completely from those who have only a pretence of knowledge in the matter. His opinion thus frankly expressed always recalls to me the expression of a famous American humorist, Josh Billings, which I like to repeat because it sums up so thoroughly the significance of many opinions held by educators who ought to know better with regard to the history of education. Josh Billings, writing as Uncle Esek in the Century twenty-five years ago, said: “It is not so much the ignorance of mankind that makes them ridiculous as the knowing so many things that ain’t so.”

As a matter of fact, as I think I have shown in my book The Thirteenth – Greatest of Centuries, there probably never was a hundred years in human history that produced such great men, gave rise to so many important movements, accomplished so much that was to have enduring influence in art, in literature, in education, and in democracy, as this century with which Albert’s long life is so nearly coincident. The surprise with regard to the epithet Great is rather increased than diminished by this consideration, however, because he received this name which has clung so tenaciously to him from these generations of the thirteenth century, themselves so fruitful in supremely accomplished scholars, men with wonderful power to express in every department of human endeavor the thoughts that were in them. If they called him Great, then it is no wonder that succeeding centuries have adopted this title, until now it has become a part of Albert’s name and constitutes the ready way by which we differentiate him most easily from many other Alberts in history.

Perhaps the most interesting phase of the history of Albert’s right to the title, so far as the modern world is concerned, would be the fact that it was largely due to his knowledge of science.

The assumption that there was no study of nature in the early times of the Universities is one of those curious unfounded traditions which exist in people’s minds and which the critical student of history finds it hard to account for. Anyone who wants to realize how much nature study there was in the thirteenth century should read his Dante with attention. In a chapter on the University Man and Science in my book The Popes and Science, I call attention to a few of the details of Dante’s knowledge of natural science and his interest in everything in nature. There is scarcely a poet in the modern time, no matter how recent or how much he has been trained in modern scientific nature study, who exhibits as much familiarity as Dante with all the round of sciences as they were known in his time. He does not parade his erudition. He uses his knowledge merely incidentally in order to bring out his meaning more clearly by figures drawn from science. There is no doubt that what we have from his pen in this matter represents only a little of what he actually knew, yet even that little shows a man familiar with phases of science utterly foreign to most of our modern poets.

It will not be too much, then, to say that Albertus Magnus received his title of Great to a considerable degree because of his knowledge of the physical sciences and the wonderful evolution in what we now call science that his suggestive original work effected. Science was a very inchoate department of knowledge at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Three-quarters of a century later, when Albert came to die, the deep and firm foundations of modern physical science had been laid, and at least one other great scientific investigator, who had probably been for a time a student with Albert, had done work in the physical sciences that was to make his name famous as one of the great scientists of all time and deserve for him the title unfortunately usurped by a namesake, who came three centuries later, of the founder of the experimental method. Roger Bacon and Albert accomplished the great initial work which means so much for science; they stepped across the boundaries of the unknown and blazed paths along which it was comparatively easy for subsequent generations to follow them in the mazes of scientific discovery. This is the aspect of Albert’s life which is likely to appeal to a generation interested mainly in physical science.

Quite apart from this controversial standpoint, however, the most interesting feature of Albert the Great’s life is his profound interest in physical science. We have come to limit the meaning of the word science to those branches of knowledge which are concerned with natural objects and which may be developed by the observation and the study of nature. Ordinarily we assume that nature study is a modern habit of mind. We are indeed inclined to criticize the founders of the Universities and the faculties of them for several centuries for not having devoted more time to the study of nature around them. They are supposed to have occupied themselves only with books and with book-learning. One reason for this is usually declared to have been that the Church, which was a very prominent factor in the Universities, feared the development of science lest it should disturb men’s minds and take them away from their simple faith in religious truth. The very attitude of mind of the scientist, that of an inquirer, is supposed to be entirely opposed to that calm acceptance of dogmas on authority which the Church considered the ideal attitude of the human mind all during the Middle Ages.

It is quite unnecessary to say that it is impossible to give anything like a full account of Albert’s life in the brief space at our command here. Besides his scientific career there is another phase of his life that deserves to be called especially to attention. This is the fact that while his own generation called him Great and subsequent generations adopted their opinion, the Church of which he was so devout a member all during life, always looked up to him as an ideal churchman, and nearly five centuries after his death raised him to her altars and gave him the title of Blessed. There is no doubt that before many years have passed this will be replaced by the title of Saint, which he will share with his great pupil and fellow-worker, Saint Thomas Aquinas. Already the cause of his canonization has been, at the suggestion of the Bishops of Germany, formally begun. The title will add nothing to his glory or merit, but will proclaim him one of those men whom the Christian Church considers to have lived their lives more for others than for themselves, for that is, I suppose, the simplest definition of a saint. When we reflect, then, that this ideal churchman was a great scientist, and that indeed most of his intellectual merit consists of his discoveries in science, it makes a curious contradiction of the old tradition of Church opposition to science during the Middle Ages.

Albert’s life contradicts many other false impressions held with regard to the Middle Ages besides its supposed neglect of science, and makes it very clear that about the same condition of affairs obtained with regard to education in the thirteenth century as in our own time. It is sometimes said that the nobility paid very little attention to education at this time. Some of them are even declared to have been proud of the fact that they did not know indeed how to read and write. It is evident that this meant no more than the declarations of successful business men in the modern time who, not having had the advantage of university education themselves, sometimes assert that such an education is a detriment rather than a benefit. The two greatest scholars of the thirteenth century, Albert and Aquinas, were both descended from noble families, and not noble families of the lower order, but, on the contrary, of very high rank. While Aquinas was a younger son of the Count of Aquino, and what we know of his elder brothers would seem to indicate that they cared very little for the things of the mind, it would be entirely wrong to conclude from this example that such intellectual interests were relegated to younger sons, for Albert was the eldest son of the Count of Bollstadt.

Albert was born at Lauingen in Suabia about the end of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century. There is a considerable difference of opinion as to the exact date. Some historians place it as early as 1193; others set it down as late as 1205 or 1206. The evidence for the later date is more convincing. It is enough for us to know that Albert’s life, like that of Cardinal Newman in the nineteenth century, ran almost coincident with his century. We know practically nothing of his early years or of the education which he received. It is very probable that whatever preparatory education he received was obtained from tutors under the parental roof. When scarcely more than a boy, certainly not more than sixteen or seventeen years of age, he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua. At this time there were two famous Universities in Italy, one at Bologna, the specialty of which was the study of law, and the other at Padua, distinguished for the opportunities afforded for education in the liberal arts. There is a tradition that Albert had a special predilection for these and a taste for languages which was to serve him in good stead later in life.

The exact date of Albert’s entrance to the University of Padua is unknown and the length of his stay there is uncertain. The first definite evidence that we have with regard to him as a young man is his entrance into the Order of Saint Dominic. He was attracted to the Order by being brought in contact with Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the second Master-General of the Order. The date of his entrance is definitely known to have been about 1222. Whether he continued his studies in Italy after he became a Dominican is not known. When next we hear of him he has completed his studies and is teaching theology in various places in what we now know as South Germany. There are records of his having occupied the chair of Professor of Theology at Hildesheim, at Freiburg in Breisgau, at Ratisbon, at Strasburg, and at Cologne. It was while he was teaching at Cologne, basing his lectures on the well-known Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard, that in 1245 he was selected to represent the Dominican Order in the great University of Paris.

There had been considerable jealousy of the religious orders at Paris. The Franciscans and Dominicans shortly after their foundations both established houses in the French capital, in order that their young men might have the advantage of the University life. Very probably also, besides the opportunity to hear various professors which was there afforded so abundantly, the orders wished their young men to have the advantage of the libraries and of various educational opportunities provided in Paris at this time. Both the Franciscans and Dominicans had tried to secure certain special privileges for the members of their orders. They wished to have the University recognize at full value certain courses taken in the religious houses of the orders and for this asked to have their professors given University rights. For a time the University authorities refused any such special privileges. The Pope, as the ultimate authority in all University matters throughout the world, had to be appealed to, and it was only after considerable delay and after the subject had been much discussed and the whole question of the rights of religious orders established by many of their learned men, that special privileges were accorded to the orders. We owe Saint Thomas Aquinas’s great work on the religious orders to this controversy. In the meantime both the Franciscans and Dominicans made it a point to send some of their most distinguished teachers and pupils to Paris in order that they might be well represented and that the prestige of their work might obtain the privileges demanded.

Albert had been teaching at Cologne in the year 1245 when he received the direction to go to Paris. With him at Cologne at the time was Thomas Aquinas, whose genius only his great teacher as yet really suspected. Thomas accompanied his master to Paris and they seem to have studied there together. Albert received the degree of doctor in the University of Paris, and in 1248 returned, Thomas once more with him, to Cologne, where the University had been reorganized. Albert now became the Rector of the University of Cologne, and the prestige of his success at Paris and the fact that he brought back with him the traditions of that great University did much to make this studium generate, as Universities were then called, a popular place, for German students at least. Thomas became the second professor and the magister studentium – master of students – a term about equivalent to that of Dean at the present time. His duties were to care for the students in all that related to the direction of their studies, though doubtless whatever of discipline was required also fell into his hands.

It was during the next six years, while Albert was the Rector of the University of Cologne, that he somehow found the time to write his great works on Physical Science. These are on nearly every subject connected with what we now call science. He has a treatise on Physics, on Meteors, on Minerals, on The Heavens and The Earth, on The Nature of Places, and on The Passions of the Air, the curious symbolic expression which he used for storms or atmospheric disturbances or what we would now call meteorology. In the biological sciences he has treatises on Plants, on Animals, on Animal Locomotion and Nutrition and Nutritives, on Generation and Corruption, on Age, on Death and Life, and on Respiration. In psychology he has treatises on The Soul, on Sense and Sensation, on Memory, on Sleep and Waking, on the Intellect, and on the Nature and Origin of the Soul. When we consider that there are all sorts of treatises on philosophic and metaphysical subjects besides these, is it any wonder that his contemporaries called him the universal doctor or that Engelbert, a writer of the time, calls him the wonder and the miracle of his age? Of course the ordinary impression of people of the modern time who read these titles will be that this medieval schoolman could have known very little about these subjects and that what he wrote must be mainly a tissue of absurdities. Absurd things there are in Albert’s writings, but almost without exception he states these on the authority of someone else and nearly always adds his own disbelief in them. Scholars who have studied Albert’s works most faithfully have thought the most of them. Among these must be included not only those whose sympathies, because of religious motives, would naturally go out to Albert, but those who would on that same ground judge him most severely. We have the testimony of some very distinguished modern scientists to the depth and breadth of Albert’s knowledge, while the testimonies which make little of him come from men who confess that they did not take the trouble to read him and who gather their opinions from others equally negligent or lacking the industry for this task.

Indeed for most of what we have just said with regard to Albert’s wide knowledge in the sciences we can have ample confirmation without looking farther afield than to so well-known an authority as Humboldt, the distinguished German physical scientist of the first half of the nineteenth century, who in his Kosmos has this to say of Albert:

Albertus Magnus was equally active and influential in promoting the study of natural science and of the Aristotelian philosophy. His works contain some exceedingly acute remarks on the organic structure and physiology of plants. One of his works bearing the title of Liber Cosmographicus de Natura Locorum is a species of physical geography. I have found in it considerations of the dependence of temperature concurrently on latitude and elevation, and on the effect of different angles of incidence of the sun’s rays in heating the ground, which have excited my surprise.

In the chapter of my book, The Thirteenth – Greatest of Centuries, on What They Studied at the Universities, I have discussed some additional evidence that we have with regard to each of these sciences for which Humboldt gives words of praise to his medieval predecessor in the knowledge of most of what was known in their respective days. Here I may only call attention to the fact that Humboldt evidently considers that Albert had made distinct contributions to botany and especially to the physiology of this science, to physical geography, to meteorology, and to astronomy. For some of these subjects we have further evidence that is of very great interest. M. Meyer, in his History of Botany, says that ” No botanist who lived before Albert can be compared to him, unless Theophrastus, with whom he was not acquainted; and after him none has painted nature in such living colors or studied it so profoundly until the time of Conrad Gessner and Cesalpino.” We may say that, according to his biographer, Sighart:

He was acquainted with the sleep of plants, with the periodical opening and closing of blossoms, with the diminution of sap through evaporation from the cuticle of the leaves, and with the influence of the distribution of the bundles of vessels on the folial indentations. His minute observations on the forms and variety of plants intimate an exquisite sense of floral beauty. He distinguished the star from the bell-floral, tells us that a red rose will turn white when submitted to the vapor of sulphur, and makes some very sagacious observations on the subject of germination.

Indeed, Albert’s contributions to botany seem so valuable to Meyer, the modern German historian of that subject, that he republished the great schoolman’s treatise in six books on Vegetables and Plants. This republication did more than anything else to disabuse modern scholars of the idea that the writings on natural science of the Middle Ages were either ridiculous or trivial in importance. Since this republication some thirty years ago, Albert’s other contributions to science have become much better known, and with him to know is always to admire. As a consequence, frequent tributes have been paid to the universal doctor, and men have come to realize how wise the generation was in which he lived. Pagel, the German historian of medicine, whom we have already quoted with regard to Albert, does not hesitate to say that his style, far from being uninteresting, is full of information, and that when he accepts curious stories on the authority of others, he does not fail to mention that fact and usually gives some hint that he did not credit the story himself. In a word, his was no merely encyclopedic knowledge, but it had been garnered in a proper critical spirit.

With regard to other phases of Albert’s scientific work, we have the same good modern authority as to its thorough-going significance. Pagel, who has written the chapters on Medieval Medicine and Science in Puschmann’s three-volume History of Medicine, says that the treatise on the nature of places which Humboldt praises, contains many very interesting suggestions with regard to ethnography and physiology. Pagel also finds words of commendation for various portions of Albert’s work on Physics. This discussed the principles of what used to be called Natural Philosophy, and its eight books, while forming a commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, go far beyond the Greek Philosopher in their treatment of the underlying principles of physical nature.

With regard to chemistry, there are many interesting contributions from Albert’s pen. He was, as we shall see, the first to make it very clear that the substances which were called spirits in the olden times because they often exploded and did serious damage, were only manifestations of natural forces and not of occult or other-worldly powers. One of Albert’s treatises on chemistry bears the name “The Causes and the Properties of the Elements.” His treatise on minerals contains, according to Pagel, besides an extended description of the ordinary peculiarities of minerals, which shows his own acuteness and that of his generation in observing even minute differences, a detailed description of nearly one hundred different kinds of precious stones. This book contains also a mine of information with regard to the metals, of which Albert describes seven, and the other familiar mineral substances of the time, salt, vitriol, alum, arsenic, amber, niter, and marcasite.

Albert was particularly interested in all such questions as relate to man and the higher animals. He gathered into a series of treatises all the knowledge of his own time and all that he could glean from the writings of those who had lived before him with regard to every phase of animal and human life. The result is that a list of his writings is a catalogue of works in science that can scarcely fail to astonish the modern mind, unaccustomed to the idea of interest in science, especially in the biological sciences, during the thirteenth century. Albert has two treatises on Generation and Corruption (De Generatione et Corruptione). He has a treatise on Respiration; another on The Motion of Animals (De Animalium Locomotione) which takes up the question both of the voluntary and involuntary motions performed by them. Then there is a treatise on The Senses (De Sensibus), another on Sleeping and Waking (De Somno et Vigilantia), and a third on Life and Death (De Vita et Morte). His studies in the psychology of animals and in human beings are especially interesting in the light of the fact that this subject has come to occupy so much attention in recent years. Besides his treatise on the Senses, Albert has a monograph on The Memory and The Imagination (De Memoria et Imaginatione); another, in two books, on the Intellect (De Intellecty,} ; and a third, in three books, on The Soul (De Anima), in which, of course following the scholastic philosophy of the time, the soul is considered the vital principle of the body as well as the underlying principle of the intellect, and in which of course a vitalism that would be more popular just at the present time than at any other period for the last half century, is emphatically taught. Along this same line, Albert has a treatise on Youth and Old Age (De Juventute et Senectute), in which he discusses many of the important problems of human life and its relation above all to the development of the will and the character. There is scarcely a phase of the modern biological sciences, even that of the higher psychology, which is not touched upon by Albert, and in many passages he presents what are really marvelous anticipations of some supposedly very modern thought.

But Albert’s devotion to the biological sciences did not keep him from paying serious attention to what we now call, in contradistinction to them, the physical sciences, the classified knowledge of inanimate things. Some of his work in physics and chemistry deserves to be better known because it constitutes special chapters in the history of these sciences.

One of the most interesting things that Albert did in these subjects was his investigation of the origin of gases. It had often been noticed that when men descended into certain caves or into mines, or into old wells, they lost their lives. This was usualy attributed to the devils who were supposed to inhabit such dark places, and who resented the coming-in of men. Sometimes when lights were carried into such places, instead of being merely extinguished, they proved to be the origin of serious explosions. This was, of course, attributed to the powers of darkness, who doubly resented the presence of light in their domain. Albert, however, did not accept any such explanation. He suggested that there were certain substances which emanated from the rocks or from the soil in these places which led to the deaths of men or of animals who wandered into them, or which caused the explosions when naked lights were carried into them. It was in his time, and it is usually considered to be the result of his initiative that the word spirit came to be applied very generally to such volatile substances as readily produced gas when heated and which thus give rise to explosions. The word spiritus had originally been employed for these substances, because they were supposed to contain within them certain evil spirits which resented the application of heat; but this idea was completely overturned by Albert’s investigations. In the light of all that we know about Albert’s devotion to the physical sciences the attitude of many historians and scholars toward the question of the Church’s relation to science at this time is amusing and somewhat amazing. President White, for instance, acknowledges Albert’s wonderful contributions to science in every form, but attributes the fact that he should have paid so much attention to Philosophy and Theology to the opposition which he encountered as regards his scientific studies and publications.

Surely any such view as this utterly ignores the extraordinary vogue of Albert’s books on sciences. They existed in many manuscript copies and were constantly reproduced by the slow labor of writing by hand. This must have required the unfailing devotion of his disciples and his Dominican brethren. His works were carefully preserved, written again and again, although they contain several million words, by successive generations of Dominicans, and they were looked upon not as suspicious books but as precious contributions to human knowledge. There is no account anywhere in Albert’s life of any opposition aroused by his devotion to science.

So far indeed from the fact is President White’s declaration with regard to Albert’s deliberate neglect of physical science, in order that he might devote himself more to philosophy and theology, that Albert’s books and writings on physical science loomed so large in the minds of his contemporaries and of the immediately succeeding generations, that one of the objections sometimes urged against Albert is that his interest in scientific subjects did not permit him to pay as much attention as he ought to the sacred sciences. This opinion was expressed rather emphatically by Henry of Ghent in his Ecclesiastical Writers. The list of Albert’s published works on Philosophy, Theology, and Scripture forms, as is well remarked by his biographer in The Catholic Encyclopedia, an all-sufficient vindication from the charge that he neglected Theology and Sacred Sciences. With this side of Albert’s activity as a writer we have nothing to do here, because we are interested only in his scientific work.

Those who think that science as we know the term at the present day is a modern invention or a modern development of human intellectual accomplishment, need only to read Albert’s original works, and if they will take the trouble there will be no doubt of the existence of not only the most enthusiastic interest in natural science during the thirteenth century, but also the most successful elucidation of many of its problems. The great foundations of most of the modern sciences were then laid. We are prone to think that at most a few paths were broken in the unknown land of natural science and that at best the advances were few, the horizons distant, the views shadowy. We are apt to imagine that only a science or two, a little physics and chemistry were touched upon, and that these were followed with such curious mistaken notions as to make any real advance impossible. We have been accustomed to make fun of the search for the philosopher’s stone by which base metals would be transmuted into the precious metals, but ten years ago, apparently, we found the long-sought-for philosopher’s stone in the metal radium, for by means of its emanations we can apparently transform metals into one another. Radium itself changes into helium, though both were thought to be elementary substances. And at the last meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Sir William Ramsey announced the transmutation of copper and lithium by means of radium emanations. Our greatest of living chemists in the English-speaking world may not have solved the problem of metallic transmutation, as he thinks he has; but he frankly places himself beside the old alchemists in his work. Already a modern professor of chemistry had suggested that he would like to examine a mass of lead-ore carefully, and having extracted all the silver that occurs in lead ore, would like to lay it aside for twenty years and see whether, at the end of that time he would not find more silver in the mass. His idea is evidently that lead in nature probably constantly changes into silver by slow degrees, so that the old alchemists were not so foolish, but, on the contrary, anticipated what is most modern in chemistry.

As a matter of fact, what strikes one after a while when he has become familiar with what was accomplished in science in the Middle Ages is that they should have anticipated so much of what is considered to be modern in science, and that, considering how far they went, it is amazing that in nearly seven centuries we have gone so little farther than they did. This is true, however, not only in chemistry and in physics, but in practically every department of natural science, for all of these were opened up and, as we have seen, Albert himself was a pioneer and great thinker in nearly every one of them, as good authorities in modern science familiar with his writings have declared.

Albert’s attitude toward what we have come to recognize as the true method of science, the experimental method, is the best possible evidence for his great accomplishments in science. There are many who still believe that it was Francis Bacon at the beginning of the seventeenth century who laid the foundation of the inductive sciences. Any such opinion is founded entirely on ignorance of what was accomplished during the medieval centuries, and it has its only reason for being in that curious blindness which has led so many people during the last three or four centuries to be unable to see anything good in the Nazareth of the times before the so-called Reformation. All the real historians of science in the last twenty-five years have been rejecting the notion of the leadership of Francis Bacon in this matter and have been engaged in pointing out that he was only a publicist who had the good fortune to write a book on the subject that became popular, but that the real father of the inductive sciences was his great namesake Roger Bacon, nearly four centuries before. While this title of the great Franciscan of the thirteenth century is indisputable, there is no doubt that his sometime teacher Albert had anticipated most of the principles of experimental science and method even before Roger Bacon.

In the epigraphs at the beginning of this sketch I have quoted some sentences from Albert’s writings that make it very clear how much of dependence he placed on experiment in science and how thoroughly he realized that this was the only possible method of obtaining exact knowledge with regard to natural objects. In bringing those epigraphs together it seemed worth while to place beside them a great expression from Saint Augustine conveying the same truth in different language, for from Augustine to Albert there is 800 years and the work of these two has dominated Christianity for 1500 years, so that their spirit represents the real policy of the scholars and the genuine attitude of mind of the great theologians. Unfortunately it is the custom of writers of history only too often to take the expressions of obscure writers, or chance remarks of such men as Augustine and Albert, apart from their context, as indicative of the attitude of the Church and of ecclesiastics during this period to science. The unfairness of this is easy to understand, but it has represented one of the ways in which history has been, if not deliberately falsified, at least made to lean toward the opinions of the writer rather than to express the true significance of events.

There is no doubt at all of Albert’s devotion to theological science or of the magnificent results that he achieved therein. In spite of all that his great disciple Saint Thomas Aquinas accomplished in this department, Albert still continued and continues to be looked upon as one of the living authorities on this subject. It was this great theologian, however, who declared in his book on Minerals, “that the aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature.” The rule that he thus laid down for the sciences relating to inanimate things, he applied also to the biological sciences when he wrote about plants. In his treatise On Plants he says, in an expression that has often been quoted since, “experiment is the only sure method in such investigations.” The wording of the original Latin is worth remembering because of the deep significance of the expression: Experimentum solum certificat in talibus.

When we have all this before us from this great physical scientist and theologian we are not so surprised as we might otherwise be by his famous declaration: “In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His Creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power: we have rather to inquire what nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.” It is this sentence occurring in his treatise on the Heavens and the Earth that makes it very clear how little of opposition there was in Albert’s mind between his faith and his science. One is not surprised to find after this declaration that, although Albert’s favorite author was Saint Augustine, he preferred Aristotle to Saint Augustine in matters of science. At the same time he did not hesitate to point out many errors in Aristotle; in fact, in his famous Summa of theology he devotes a lengthy chapter to the errors of the Greek philosopher and Albert thus shows that he still maintained the opinion which he had expressed in his Book of Sentences: “Whoever believes that Aristotle is a god must also believe that he never erred, but if one believes that Aristotle is a man, then beyond all doubt he was liable to err just as we are.”

It is no wonder that we find that Roger Bacon, a greater physical scientist than Albert, thought much of his great predecessor, and, although he was rather inclined to be critical of his contemporaries and forerunners in science, had only praise for Albert. He said of him: ” Albert was most serious, had a broad outlook on the world of knowledge and an immense capacity for work. He could therefore collect much information in the vast scene of writings.” Albert was much more conservative than Roger Bacon, had much more of sympathy for the failure of others to follow him in his scientific work, a failure which constitutes one of the sources of that trouble that great original scientists nearly always prepare for themselves, and as a consequence, as Turner in his History of Philosophy has so well pointed out, he ” contributed far more than Bacon did to the advancement of science in the thirteenth century.” Roger Bacon has insisted on how much of information Albert obtained from books, but he knew that Albert must have done much personal investigation. His use of books, as has already been illustrated by his attitude toward the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, of whom he thought so much, was eminently critical and much more like that which has become common in our own time than is to be noted in any of his contemporaries.

Perhaps the most interesting phase of Albert’s knowledge for the modern times is his refusal to accept some of the beliefs which were very commonly credited in his time and which our generation usually sets down as having been accepted by even the deepest scholars of the Middle Ages. For instance, though many of his contemporaries believed in the possibility of the transmutation of metals Albert did not, but on the contrary, rather emphatically disapproved of the notion and considered that any such change was absolutely impossible. He thought that substances as we know them were essentially different, and proclaimed that “art alone cannot produce a substantial form.” With regard to magic and its supposed marvelous power, so commonly believed in even by the wisest in the earlier Middle Ages, and which Albert found so completely accepted by many of his great predecessors and teachers, the great Dominican scholar was very emphatic in his rejection of all belief in it. He said, ” I do not approve what Avicenna and Algazel have said with regard to fascination (of magic) because I believe that magic can do no harm, that magical arts have no power for evil, and they do not accomplish any of the things that are feared from them.”

With regard to other curious beliefs of his time Albert maintained the same sceptical attitude. Even a cursory reading of his works shows that he refused to accept many of the fairy tales of science and of popular tradition which were so commonly received in his time. It is only great original minds of supreme depth and force that are thus able to get away from the delusions common in their time; and every age, despite its self-complacent reproach of previous ages for their credulousness, may well consider itself as subject to them. We have them in our time, and only the great scholars rise superior to them, as did Albert in the thirteenth century. His biographer, Sighart, has collected a series of the fables and pseudo-scientific stories which were rejected by Albert. His paragraph helps to give us a better idea of what the great scholar thus accomplished than perhaps could be obtained in any other way. He says:

He treats as fabulous the commonly received idea, in which Bede has acquiesced, that the region of the earth south of the equator was uninhabitable, and considers that from the equator to the South Pole, the earth was not only habitable, but in all probability actually inhabited except directly at the poles, where he imagines the cold to be excessive. If there be any animals there, he says, they must have very thick skins to defend them from the rigor of the climate, and they are probably of a white color. The intensity of cold is, however, tempered by the action of the sea. He describes the antipodes and the countries they comprise, and divides the climate of the earth into seven zones. He smiles with a scholar’s freedom at the simplicity of those who suppose that persons living at the opposite region of the earth must fall off, an opinion that can only rise out of the grossest ignorance, “for when we speak of the lower hemisphere, this must be understood merely as relative to ourselves.” It is as a geographer that Albert’s superiority to the writers of his own time chiefly appears. Bearing in mind the astonishing ignorance which then prevailed on this subject, it is truly admirable to find him correctly tracing the chief mountain chains of Europe with the rivers which take their source in each; remarking on portions of coast which have in later times been submerged by the ocean, and islands which have been raised by volcanic action above the level of the sea; noticing the modification of climate caused by mountains, seas, and forests, and the division of the human race, whose differences he ascribes to the effect upon them of the countries they inhabit! In speaking of the British Isles he alludes to the commonly received idea that another distant Island called Tile or Thule existed far in the Western Ocean, uninhabitable by reason of its frightful climate, but which, he says, has perhaps not yet been visited by man.

Nothing will so seriously disturb the complacency of modern minds as to the wonderful advances that have been made in the last century in all branches of physical science as to read Albert’s writings. Nothing can be more wholesomely chastening of present-day conceit than to get a proper appreciation of the extent of the knowledge of the schoolmen. Nowhere can one get a better notion of the immense amount of even scientific information possessed by those whom so many educated (!) people now call in derision the scholastics than from Albert’s writings, consulted at first-hand and not in the garbled extracts of modern unsympathetic commentators.

But to turn to Albert’s career. For six years after his return from Paris he remained as what we would now call the Rector of the University of Cologne. His success in this responsible position naturally suggested other and higher posts for his administrative ability. Accordingly in 1254 he was elected the Provincial of the Order in Germany. This took him away from immediate touch with teaching and investigation, but gave him abundant opportunities for the encouragement of learning in every department in all the houses of his Order in Germany. His influence was felt everywhere. Two years after his election as Provincial he went to Rome, in order to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks which had been made upon them, particularly by William of Saint Amour. The condemnation of William’s book, “On the Latest Dangers of the Time,” was secured from Pope Alexander IV on 5 October 1256. It is rather interesting to realize how thoroughly appreciated Albert must have been. He had been chosen to go to Paris as the representative of what was best in the intellectuality of his Order. He was delegated to go to Rome to defend it against the attacks of those who did not appreciate all the spirituality there was in the religious orders of the time. Evidently Albert was looked upon as a representative of all that was best in his Order.

How much Albert was thought of in Rome, though he was now at least fifty years of age and a large part of his life-work in the natural sciences and in the application of the experimental method had already been accomplished, may be appreciated from the fact that during his stay in the Papal capital he was appointed to fill the office of Master of the Papal Palace. This office had been instituted in the time of Saint Dominic and was generally considered to be one of the highest honors that could come to a man. It was honorary rather than administrative, and was usually conferred on men who were chosen as the recipients of a signal expression of the approbation of the ecclesiastical authorities. That his selection for this office was no idle compliment paid to the man or the prestige of his name as a great scholar may be realized from the fact that he was asked at the same time to preach in Rome on the Gospel of Saint John and on the Canonical Epistles. Then as now, only those were chosen to be public preachers in Rome of whose thoroughgoing orthodoxy and absolute concordance with the spirit and tradition of the Church there was not the slightest doubt.

The cares of office, however, apparently hung heavy on Albert’s shoulders and he was not one of those for whom honors and dignities would make up for the time that he had to devote to administrative details. He was anxious to get back to his studies and investigations, his teaching, and his writings. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257. His departure from Rome had relieved him of the cares of the office of Master of the Papal Palace. At once he devoted himself not only to his own studies, but to making the studies of the members of his Order more effective. Within a few years we can find him a prominent factor in the reorganization of the Dominican studies, which had been discussed for some time and finally taken up for formal action at the general chapter of the Order held at Valenciennes in 1259. This chapter laid down rules for the direction of the studies of the younger Dominicans and suggested methods of teaching by which their education would be made more efficient. The system of graduation was also modified in such a way as to make it sure that the graduates from Dominican schools would be in every way the equals of the graduates from the Universities.

It might be thought that the ideas of these men of the thirteenth century with regard to the methods of teaching and requirements of graduation would be very vague and indefinite. The members of the committee responsible for the new order of things then determined on were Albert, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Peter of Tarenpasia, who afterwards reached the distinction of being made Pope under the name of Pope Innocent V. Though his name is not so familiar to modern scholars as those of the other two members of this perhaps the most distinguished committee for the revision of studies that ever held sessions, he was the author of a series of works on philosophy, theology, and canon law, and of commentaries on the Epistles of Saint Paul and the Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard, which are well known to scholars. For these contributions to the philosophic and theological literature of an especially copious century he is sometimes spoken of as Famosissimus Doctor – the most famous doctor. It is very evident that the question of the organization of studies was taken very much to heart by the Dominicans, since they selected three such men as these for the work, and since three such men were willing to take the time from their own occupations and were ready to devote their learning and experience to the subject.

Albert had become so much appreciated at Rome that in spite of his own anxiety to remain a simple Dominican and devote himself to his studies he could not succeed in escaping promotion to the hierarchy. In the year 1260 he was selected as the Bishop of Ratisbon. As soon as he heard of the proposed elevation to the episcopacy, Albert tried to secure the cancellation of the appointment and appealed for this purpose to the Master General of the Dominicans. The latter endeavored as far as was possible to prevent the appointment of Albert, but the Roman authorities were confident that Albert’s genius and administrative ability would serve the best purposes of the Church as a bishop. Albert bowed his head in submission then, and accepted the post. After two years he had succeeded in reorganizing the affairs of the bishopric, and then at his earnest request he was allowed to resign and he once more took up the duties of a professor in the University of Cologne. Here he seems to have spent the next eight years in peace in the midst of his favorite occupations of investigating, writing, and teaching. He was too great a man, however, to be allowed to continue his work so peacefully, and in 1270 we find him aiding Saint Thomas in combating certain of the philosophical heretics of the time.

The great distinction of his life was yet to come. In 1274 he was summoned by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons, in the deliberations of which he took a most important part as the direct representative of the Pope. His colleague in this office of honor and responsibility was his old pupil and life-long friend, Saint Thomas Aquinas. Albert received the news of Saint Thomas’s death as he himself was on the way to the Council. It proved a very serious blow to him. He declared that the light of the Church had been extinguished. Something of the beautifully sympathetic relationship that had existed between the two men can be appreciated from the fact that ever afterwards the master could not restrain his tears whenever the name of Saint Thomas was mentioned. Many lives of these two great men have been written, and yet this special chapter of their beautiful friendship remains to have such treatment as it deserves. They were the two greatest geniuses of their age, probably also two of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. In spite of their occupation with the same questions, involving not a few differences of opinion on minor points, there seems never to have been anything to disturb the wondrous harmony of their friendship.

Albert was now past seventy years of age and might be expected to begin to lose something of the vigor of his intellectuality. When he was nearly seventy-five, however, there is a flash of all his old mental brilliancy because of a movement on the part of certain writers and thinkers of the time to bring about the condemnation of the writings of Saint Thomas, on the plea that Saint Thomas had made too much and held in too high estimation the old Pagan philosopher, Aristotle. Albert’s physical strength even seemed renewed at this and he journeyed to Paris in order to defend the memory of his pupil. For a year more he continued to be the great scholar of his time and the light of his period. Then, in 1278, his memory began to go and his strong mind gave way. For a time he seems to have been without the use of his intellectual faculty in the rapidly advancing senile decay that came over him. He had been a man of immense labors and this must have been another trial, in as far as he was conscious of it, but, until the end, he retained his placidity and peaceful acceptance of the will of God. With his passing who can doubt that there departed from the scene of his earthly labors one of the most wonderful geniuses that the world has ever known and one of the most original thinkers in the history of the race. The more we know of him, the more we admire the critical judgment of an age that attached to his name for all time the epithet Great, and the more we learn to appreciate the wisdom of the immediately succeeding generations, who gave him the title of the Universal Doctor.

from Catholic Churchmen in Science by James Joseph Walsh, 1909

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/catholic-churchmen-in-science-albertus-magnus/

Albertus Magnus, Schwabentorbrücke (Freiburg im Breisgau)


Albertus Magnus, Schwabentorbrücke (Freiburg im Breisgau)


ALBERT THE GREAT (Albert of Lauingen, Albert of Cologne)—theologian, philsopher, natural scientist, Bishop of Regensburg, called doctor universalis, doctor expertus, a doctor of the Church, b. around 1200 in Lauingen in Swabia, d. November 15, 1280 in Cologne.

Albert came from a family of Swabian knights. He studied in northern Italy, chiefly in Padua. In Padua in 1223 he entered the Dominicans. He was in the novitiate in Cologne and after completing his theological studies and receiving Holy Orders, from 1223 on he had the role of lector of the order in various convents (Hildesheim, Freiburg im Breisgau, Regensburg, and Strassburg). In the early 1240s, at the recommendation of the Dominican authorities, he went to Paris where he lectured on the Sentences of Peter Lombard and prepared for a magisterium in theology, which he obtained in 1245. In Paris he developed his scholarly and didactic work and his writings, bearing fruit in many eminent works and acquiring exceptional renown. In 1248 Albert was transferred to Cologne to organize a studium generale for the Dominicans of the German province, and he directed this until 1254. One of his students at that school was Thomas Aquinas, who probably also heard Albert’s lectures while in Paris. In 1252 Albert recommended Thomas for the position of Master of theology at the University of Paris. From 1254 to 1257 Albert was the provincial of the extensive German province. In Anagni, at the court of Pope Alexander IV, he participated in a defense of the mendicant orders (1256). He also led a disputation concerning Averroes’ doctrine of the unicity of the intellect. He spent the year 1257 to 1260 again in Cologne teaching. In 1260 Pope Alexander IV appointed Albert as the Bishop of Regensburg. After two years at his own request he was relieved of his duties as ordinary of the diocese and as a papal legate preached a crusade in the German-speaking lands. From 1264 to 1270 he was again in Würzburg and Strassburg, then returned to Cologne. Besides his scholarly and literary work, he was active with many duties connected with his authority to consecrate bishops. He also had the role of judge and arbiter. He took part in the Second Council of Lyons (1274), but whether he went to Paris (1276) is open to question (Weisheipl). In Paris he was supposed to defend the positions of Thomas, who by that time was already dead, against the condemnation that had been prepared.

Apart from Thomas, who went his own way, even though he owed so much to his teacher, Albert taught other eminent students (Hugo Ripelin, Ulrich of Strassburg, and Dietrich of Freiburg). These disciples chiefly developed his neo-Platonic theories. Albert had a great influence on the intellectual life of the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century Albert was beatified at the request of the University of Cologne where the Albertists had gained a strong position. He was canonized in 1931.

Albert’s literary accomplishments are imposing. He wrote De natura boni before 1240. During his time in Paris he wrote: De Sacramentis, De Incarnatione, De bono, De quattuor coaequaevis, De homine, and Super IV libros Sententiarum. His philosophical encyclopedia was written over many years (until around 1270) and it contains paraphrases of almost all of the known works of Aristotle, and even goes beyond their catalogue. These works are: Physica, De caelo et mundo, De natura loci, De causis proprietatum elementorum, De generatione et corruptione, Meteora, Mineralia, De anima and the so-called parva naturalia (De nutrimento et nutribili, De sensu et sensato, De memoria et reminiscentia, De intellectu et intelligibili, De somno et vigilia, De spiritu et respiratione, De motius animalium, De iuventute et senectute, and De morte et vita), De vegetabilibus, De animalibus, De principiis motus processivi, De natura et origine animae, Metaphysica, Ethica and Super Ethica, and Politica He connected his paraphrases of Aristotle’s logical works (Peri hermeneia, Analytica priora, Analytica posteriora, Topica, De sophisticis elenchis) with paraphrases of Porphyry (Super Porphyrium De V praedicamentis), Boethius (De divisione), and Gilbert (De sex principiis). His other paraphrases were Liber de causis (De causis et processu universitatis a causa prima), the works of Pseudo-Dionysius (Super Dionysium De divinis nominibus, Super Dionysii mysticam theologian, Super Dionysium De caelesti hierarchia, Super Dionysii epistulas). His minor works include: De unitate intellectus, De XV problematibus, Problemata determinata, and De fato. Albert’ was writing his last work toward the end of his life, the unfinished Summa theologiae de mirabili scientia Dei. Many of Albert’s work are biblical commentaries, homiletic works, and works on Christian spirituality. Not all of Albert’s works have been published, and over the centuries many inauthentic works have been published under his name (e.g., Summa philosophiae naturalis, Speculum astronomiae, De secretis mulierum, De alchemia).

Collections of Albert’s works have been published: Alberti Magni Opera, ed. P. Jammy, Ly 1651, 21 volumes; Opera omnia, ed. A. Borgnet, P 1890–1899, 36 volumes; starting in 1951 the Institute of Albert the Great in Cologne began the publication of a critical edition (Editio Colonensis) which is planned to include 40 volumes: Sancti Doctoris Ecclesiae Alberti Magni, Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum, Opera omnia, ad fidem codicum manuscriptorum edenda, apparatu critico, notis prolegomenis, indicibus instruenda curavit Institutum Alberti Magni Coloniense Bernhardo Geyer praeside (ab 1978 Wilhelmo Kübel praeside). At present 13 volumes have been published, consisting of 9 volumes that have two parts each and 4 single volumes, and 2 other volumes have been published in part.

Certain texts have been separately published prior to that, e.g., De animalibus libri XXVI, 2 volumes, ed. H. Stadler, Mr 1916–1920. There are also fragmentary lectures in modern languages.

Albert’s accomplishments are primarily connected with the history the reception of Aristotelianism in western Europe, a history that was not without conflict. He was the first to attempt to explain and transmit the whole of Greek and Arab philosophical and scientific thought to Latin culture, as he was convinced that this would be an opportunity for progress and growth. In his works, Albert collected a wealth of material from diverse sources (Aristotelianism, neo-Platonism, Arab thought, Augustinianism) and from diverse domains (theology, philosophy, and various areas of the science of his time), but his ability to compile sources was often not equal to his ability to integrate them into a whole. Yet he was not merely a collector, compiler and man of erudition, as some have judged him. In some recent scholarly works we see a tendency to explore Albert the Great’s texts in greater depth, which makes it possible for us to reach the leading ideas that unify the polymorphous world of his thought, and a new method of interpretation has been proposed (H. Anzulewicz).

THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY. Albert the Great’s philosophical and theological position rose from his conviction that natural knowledge, as he called philosophy following Aristotle, does not pose a threat to theology, since they are different domains, both with respect to their objects and to their methods. Theology speaks in the light of Revelation of God as the highest good and the beatific end of human desires, and of piety as the path to union with God. It is affective knowledge, involves the entire man, and gives him an orientation in life. We should emphasize that Albert the Great’s understanding of theology was not the same as Thomas’. In his conception of theology, Albert remained faithful to St. Augustine, while in his conception of natural science (or philosophy) he followed Aristotle. For Albert, philosophy had value in itself, not only in view of its service to theology. Philosophy seeks the truth in the world and relies on the reason as the ultimate instance of evidence. In his theological works, Albert employed his wide philosophical learning. He was interested in comparing what the “saints” had said (those who expressed the doctrinal traditions of Christianity) with the opinions of the philosophers, and he valued the role of philosophy in investigating and defending the truths of the faith.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF BEING. Albert the Great followed Aristotle in dividing theoretical philosophy (which he called “real”, as distinct from “moral” and “rational” philosophy, namely ethics and logic) into: (a) physics, whose object is the “changing body” (“corpus mobile”); (b) mathematics, which studied the quantitative aspect of material things; and (c) metaphysics, which studies being as being, prior to the more specific descriptions and differentiations that were studied by the other sciences, and for this reason metaphysics is the first philosophy. Since metaphysics rises to the knowledge of immaterial beings and the first cause, it excels the other sciences also in dignity (it is the “divine” science).

Albert’s paraphrase of the Metaphysics presents a systematic lecture in the first philosophy. For Albert as for Aristotle, substance is the fundamental category of being, while form is the fundamental element of being. Form gives a being “esse” (form shapes a being’s essence). Form gives a being “ratio” (form is the principle of knowledge and the basis for definition). Besides the “form of the part” (“forma partis”), which shapes matter in hylemorphically composite beings, Albert introduces the “form of the whole” (“forma totius”), which shapes the specific nature of an individual being. Here Albert uses the terminology of Boethius who distinguishes in every being apart from the first being “quo est” or “esse” (the defined specific nature), and “quod est” (the individual being). Albert uses this distinction when he explains the ontological structure of spiritual beings (angels and the human spirit—the structure of spiritual beings is expressed differently in philosophical writings such as De anima). Albert also uses this distinction to explain intellectual abstraction. It is thus connected with the problem of universals (Albert distinguishes the universal “ante rem”, “in re”, and “post rem”; the universal “post rem” is the intellectually apprehended total form), and it is connected with Avicenna’s conception of a “common nature” (“natura communis”). Both distinct forms concern the same essential level in the analysis of being. This leads to difficulties in interpretation. His sporadic use of the term “esse” (“quo est”) to denote existence does not play any greater role in Albert’ writings, as some have thought. Albert rejects the concept of spiritual matter and universal hylemorphism. He demonstrates that hylemorphic composition occurs only in material beings. He also rejects in principle pluralism of forms. Lower forms do not actually co-exist in one being with a higher form, but they become potencies of the higher form according to the principle of the order of formal causes (e.g., the vegetative and sensory souls do not actually exist in man apart from his rational soul, but they are the potential “parts” of the rational soul). Albert conceives of prime matter as the potential element in being, but his conception differs from that of Thomas. Albert holds that if a form is to be united with matter, it must first be initiated or in a germinal state in the matter (“inchoatio formae”, a counterpart to “rationes seminales”?); thus prime matter is not pure potency.

Aristotle’s first motor of the universe becomes for Albert the Great the first efficient cause of everything, God the Creator and the end of the desires of all creatures, and the form that shapes everything by his light. Albert interprets Aristotle in the light of the Liber de causis, holding that this text is the completion and crowning of the Metaphysics. In Albert’s paraphrase of the Liber de causis, called De causis et processu universitatis, Albert writes of all being in relation to the first cause. The work presents a neo-Platonic image of the universe inscribed on to an Aristotelian model of the cosmos. It is an hierarchical universe connected by a chain of transmitted and received influences. The universe is described in a manner close to the metaphysics of emanation, although it is interpreted in the spirit of monotheism and creationism. Albert strongly emphasizes God’s transcendence. We know of God only what we can infer from the fact that he is the first cause and creator, and the highest intellect who penetrates and encompasses the whole universe with his uncreated light (which is the principle that shapes the universe). God is the source of all being and knowledge, the efficient and formal cause of everything. He is absolutely first, necesesary, unique and simple. He is life, fulness of wisdom, the highest good, omnipotent, and at the same time inconceivable in his essence. The universe is a reflection in degrees of God’s uncreated light. The intelligences stand highest in the hierarchy—these are pure spiritual beings who move the cosmic spheres yet exist in complete independence from matter and bear in themselves a likeness to the first cause. Albert follows his model (the Liber de causis) and repeats that “to-be (esse) is the first among created things.” “Esse” is the first direct effect of the first cause. It is “being” is its highest generality, before all closer determinations and concretizations. How this first “esse” is related to the first intelligence is not completely clear. The first intelligence occupies a special place in the universe and seems to contain the outline of the entire universe. After the intelligences are the souls endowed with intellect (animae nobiles, which exist “at the boundary of eternity and time”). Although they are connected with bodies, they are like the intelligences independent of matter in their existence. Next there are forms that are inseparably connected with matter, starting from sensory and vegetative souls, which partially overcome an immersion in matter, to minerals and elements, whcih are completely immersed in matter. The uncreated light operates in the whole universe, pouring out through all its regions and using their intermediate degrees and their operations as instruments. The operations of the intelligences, the motions of the heavenly spheres, the “virtus formativa” in seeds, the properties of the elements, and the elementary qualities are all connected into the dynamic structure of the universe. This structure is created and upheld by the first cause. These visions are inspired by the Liber de causis and the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, and they are repeated throughout Albert’s works. They are the framework for Albert’s particular exposition of philosophy. In this context, the concepts of Aristotelian metaphysics (especially the concept of form) take on new meaning. The metaphor of light is raised to the rank of an ontological principle. Albert refers here not only to neo-Platonic conceptions, but to a metaphysics of light.

THE CONCEPTION OF MAN. Albert repeatedly treats the problematic of man, beginning with his Summa de homine, and in both his theological and philosophical writings. His conception of man differs from that of Thomas, although there are verbal similarities. Albert insists on a conception of the soul that comes from Augustine (and ultimately from Plato), that the soul is a complete spiritual substance. However, he does not reject Aristotle’s conception of the soul as the form (act or perfection) of the body. He tries to treat both conceptions of the soul as complementary and Avicenna provides him with the key to resolve the problem. Albert accepts Avicenna’s explanation that Aristotle conceives of the soul not in its essence, but with respect to its function for the body. In itself, the soul is a spiritual substance like an angel, but differing from an angel in its “inclination to a body” (“inclinatio ad corpus”), or its ability to join with a body (the soul is “unibilis corpori”).

In De anima, the soul is treated as being similar to an intelligence, as an “somewhat clouded intelligence” (or “creata in umbra intelligentiae”), The soul truly shapes the existence of the body and gives the body “esse et ratio”, but it is not the form of the body by its essence. Furthermore, the body must capable of connection with the soul and shaped in a certain way before the connection takes place (of all the bodies on earth, the human body is most similar to a heavenly body). Some writers see in Albert the Great’s conception of the soul a certain form of corporeality. In Albert’s later writings, beginning with De anima, the “division” of the soul is more strongly emphasized. One model that accurately illustrates the human being is the metaphor of the sailor and the boat (the nauta and navis from Plato’s laws). According to Albert, for the soul to be the act of the body means that the soul performs living operations (opera vitae); the soul is “the body’s motor”. The soul animates and “governs” the body (which Albert explains in terms of the instrumental nature of the body as it was emphasized by Avicenna). In light of the definition of the soul as a “dynamic whole” (“totum potestativum”), the soul alone is the basic subject of all living operations. Some of these operations are performed with the help of the bodily organs (sensory and vegetative operations), while others (spiritual operations) are performed without the participation of the body. The soul has its own structure of being: it is composed of “quo est” and “quod est” and therefore is “hoc aliquid” (a complete substance). In his philosophical writings, Albert uses other terms (the actual and potential principle, the light from the first cause—the subject that receives and limits the light).

The active and potential intellects are components of the soul’s structure. The active intellect (intellectus agens) flows out from the soul’s “quo est” (or from its actual element), and the potential intellect is based in the soul’s “quod est” (or in the structural potential principle). Both intellects, as “parts” of the saoul, are an endowment of being for each individual soul and they constitute the soul’s “essential parts” (partes essentiales). Besides this ontological justification of the theory of two intellects, we find in Albert’s writings a justification based on an analysis of the process of intellectual knowledge. This analysis is based on Aristotle’s genetic empiricism. Intellectual knowledge consists in the potential intellect grasping a cognitive form that the active intellect abstracts from mental images. This is the form of the whole. It becomes the universale post rem by being divided from “matter”, i.e., from individualizing conditions (in De anima we read of the abstraction of the “common nature”). The active intellect also acts directly upon the potential intellect by “illuminating” and actualizing it. In connection with this, the potential intellect is called (in De anima), the “place of intelligibles”. When it has received a cognitive form, the potential intellect becomes the “speculative” intellect (Albert borrows this from Averroes’ corresponding concept of “the intellect in act”). Beginning in De anima, Albert diverges widely on the degree of actualization in the intellect and follows Arab thinkers when he introduces a degree of complete actualization of the intellect, when the intellect becaomes the “intellectus adeptus”, the “acquired” intellect. While the intellect in ontological terms is a “part of the soul”, as a faculty of knowledge it is not individual (otherwise knowledge would not have universal value; in this instance Albert is influenced by Averroes’ argments). At the stage of “intellectus adeptus”, the active intellect becomes the form of the potential intellect, and then it is “acquired.” The collaboration of the senses is no longer needed. The intellect has become capable of knowing itself and spiritual beings, and is opened to the light of the intelligences and first causes. It becomes the “intellectus assimilativus.”. This is the state of highest happiness for the soul. Albert calls the intellectus adeptus “the root of immortality” (also in his Summa de mirabili scientia Dei). Like an angle or an intelligence, the soul is joined with the cosmic order and opened to illumination. It needs to use the collaboration of the sense only before attaining the state of adeptio intellectus. The idea that the human intellect is illuminated by a higher light was always present in Albert’s thought. Already in his Commentary on the “Sentences” (from his period in Paris), he speaks of the fortification of the active intellect by its being connected with the Divine Intellect (“as the light of a star with the light of the sun”). The De anima is crowned with a text of neo-Platonic character—De intellectu et intelligibili, just as the Metaphysics was crowned with the Liber de causis (Albert connects both of these texts in their origin with “a certain letter of Aristotle about the beginning of all being”). All Albert’s arguments on the soul are connected by the thought that the soul is created according to the likeness of God (the philosophical works). The Augustinian motifs are interwoven here with neo-Platonic motifs. Some think (including Gilson) that Albert’s conception of the soul is derived from the idea that the image of God is impressed upon man’s soul.

DOCTRINE CONCERNING NATURE. Albert was the most outstanding investigator of nature over a period of several centuries. His works on nature take in a wide range of topics—anatomy, physiology, medicine, zoology and embryology, botany, mineralogy, and applied knowledge of nature, such as agronomy. He understood the science of animate nature as a subdivision of the philosophy of nature, and therefore he resorts to his philosophical conceptual apparatus, including his conception of the soul, but in a wide range of questions he calls upon empirical investigations (experimentum) and uses a descriptive method. Aristotle’s zoological works and the work De plantis ascribed to him serve as Albert’s foundation, but Albert also draws widely upon later works (especially upon Galen, and he also cites Avicenna’s Canon of medicine in the field of botany). Albert made many corrections and simplified complex passages in others, although he also made mistakes because he did not have the proper tools for research.. His contribution is chiefly in the particular material acquired by his own observation, but also in his approach and methodological reflections. His description of the world of plants and animals remains of interest today. He often uses the ordinary popular names for plants and animals, and he presents abundant synonyms for various species. His attempts to systematize the plant and animal kingdoms are interesting. His systematization is based on the literature he had available, and it is based on the prevalent but often misleading categories. Albert includes man in the world of animals with respect to his body, as the most perfect animal (animal perfectissimum). He connected his lecture concerning the formation of the human fetus with the conception of the human soul, which is created by the first cause and is not drawn out of mater by any collection of principles operating in nature, as is the case with the vegetative or sensible soul. The foundation of man’s perfection as a being is his soul, for he is often not equal to beasts in the efficiency of his senses (man does not need to use the senses to the same degree as beasts, since by his soul he rises above the material world). Albert’s knowledge of the human body, its construction and functions, is noteworthy, e.g., his knowledge of the human brain and its connection with man’s psychic life (the localization of the exterior senses). Albert the Great was interested in the connection between a man’s physical features and his abilities and inclinations, but he did not believe in determinism. In order to see the full image of man in Albert’s thought, we should consider besides his conception of the soul what he says as a natural scientist about man’s physical nature.

Albert thought that nature was a worthy object of investigation and knowledge on its own terms. In his research he postulated the necessity of experience (experimentum). Some writers emphasize that Albert’s works in natural science marked an important stage in the development of natural science, and he is regarded as the most outstanding investigator of nature from Aristotle up to modern times.

A. Schneider, Die psychologie Alberts des Grossen nach den Quellen dargestellet, “Beiträge”, 4, Mr 1903–1906, 5–6; H. Balss, Albert Magnus als Zoologe, Mn 1928; M. H. Laurent, M. J. Congar, Essai de bibliographie albertinienne, RT 36 (1931), 422–468; G. Meersseman, Introductio in opera omnia B. Alberti Magni, Bruges 1931; M. Grabmann, Der heilige Albert der Grosse. Ein wissenschaftliches Charakterbild, Mn 1931; H. C. Scheeben, Albertus Magnus, Bo 1931, K 19552; U. Dähnert, Die Erkenntnislehre des Alberts Magnus gemessen an den Stufen der “abstractio”, L 1934; A. M. Ethier, Les parts potentielles de l’intellect chez S. Albert le Grand, Études et Recherches Philosophie 2 (1938), 63–83; É. Gilson, L’âme raisonnable chez Albert le Grand, AHDLMA 14 (1943–1945), 5–72; M. Grabmann, Albertus Magnus, Theologe, Philosoph und Naturforscher, PJ 61 (1951), 473–480; Studia Albertina. Festschrift für Berhnard Geyer zum 70. Geburtstag, Mr 1952; M. Feigl, Albert der Grosse und die arabische Philosophie. Eine Studie zu den Quellen seines Kommentars zum “Liber de causis”, PJ 63 (1955), 131–150; L. Ducharme, “Esse” chez Saint Albert le Grand, Revista da Universidade Católica de Sao Paulo 21 (1961), 36–88; R. Kaiser, Zur Frage der eigenen Anschauung Alberts des Grossen in seinen philosophischen Kommentaren, FZPhTh 9 (1952), 53–62; A. Paszewski, Albert z Lauingen jako botanik [Albert of Lauingen as a botanist], Wwa 1962; B. Geyer, Albertus Magnus und die Entwicklung der scholastischen Metaphysik, in: Die Metaphysik im Mittelalter, B 1963, 3–13; F. Van Steenberghen, La philosophie au XIIIe siécle, Lv 1966, 19912, 245–275; G. Wieland, Untersuchungen zum Seinsbegriff im Metaphysikkommentar Alberts des Grossen, Mr 1972; L. Hoedl, Albert der Grosse und die Wende der lateinischen Philosophie im 13. Jahrhunderte, in: Virtus politica. Festgabe Alfons Hufnagel zum 75. Geburtstag, St 1974; I. Craemer-Ruegenberg, Albertus Magnus, Mn 1980; Albertus Magnus—Doctor Universalis (1280–1980), Mz 1980; J. Schöpfer, in: Albertus Magnus—Doctor Universalis, Mz 1980, 495—514; Albertus Magnus. Sein Leben und seine Bedeutung, Gr 1982; B. Thomassen, Metaphysik als Lebensform: Untersuchungen zur Grundlegung der Metaphysik im Metaphysikkommentar Alberts des Grossen, Mr 1985; C. Wagner, Alberts Naturphilosophie im Licht der neueren Forschung (1979-1983), FZPhTh 32 (1985), 65–104; M. Lohrum, Albert der Grosse, Forscher—Lehrer—Anwalt des Friedens, Mz 1991; K. Kloskowski, Święty Albert Wielki z Lauingen jako przyrodnik i myśliciel [Saint Albert the Great of Lauingen as a naturalist and thinker], Universitas Gedenensis 9 (1993), 25–39; A. Symowiecki, Substancja i forma—u podstaw albertyńskiej filozofii człowieka [Substance and form—at the foundations of the Albertist philosophy of man], ibid. 9 (1993), 9–24; Albert Magnus und der Albertismus: Deutsche philosophische Kultur des Mittelalters, Lei 1995; J. A. Aertsen, Albertus Magnus und die mittelalterliche Philosophie, Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie 21 (1996), 111–128; M. Kurdziałek, Średniowiecze w poszukiwaniu równowagi między arystotelizm a platonizmem [The Middle Ages in search of balance between Aristotelianism and Platonism], Lb 1996; H. Anzulewicz, Die Aristotelische Biologie in den Frühwerken des Albertus Magnus, in: Aristotle’s Animals in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Lv 1999; idem, De forma resultante in speculo. Die theologische Relevanz des Bildbegriffs und des Spiegelbildsmodells in den Frühwerken des Albertus Magnus, I–II, Mr 1999; idem, Neuere Forschung zu Albertus Magnus. Bestandaufnahme und Problemstellungen, RTAM 66 (1999), 163–206; L. Honnefelder, M. Dreyer, Albertus Magnus und die Editio Coloniensis, Mr 1999; G. Wieland, Zwischen Natur und Vernunft. Alberts des Grossen Begriff vom Menschen, Mr 1999; H. Anzulewicz, Die Denkstruktur des Albertus Magnus. Ihre Dekodierung und ihre Relevanz für die Begrifflichkiet und Terminologie, in: L’élaboration du vocabulaire philosophique au Moyen Âge, Turnhout, Brepols 2000, 269–396.

Antoni Skwara

SOURCE : https://web.archive.org/web/20180323134645/http://peenef2.republika.pl/angielski/hasla/a/albertthegreat.html

Bronzefigur Unterlinden nähe Rotteckring in Erinnerung an das ehemalige Predigerkloster, zerstört 27. November 1944.

Bronze sculpture of Albertus Magnus on an external wall of a building in Unterlinden, a square in the Altstadt (Old City) of Freiburg im BreisgauBaden-Württemberg, Germany. It commemorates the destruction of a former Predigerkloster ("preaching cloister" – probably a reference to a Dominican monastery) on 27 November 1944.

Bronzefigur Unterlinden nähe Rotteckring in Erinnerung an das ehemalige Predigerkloster, zerstört 27. November 1944.

Bronze sculpture of Albertus Magnus on an external wall of a building in Unterlinden, a square in the Altstadt (Old City) of Freiburg im BreisgauBaden-Württemberg, Germany. It commemorates the destruction of a former Predigerkloster ("preaching cloister" – probably a reference to a Dominican monastery) on 27 November 1944.


Saint Albertus Magnus

Born

about 1200
Lauingen an der Donau, Swabia (now Germany)

Died

15 November 1280
Cologne, Prussia (now Germany)

Summary

Albert (or Albertus Magnus) was a German Dominican who wrote a commentary on Euclid's Elements. He was made a Saint in 1931 and, in 1941, was made patron of natural scientist

Biography

Albert (or Albertus) was born into the wealthy Bavarian family of the Count of Bollstädt, being the eldest son in the family. He was later given the name "Magnus" (The Great) and also "Doctor Universalis" to indicate the esteem that he was held in by his contemporaries. He spent his early years in Lauingen and must have been educated at home or at a school close to his home. His uncle lived in Padua so, since the university there was famous for liberal arts, it was a natural place for his studies. After studying liberal arts at the University of Padua he joined the Dominican Order at Padua in 1223 being attracted by the teachings of Jordan of Saxony who was the head of the Order. This meant that he was not tied to a parish or a monastery, so could study and teach over a wide area.

After joining the Dominican Order, he studied and taught at Padua, Bologna, Cologne and other German convents in Hildesheim, Freiburg, Ratisbon, Strasbourg, and Cologne. He was sent to the Dominican convent of Saint-Jacques at the University of Paris in about 1241 where he read the new translations, with commentaries, of the Arabic and Greek texts of Aristotle. This was a period when the writings of Arabic scholars, and through them the texts of ancient Greek philosophers, was becoming known throughout Christian Europe and it was having to come to terms with this new knowledge. Albertus would play a major role in accepting this new learning into Europe with his wide ranging scholarship over essentially the whole of knowledge.

He taught for four years at Saint-Jacques, giving courses on the Bible and on the theological textbook The Book of the Sentences which had been written by Peter Lombard. In 1245 he received the degree of Master of Theology from the University of Paris and, after receiving this degree, one of the first students he taught was Thomas Aquinas. While in Paris Albertus began the task of presenting the entire body of knowledge, natural science, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, ethics, economics, politics and metaphysics. He wrote commentaries on the Bible, Peter Lombard's Book of the Sentences, and all of Aristotle's works. These commentaries contained his own observations and experiments. By 'experiment' Albertus meant 'observing, describing and classifying'. For example, in De Mineralibus 
 Albertus wrote:-

The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature.

We should not underestimate the importance of such ideas, for most scholars at that time believed that knowledge could only be obtained from a study of the scriptures. In the 13th century few were prepared to even consider the possibility of scientific research, and most considered that knowledge all came from God through ancient divinely inspired writings. Not only did Albertus advocate what we would call today the scientific approach to studying the real world, but he did so in such a way that his ideas were accepted by the Church. Again in a work on plants Albertus wrote:-

In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power: we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.

These quotes show that, although he did an immense amount of valuable work in collecting and propagating the ideas of earlier scientists in his numerous and wide ranging writings, he also saw the value of new research by experiment. Not everyone held Albertus in high esteem, however. Bacon, who was a contemporary, and in many ways a rival of Albertus, was highly critical (although one can sense that he is attacking someone whom he considers to have undeservedly achieved more than he has). Bacon writes that Albertus:-

... is a man of infinite patience and has amassed great information, but his works have four faults. The first is boundless, puerile vanity; the second in ineffable falsity; the third is superfluity of bulk; and the fourth is his ignorance of the most useful and the most beautiful parts of philosophy.

One has to understand that Bacon was himself an even stronger advocate of experimental science than was Albertus but, although himself a devote Christian, unlike Albertus he overstepped what the Church might accept. Bacon was also correct to see errors in Albertus's writings for Bacon had a deeper understanding of science than had Albertus.

In 1248 Albertus left Paris to set up the new Studium Generale which was essentially a Dominican university in Cologne. He was Regent of the Studium Generale from the time that he set it up until 1254 and during this time he lectured, wrote important works, and worked closely with his student Thomas Aquinas who was appointed Master of Students (at least until 1252 when Aquinas returned to Paris). In 1254 Albertus became superior of the Dominican province of Teutonia (Germany). He now had a heavy administrative load but still found time to continue his scientific work. However, wishing to spend still more time on scientific work, he resigned from his role of Provincial in 1257 and returned to Cologne.

In 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon despite the efforts of Humbert de Romanis, the Head of the Dominican Order, to keep Magnus within the Order. After two years he resigned as bishop and returned to his position as professor at the Studium Generale in Cologne. In 1274 Pope Gregory X required Albertus to attend the Second Council of Lyon. At this Roman Catholic Council Albertus took a full part in discussing questions of doctrine, administration, discipline, and other matters. Thomas Aquinas died in 1274 (actually on his way to the Council in Lyon) and three years later certain factions within the Church tried to condemn his teachings on the grounds that he was too favourably disposed to non-Christian philosophers, both Arabic and Greek. By this time Albertus was an old man, but he travelled to Paris to argue in favour of Thomas Aquinas, whose ideas of course, although not identical to his own, were similar in their support for the teachings of Aristotle.

We should note, however, that Albertus did not treat Aristotle's writings as absolutely and necessarily correct. He stated:-

Whoever believes that Aristotle was a god, must also believe that he never erred. But if one believes that Aristotle was a man, then doubtless he was liable to error just as we are.

In Summa theologiae he argues for reconciling the teachings of Aristotle with Christian thinking, but nevertheless, devotes a chapter to what he calls "the errors of Aristotle".

What of Albertus's contributions to mathematics? In [6] Anthony Lo Bello gives:-

... an English translation, with mathematical and philosophical notes, of three sections of the commentary by Albertus Magnus on Euclid's Elements : (1) the prologue, (2) the question "Is an angle a quantity?" and (3) Book I, Proposition 11.

In [7] J E Hofmann examines a manuscript in the Dominikaner-Bibliothek Vienna which contains a treatment of the books I to IV of Euclid's Elements in Latin by Albertus. The text shows that Albertus was familiar with the Latin translations from Arabic of Euclid's Elements by Boethius and Adelard of Bath. Since Albertus has clearly not read the translation by Campanus then, given the range of Albertus's scholarship, one can reasonably assume that Albertus wrote his commentary on Euclid before that of Campanus.

In Super Dionysii epistulas 
 Albertus considers the motion of the "Sphere of Stars" with the aim of determining whether the eclipse at the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was natural or miraculous. His methods of tracing back the positions of the sun and moon is interesting. The methods used by Albertus are examined in detail in [9].

Among his other works is De natura locorum (on the nature of places) which is a work on geography in which Albertus presents data on locations and features and emphasises the importance of geography in understanding the world.

Although Albertus was able to argue convincingly for Thomas Aquinas in 1277, by the following year his memory was beginning to fail him. Over the next three years he rapidly declined both mentally and physically

Albertus was made a Saint and declared a Holy Doctor of the Church on 16 December 1931 and his feast day is 15 November in each year. In 1941 Albertus was made patron of natural scientists by Pope Pius XII.

SOURCE : https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Albertus/

Bleiglasfenster (Ausschnitt) in der katholischen Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt in Üxheim, Darstellung: Albertus Magnus


Sant' Alberto Magno Vescovo e dottore della Chiesa

15 novembre - Memoria Facoltativa

Lauingen (Baviera), 1206 circa - Colonia, 15 novembre 1280

Nacque in Germania verso il 1200. Molto giovane venne in Italia per studiare le arti a Padova e forse anche a Bologna e Venezia. Durante il soggiorno nella penisola conobbe i domenicani, dai quali fu inviato a Colonia per la formazione religiosa e per lo studio della teologia. Approdò infine a Parigi dove tenne la cattedra di teologia per tre anni, durante i quali ebbe un allievo d’eccezione:Tommaso d’Aquino. Rimandato dai superiori a Colonia per fondarvi lo studio teologico, portò con sé Tommaso con il quale avviò un progetto molto ambizioso: il commento dell’opera di Dionigi l’Areopagita e degli scritti filosofico­naturali di Aristotele. Alberto vedeva il punto d’incontro di questi due autori nella dottrina dell’anima. Posta da Dio nell’oscurità dell’essere umano (Dionigi), secondo Aristotele l’anima si esprime nella conoscenza e negli aspetti pratici dell’esistenza umana.In questo agire complesso e meraviglioso, essa svela la sua origine divina. Alberto dava così avvio all’orientamento mistico nel suo ordine che sarà sviluppato da maestro Eckhart, mentre la ricerca filosofico-teologica verrà proseguita da san Tommaso. Grande studioso delle scienze naturali, Alberto non rifuggì dagli incarichi pastorali. Fu provinciale dell’ordine domenicano per il nord della Germania, per breve tempo vescovo di Ratisbona, partecipò al concilio di Lione. Il «dottore universale» morì nel 1280.

Patronato: Scienziati

Etimologia: Alberto = di illustre nobiltà, dal tedesco

Emblema: Bastone pastorale

Martirologio Romano: Sant’Alberto, detto Magno, vescovo e dottore della Chiesa, che, entrato nell’Ordine dei Predicatori, insegnò a Parigi con la parola e con gli scritti filosofia e teologia. Maestro di san Tommaso d’Aquino, riuscì ad unire in mirabile sintesi la sapienza dei santi con il sapere umano e la scienza della natura. Ricevette suo malgrado la sede di Ratisbona, dove si adoperò assiduamente per rafforzare la pace tra i popoli, ma dopo un anno preferì la povertà dell’Ordine a ogni onore e a Colonia in Germania si addormentò piamente nel Signore. 

Alberto, della nobile famiglia Bollstadt, prese ancora giovanissimo l’Abito dei Predicatori dalle mani del Beato Giordano di Sassonia, immediato successore del Santo Patriarca Domenico. Dopo aver trionfato nel mondo, al giovane studente sembrò ostacolo insormontabile le difficoltà che incontrava nello studio della Teologia, e fu tentato di fuggire dalla casa del Signore. La Madonna, però, di cui era devotissimo, lo animò a perseverare, rassenerandolo nei suoi timori, dicendogli: “Attendi allo studio della sapienza e affinché non ti avvenga di vacillare nella fede, sul declinare della vita ogni arte di sillogizzare ti sarà tolta”. Sotto la tutela della Celeste Madre, Alberto divenne sapiente in ogni ramo della cultura, sì da essere acclamato Dottore universale e meritare il titolo di Grande, ancor quando era in vita. Insegnò con sommo onore a Parigi e nei vari Studi Domenicani di Germania, soprattutto in quello di Colonia, da lui fondato, dove ebbe tra i suoi discepoli San Tommaso d’Aquino, di cui profetizzò la grandezza. Fu Provinciale di Germania e, nel 1260, Vescovo di Ratisbona, alla cui sede rinunziò per darsi di nuovo all’insegnamento e alla predicazione. Fu arbitro e messaggero di pace in mezzo ai popoli, e al Concilio di Lione portò il contributo della sua sapienza per l’unione della Chiesa Greca con quella Latina. Avanzato negli anni saliva ancora vigoroso la cattedra, ma un giorno, come Maria aveva predetto, la sua memoria si spense. Anelò allora solo al cielo, al quale volò dopo quattro anni, il 15 novembre 1280, consumato dalla divina carità. La sua salma riposa nella chiesa parrocchiale di Sant’Andrea a Colonia. Papa Gregorio XV nel 1622 lo ha beatificato. Papa Pio XI nel 1931 lo ha proclamato Santo e Dottore della Chiesa. Il 16 dicembre 1941 Papa Pio XII lo ha dichiarato Patrono dei cultori delle scienze naturali.

Autore: Franco Mariani

SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/29950

Heiligendarstellung auf Pergament. Ca. 15,5 x 20 cm. 18. Jahrhundert.


BENEDETTO XVI

UDIENZA GENERALE

Piazza San Pietro

Mercoledì, 24 marzo 2010  

Sant'Alberto Magno


Cari fratelli e sorelle,

uno dei più grandi maestri della teologia medioevale è sant’Alberto Magno. Il titolo di “grande” (magnus), con il quale egli è passato alla storia, indica la vastità e la profondità della sua dottrina, che egli associò alla santità della vita. Ma già i suoi contemporanei non esitavano ad attribuirgli titoli eccellenti; un suo discepolo, Ulrico di Strasburgo, lo definì “stupore e miracolo della nostra epoca”.

Nacque in Germania all’inizio del XIII secolo, e ancora molto giovane si recò in Italia, a Padova, sede di una delle più famose università del Medioevo. Si dedicò allo studio delle cosiddette “arti liberali”: grammatica, retorica, dialettica, aritmetica, geometria, astronomia e musica, cioè della cultura generale, manifestando quel tipico interesse per le scienze naturali, che sarebbe diventato ben presto il campo prediletto della sua specializzazione. Durante il soggiorno a Padova, frequentò la chiesa dei Domenicani, ai quali poi si unì con la professione dei voti religiosi. Le fonti agiografiche lasciano capire che Alberto maturò gradualmente questa decisione. Il rapporto intenso con Dio, l’esempio di santità dei Frati domenicani, l’ascolto dei sermoni del Beato Giordano di Sassonia, successore di san Domenico nella guida dell’Ordine dei Predicatori, furono i fattori decisivi che lo aiutarono a superare ogni dubbio, vincendo anche resistenze familiari. Spesso, negli anni della giovinezza, Dio ci parla e ci indica il progetto della nostra vita. Come per Alberto, anche per tutti noi la preghiera personale nutrita dalla Parola del Signore, la frequenza ai Sacramenti e la guida spirituale di uomini illuminati sono i mezzi per scoprire e seguire la voce di Dio. Ricevette l’abito religioso dal beato Giordano di Sassonia.

Dopo l’ordinazione sacerdotale, i Superiori lo destinarono all’insegnamento in vari centri di studi teologici annessi ai conventi dei Padri domenicani. Le brillanti qualità intellettuali gli permisero di perfezionare lo studio della teologia nell’università più celebre dell’epoca, quella di Parigi. Fin da allora sant’Alberto intraprese quella straordinaria attività di scrittore, che avrebbe poi proseguito per tutta la vita.

Gli furono assegnati compiti prestigiosi. Nel 1248 fu incaricato di aprire uno studio teologico a Colonia, uno dei capoluoghi più importanti della Germania, dove egli visse a più riprese, e che divenne la sua città di adozione. Da Parigi portò con sé a Colonia un allievo eccezionale, Tommaso d’Aquino. Basterebbe solo il merito di essere stato maestro di san Tommaso, per nutrire profonda ammirazione verso sant’Alberto. Tra questi due grandi teologi si instaurò un rapporto di reciproca stima e amicizia, attitudini umane che aiutano molto lo sviluppo della scienza. Nel 1254 Alberto fu eletto Provinciale della “Provincia Teutoniae” – teutonica - dei Padri domenicani, che comprendeva comunità diffuse in un vasto territorio del Centro e del Nord-Europa. Egli si distinse per lo zelo con cui esercitò tale ministero, visitando le comunità e richiamando costantemente i confratelli alla fedeltà, agli insegnamenti e agli esempi di san Domenico.

Le sue doti non sfuggirono al Papa di quell’epoca, Alessandro IV, che volle Alberto per un certo tempo accanto a sé ad Anagni - dove i Papi si recavano di frequente - a Roma stessa e a Viterbo, per avvalersi della sua consulenza teologica. Lo stesso Sommo Pontefice lo nominò Vescovo di Ratisbona, una grande e famosa diocesi, che si trovava, però, in un momento difficile. Dal 1260 al 1262 Alberto svolse questo ministero con infaticabile dedizione, riuscendo a portare pace e concordia nella città, a riorganizzare parrocchie e conventi, e a dare nuovo impulso alle attività caritative.

Negli anni 1263-1264 Alberto predicava in Germania ed in Boemia, incaricato dal Papa Urbano IV, per ritornare poi a Colonia e riprendere la sua missione di docente, di studioso e di scrittore. Essendo un uomo di preghiera, di scienza e di carità, godeva di grande autorevolezza nei suoi interventi, in varie vicende della Chiesa e della società del tempo: fu soprattutto uomo di riconciliazione e di pace a Colonia, dove l’Arcivescovo era entrato in duro contrasto con le istituzioni cittadine; si prodigò durante lo svolgimento del II Concilio di Lione, nel 1274, convocato dal Papa Gregorio X per favorire l’unione con i Greci, dopo la separazione del grande scisma d’Oriente del 1054; egli chiarì il pensiero di Tommaso d’Aquino, che era stato oggetto di obiezioni e persino di condanne del tutto ingiustificate.

Morì nella cella del suo convento della Santa Croce a Colonia nel 1280, e ben presto fu venerato dai confratelli. La Chiesa lo propose al culto dei fedeli con la beatificazione, nel 1622, e con la canonizzazione, nel 1931, quando il Papa Pio XI lo proclamò Dottore della Chiesa. Si trattava di un riconoscimento indubbiamente appropriato a questo grande uomo di Dio e insigne studioso non solo delle verità della fede, ma di moltissimi altri settori del sapere; infatti, dando uno sguardo ai titoli delle numerosissime opere, ci si rende conto che la sua cultura ha qualcosa di prodigioso, e che i suoi interessi enciclopedici lo portarono a occuparsi non solamente di filosofia e di teologia, come altri contemporanei, ma anche di ogni altra disciplina allora conosciuta, dalla fisica alla chimica, dall’astronomia alla mineralogia, dalla botanica alla zoologia. Per questo motivo il Papa Pio XII lo nominò patrono dei cultori delle scienze naturali ed è chiamato anche “Doctor universalis” proprio per la vastità dei suoi interessi e del suo sapere.

Certamente, i metodi scientifici adoperati da sant’Alberto Magno non sono quelli che si sarebbero affermati nei secoli successivi. Il suo metodo consisteva semplicemente nell’osservazione, nella descrizione e nella classificazione dei fenomeni studiati, ma così ha aperto la porta per i lavori futuri.

Egli ha ancora molto da insegnare a noi. Soprattutto, sant’Alberto mostra che tra fede e scienza non vi è opposizione, nonostante alcuni episodi di incomprensione che si sono registrati nella storia. Un uomo di fede e di preghiera, quale fu sant’Alberto Magno, può coltivare serenamente lo studio delle scienze naturali e progredire nella conoscenza del micro e del macrocosmo, scoprendo le leggi proprie della materia, poiché tutto questo concorre ad alimentare la sete e l’amore di Dio. La Bibbia ci parla della creazione come del primo linguaggio attraverso il quale Dio – che è somma intelligenza – ci rivela qualcosa di sé. Il libro della Sapienza, per esempio, afferma che i fenomeni della natura, dotati di grandezza e bellezza, sono come le opere di un artista, attraverso le quali, per analogia, noi possiamo conoscere l’Autore del creato (cfr Sap. 13,5). Con una similitudine classica nel Medioevo e nel Rinascimento si può paragonare il mondo naturale a un libro scritto da Dio, che noi leggiamo in base ai diversi approcci delle scienze (cfr Discorso ai partecipanti alla Plenaria della Pontificia Accademia delle Scienze, 31 Ottobre 2008). Quanti scienziati, infatti, sulla scia di sant’Alberto Magno, hanno portato avanti le loro ricerche ispirati da stupore e gratitudine di fronte al mondo che, ai loro occhi di studiosi e di credenti, appariva e appare come l’opera buona di un Creatore sapiente e amorevole! Lo studio scientifico si trasforma allora in un inno di lode. Lo aveva ben compreso un grande astrofisico dei nostri tempi, di cui è stata introdotta la causa di beatificazione, Enrico Medi, il quale scrisse: “Oh, voi misteriose galassie ..., io vi vedo, vi calcolo, vi intendo, vi studio e vi scopro, vi penetro e vi raccolgo. Da voi io prendo la luce e ne faccio scienza, prendo il moto e ne fo sapienza, prendo lo sfavillio dei colori e ne fo poesia; io prendo voi stelle nelle mie mani, e tremando nell’unità dell’essere mio vi alzo al di sopra di voi stesse, e in preghiera vi porgo al Creatore, che solo per mezzo mio voi stelle potete adorare” (Le opere. Inno alla creazione).

Sant’Alberto Magno ci ricorda che tra scienza e fede c’è amicizia, e che gli uomini di scienza possono percorrere, attraverso la loro vocazione allo studio della natura, un autentico e affascinante percorso di santità.

La sua straordinaria apertura di mente si rivela anche in un’operazione culturale che egli intraprese con successo, cioè nell’accoglienza e nella valorizzazione del pensiero di Aristotele. Ai tempi di sant’Alberto, infatti, si stava diffondendo la conoscenza di numerose opere di questo grande filosofo greco vissuto nel quarto secolo prima di Cristo, soprattutto nell’ambito dell’etica e della metafisica. Esse dimostravano la forza della ragione, spiegavano con lucidità e chiarezza il senso e la struttura della realtà, la sua intelligibilità, il valore e il fine delle azioni umane. Sant’Alberto Magno ha aperto la porta per la recezione completa della filosofia di Aristotele nella filosofia e teologia medioevale, una recezione elaborata poi in modo definitivo da S. Tommaso. Questa recezione di una filosofia, diciamo, pagana pre-cristiana fu un’autentica rivoluzione culturale per quel tempo. Eppure, molti pensatori cristiani temevano la filosofia di Aristotele, la filosofia non cristiana, soprattutto perché essa, presentata dai suoi commentatori arabi, era stata interpretata in modo da apparire, almeno in alcuni punti, come del tutto inconciliabile con la fede cristiana. Si poneva cioè un dilemma: fede e ragione sono in contrasto tra loro o no?

Sta qui uno dei grandi meriti di sant’Alberto: con rigore scientifico studiò le opere di Aristotele, convinto che tutto ciò che è realmente razionale è compatibile con la fede rivelata nelle Sacre Scritture. In altre parole, sant’Alberto Magno, ha così contribuito alla formazione di una filosofia autonoma, distinta dalla teologia e unita con essa solo dall’unità della verità. Così è nata nel XIII secolo una chiara distinzione tra questi due saperi, filosofia e teologia, che, in dialogo tra di loro, cooperano armoniosamente alla scoperta dell’autentica vocazione dell’uomo, assetato di verità e di beatitudine: ed è soprattutto la teologia, definita da sant’Alberto “scienza affettiva”, quella che indica all’uomo la sua chiamata alla gioia eterna, una gioia che sgorga dalla piena adesione alla verità.

Sant’Alberto Magno fu capace di comunicare questi concetti in modo semplice e comprensibile. Autentico figlio di san Domenico, predicava volentieri al popolo di Dio, che rimaneva conquistato dalla sua parola e dall’esempio della sua vita.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, preghiamo il Signore perché non vengano mai a mancare nella santa Chiesa teologi dotti, pii e sapienti come sant’Alberto Magno e aiuti ciascuno di noi a fare propria la “formula della santità” che egli seguì nella sua vita: “Volere tutto ciò che io voglio per la gloria di Dio, come Dio vuole per la sua gloria tutto ciò che Egli vuole”, conformarsi cioè sempre alla volontà di Dio per volere e fare tutto solo e sempre per la Sua gloria.

Saluti:

C’est avec joie que j’accueille ce matin les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les jeunes venus de France et le groupe du diocèse de Vannes. à tous je souhaite de vivre une fervente Semaine Sainte afin de découvrir toujours plus la profondeur de l’amour de Dieu pour les hommes. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors, especially a group of priests, Religious and seminarians visiting from the Philippines. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and your families, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

Von Herzen heiße ich alle deutschsprachigen Gäste willkommen, heute besonders die Schulgemeinschaft aus Essen-Werden. Suchen wir wie der heilige Albert der Große Gott in seinem Wort, in der Schönheit der Natur und in der Liebe zu begegnen. Der Herr segne euch auf allen Wegen!

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular al Cardenal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa y al Presidente de laConferencia Episcopal de Chile, Mons. Alejandro Goić Karmelić, con la Delegación venida para recibir una imagen de la Virgen del Carmen, que bendeciré como signo de afecto a los hijos de ese País, que celebra su bicentenario, y los acompañará en estos momentos de dificultad tras el reciente terremoto sufrido. Saludo también a los grupos venidos de España, México y otros países latinoamericanos. Muchas gracias.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, a minha cordial saudação no Senhor Jesus! Como penhor da graça salvadora que Ele nos mereceu com a sua Cruz, desça sobre vós e vossas famílias a minha Bênção. Vivei em paz e encorajai-vos mutuamente no caminho da santidade. E o Deus do amor e da paz estará convosco!

Saluto in lingua polacca:

Drodzy bracia i siostry. Jutro przypada uroczystość Zwiastowania Pańskiego. W Polsce jest ona obchodzona również jako Dzień Świętości Życia. Tajemnica Wcielenia odsłania szczególną wartość i godność ludzkiego życia. Bóg dał nam ten dar i uświęcił, gdy Syn stał się człowiekiem i narodził się z Maryi. Trzeba strzec tego daru od poczęcia aż do naturalnej śmierci. Z całego serca jednoczę się z tymi, którzy podejmują różne inicjatywy na rzecz poszanowania życia i budzenia nowej społecznej wrażliwości. Niech wam Bóg błogosławi.

Traduzione italiana:

Cari fratelli e sorelle. Domani ricorre la solennità dell’Annunciazione del Signore. In Polonia essa è celebrata anche come Giornata della Sacralità della Vita. Il mistero dell’Incarnazione svela il particolare valore e la dignità della vita umana. Dio ci ha dato questo dono e lo ha santificato, quando il Figlio si è fatto uomo ed è nato da Maria. Bisogna salvaguardare questo dono dal concepimento fino alla morte naturale. Con tutto il cuore mi unisco a coloro che intraprendono diverse iniziative a favore del rispetto per la vita e per la promozione della nuova sensibilità sociale. Dio vi benedica!

Saluto in lingua ungherese:

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar híveket, különösen is a kolozsvári csoport tagjait. Hálásan köszönöm imáitokat. A nagyböjt kedvező időszak arra, hogy átalakítsuk életünket. Otthonaitokban és közösségeitekben legyen meg a kiengesztelődés és a kölcsönös jóakarat. Erre adom áldásomat.
Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Traduzione italiana:

Un saluto cordiale rivolgo ai fedeli di lingua ungherese, specialmente ai membri del gruppo di Cluj-Napoca. Vi sono grato per le vostre preghiere. La Quaresima è il tempo opportuno per trasformare la nostra vita. Nelle vostre famiglie e nelle vostre comunità regni sempre lo spirito di riconciliazione e di reciproca benevolenza. Dio vi benedica. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in lingua croata:

S velikom radošću pozdravljam sve hrvatske hodočasnike, a na poseban način policajce iz Splita, liječnike i osoblje dječje bolnice iz Zagreba te nastavnike i gimnazijalce iz Mostara. Dok iščekujemo Kristov ulazak u Jeruzalem i njegovo predanje u volju Očevu, prepoznajmo koliko nas je ljubio te, slijedeći njegov primjer ljubimo svoju braću. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Traduzione italiana:

Con grande gioia saluto tutti i pellegrini Croati, e in modo particolare i poliziotti di Split, i medici ed il personale dell’Ospedale per i fanciulli di Zagreb ed i docenti e studenti del Ginnasio di Mostar. Nell’attesa di rivivere l’entrata di Cristo a Gerusalemme ed il suo abbandono alla volontà del Padre, prendiamo coscienza di quanto egli ci ha amato e, a nostra volta, amiamo i nostri fratelli. Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i diversi gruppi di religiose qui presenti, assicurando la mia preghiera per loro e per i rispettivi Istituti, affinché sappiano annunciare con rinnovata gioia Gesù Cristo, Salvatore del mondo. Saluto i sacerdoti, i diaconi e i seminaristi del Movimento dei Focolari, ed auspico di cuore che questa visita rinsaldi in ciascuno la fedeltà al Vangelo e l'amore alla Chiesa.

Saluto infine i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. La Solennità dell'Annunciazione, che domani celebreremo, sia per tutti un invito a seguire l'esempio di Maria Santissima: per voi, cari giovani, si traduca in pronta disponibilità alla chiamata del Padre, perché possiate essere fermento evangelico nella società; per voi, cari ammalati, sia sprone a rinnovare l'accettazione serena e confidente della volontà divina e a trasformare la vostra sofferenza in mezzo di redenzione dell'intera umanità; il sì di Maria susciti in voi, cari sposi novelli, un sempre più generoso impegno nel costruire una famiglia fondata sul reciproco amore e sui perenni valori cristiani.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

SOURCE : http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/it/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100324.html


Painting of St. Albertus Magnus, from the parish of the same name, in Guayaquil (Ecuador).


Albèrto Magno, santo

Enciclopedia on line

Albèrto Magno (A. di Bollstadt, A. de Lauging [Lauingen], A. di Colonia, A. Teutonicus), santo/">santo. - Filosofo e teologo, detto doctor Universalis (Lauingen, Svevia, forse 1193 o 1200 o 1206 - Colonia 1280). Maestro di Tommaso d'Aquino, si impegnò a far conoscere la filosofia aristotelica con parafrasi e commenti degli scritti del filosofo. Grande fu il suo interesse per le scienze e per le esperienze di ordine fisico, ove è da notare l'attenzione posta all'osservazione del particolare. Pose una netta separazione tra filosofia aristotelica e teologia, nella consapevolezza che nella considerazione fisica della natura non si possono far intervenire principi miracolosi.

VITANato, secondo recenti studi, da una famiglia di militari (e non dai conti di Bollstädt), studiò a Padova, e vi divenne domenicano (1223); dal 1228 insegnò successivamente a Colonia, Hildesheim, Friburgo, RatisbonaStrasburgo e, probabilmente, dal 1245, a Parigi, ove divenne magister e dottore: ivi forse, e certo poi a Colonia ove andò nel 1248 a dirigere il nuovo Studium generale dell'ordine, ebbe scolaro Tommaso d'Aquino. Provinciale di Germania (1254-57), difese davanti alla curia papale in Anagni gli ordini mendicanti contro Guglielmo di S. Amore (1256); vescovo di Ratisbona, rinunciò (1260-61); fu predicatore della crociata in Germania (1263-64); si stabilì a Würzburg, quindi a Strasburgo (1267-70) e a Colonia; partecipò al concilio di Lione (1274); è dubbio che nel 1277 sia tornato a Parigi. Fu dichiarato santo e dottore della chiesa da Pio XI (16 dic. 1931), patrono dei cultori delle scienze naturali da Pio XII (16 dic. 1941); festa, 15 novembre.

OPERELa produzione letteraria di A. è abbondantissima (21 voll. nell'ediz. Jammy, Lione 1651, 38 nell'ediz. Borgnet, Parigi 1890-99, entrambe imperfette; è in corso dal 1951, a cura dell'Istituto Alberto Magno di Colonia, una nuova edizione di tutte le opere) e comprende scritti di "filosofia razionale" o logica, "reale" (fisica, matematica, metafisica) e "morale", e di teologia (esegesi biblica, teologia sistematica, parenetica). Molti sono commenti a opere di Aristotele, ma anche di Boezio e all'Isagoge di Porfirio, o a libri dell'Antico Testamento e ai Vangeli, agli scritti mistici dello pseudo-Dionigi Areopagita; numerosi i sermoni. Dell'autenticità di alcuni scritti attribuitigli si discute; qualche opera di lui è ancora inedita (tra cui di notevole importanza il commento allo pseudo-Dionigi).

A. è consapevole della grande importanza culturale di tutto il complesso di opere greche e arabe tradotte in latino nel giro di circa un secolo e ormai, alla metà del Duecento, diffuse e discusse negli ambienti scolastici; di qui il suo programma di "rendere intelligibile ai latini" la filosofia peripatetica, attraverso libere parafrasi delle opere di Aristotele, in cui faceva rifluire disordinatamente notizie e motivi accolti da altri autori greci e arabi. Preponderante influenza esercitarono sulla sua interpretazione dell'aristotelismo gli scritti platoneggianti di Avicenna e degli altri commentatori, e in particolare il Liber de causis che, attribuito ad Aristotele e considerato come l'ultimo dei suoi libri metafisici, dava una impronta e una prospettiva platonica a tutto il sistema peripatetico. Chiarissima è l'influenza platonica nel suo De causis et processu universitatis, in cui combinando motivi avicennistici e neoplatonici (accolti anche attraverso lo pseudo-Dionigi), prospetta una "processione" del molteplice dall'uno (Dio intellectus universaliter agens), secondo un processo degradante (che ricalca i temi della metafisica della luce) di "intelligenze" e di "cause", fino all'anima e alla natura materiale. Ma non è facile distinguere nell'opera "filosofica" di A. quello che è il suo pensiero e quanto invece è semplice "esposizione" del pensiero dei "peripatetici" (in cui indifferentemente classifica anche autori platoneggianti), tanto più che egli continuamente sottolinea la sua intenzione di "recitare" e spiegare la loro filosofia, nulla aggiungendo di proprio. Comunque la sua complessiva esposizione della filosofia peripatetica - con la forte accentuazione dei temi platonici - eserciterà grande influenza, soprattutto sulla scuola di Colonia (v. oltre). Notevole è la netta separazione ch'egli pone tra filosofia peripatetica e teologia, nella consapevolezza che "i principî fisici non si accordano con i principî teologici", e che nella considerazione fisica della natura non si possono far intervenire principî miracolosi: di qui la sua polemica contro il concordismo di filosofia peripatetica e teologia perseguito da certi "dottori latini" (tra i quali possiamo scorgere anche Tommaso d'Aquino), e la sua accettazione di certe tipiche dottrine averroistiche, accolte in sede di esegesi aristotelica (una tarda notizia indica Sigieri di Brabante come discepolo di A.).

L'interesse di A. per la filosofia naturale si manifesta nei suoi numerosi trattati scientifici (tra cui De animalibus, De vegetalibus, De mineralibus), ove è notevole il gusto per l'osservazione diretta della natura che si unisce sempre al carattere dossografico-erudito.

Scuola albertina di Colonia. Sotto questa denominazione la storiografia indica il gruppo di seguaci di Alberto Magno formatisi alla sua scuola; in particolare nel sec. 13° si ricordano Ugo Ripelin di Strasburgo, Ulrico di Strasburgo e Teodorico di Vriberg (con il discepolo Bertoldo di Moosburg). Caratteristica di questa scuola è il prevalere di motivi neoplatonici (metafisica della luce, dottrina dell'illuminazione come fondamento dell'intendere, ecc.), anche nell'interpretazione di Aristotele; quindi la larga utilizzazione così degli scritti di Proclo come di quelli dei platonici arabi, in particolare di Avicenna; significativo anche l'interesse per problemi di carattere scientifico (Teodorico di Vriberg).

Accademia e Società Alberto Magno. L'Albertus Magnus Akademie fu fondata dal card. Schulte a Colonia (1922), come Istituto cattolico di filosofia; l'Albertus Magnus Verein a Treviri (1899), per assistere gli studenti cattolici.

SOURCE : https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/santo-alberto-magno

Statua di sant'Alberto, chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine, Rovereto (Trentino)


ALBERTO Magno

di Giuseppe Saitta - Enciclopedia Italiana (1929)

ALBERTO Magno. - Alberto di Bollstädt, che i suoi contemporanei chiamavano Alberto di Colonia, nacque, secondo alcuni, nel 1193, secondo altri, nel 1206 o 1207. Entrò nell'ordine domenicano nel 1223. Dal 1228 al 1245 insegnò successivamente a Colonia, Hildesheim, Friburgo, Ratisbona, Strasburgo, Parigi, e poi di nuovo a Colonia, dove ebbe come scolaro Tomaso d'Aquino. Dal 1254 al 1257 tenne l'ufficio di provinciale, e dal 1260 al 1262 l'altro di vescovo di Ratisbona, che lo distrassero dagli studî. Dopo il 1262 si ritirò, rinunziando alle cariche, a Colonia, dove riprese il suo insegnamento. Nel 1277 si recò a Parigi per difendere le dottrine del suo grande discepolo Tomaso d'Aquino, condannate dal vescovo di Parigi, Stefano Templare (Étienne Templier, o di Senlis). Morì a Colonia il 15 novembre 1280.

L'influenza esercitata da Alberto Magno sulla filosofia fu straordinaria. La vasta e profonda dottrina di lui era riconosciuta perfino da Ruggero Bacone, che per il suo indirizzo di pensiero gli era ostile. Anzi, contrariamente alla regola che vigeva nel Medioevo, egli, benché vivente, era citato per nome negli scritti scientifici.

Il programma filosofico che Alberto prefisse a sé stesso fu questo: rifare Aristotele ad uso dei Latini (Nostra intentio est omnes dictas partes - physicam, metaphysicam et mathematicam - facere Latinin intelligibiles, Phys. l. I, tract. I, c. 1). Per rendere intelligibile Aristotele, egli, come ha giustamente osservato il Mandonnet, si serve di tutti i materiali d'Aristotele e dei suoi commentatori; e riesce a fare una parafrasi ampia e minuta della dottrina dello Stagirita. Ma la stessa immensa erudizione che Alberto aveva saputo acquistare appesantiva e affievoliva il suo spirito critico, in guisa da farlo cadere in gravi errori. Conoscitore degli scrittori giudaici e arabi, A. mescola spesso senza coscienza storica le loro dottrine con quelle aristoteliche, agostiniane e anche neoplatoniche. Si direbbe che nell'intento di volgarizzare Aristotele egli non avesse altra mira che quella di preparare tutti i materiali per una riscossa aristotelica; epperò, mentre da un lato cerca a suo modo di liberare il pensiero aristotelico dalle dottrine dei commentatori ebrei ed arabi, e segnatamente da quelle di Avicebronio e di Averroè, dall'altro lato lo ha trasformato in senso scolastico; e così appare come un complesso di dottrine improntate ad Aristotele, ma in cui spesso inavvertiti entrano forti residui neoplatonici, agostiniani e arabi. Perciò Alberto, sebbene abbia saputo creare ai suoi tempi una nuova e poderosa direzione filosofica destinata a trionfare nel seno della scolastica, pure è apparso un filosofo non originale. Ma senza di lui non sarebbe stata possibile l'opera filosofica e teologica di Tomaso d'Aquino il quale, in fondo, non fece altro che chiarire, scegliere e ordinare, soltanto in parte, il materiale che il suo maestro aveva preparato. Difatti le tesi tomistiche sono facilmente riconoscibili in quelle albertine. come p. es. la conoscenza umana fondata sulla esperienza sensibile e la conseguente impossibilità della prova ontologica dell'esistenza di Dio; l'indimostrabilità della creazione del mondo nel tempo, l'individualità dell'intelletto agente, la distinzione netta del creatore e della creatura, l'unità dell'anima, ecc. Ma, benché la filosofia di Alberto dia l'impressione d'un che d'incomposto e d'indifferenziato, dove talvolta alcune tesi contraddicono ad altre, pure è da parlare d'una originalità di esse, la quale non consiste nella delineazione di dottrine determinate, bensì nell'atteggiamento nuovo che condusse ad una direzione rigorosamente speculativa. Il fatto che lo stesso ordine domenicano, a cui Alberto apparteneva, combatté l'indirizzo peripatetico come un avversario formidabile della teologia, è assai significativo. Contro questi suoi confratelli Alberto, che aveva coscienza d'iniziare un movimento razionalistico, diceva: "Vi sono degl'ignoranti che vogliono combattere con tutti i mezzi l'uso della filosofia, e specialmente presso i Predicatori, dove nessuno resiste loro; animali bruti che bestemmiano ciò che ignorano (tamquam bruta animalia blasphemantes in iis quae ignorant)". Il razionalismo, che in alcuni scolastici minacciava di compromettere lo stesso contenuto teologico, in Alberto assume una fisionomia caratteristica, la quale è data da una separazione netta fra la filosofia e la teologia. Questa separazione importava l'autonomia della filosofia, la quale aveva l'ufficio di dimostrare ciò che è dimostrabile, servendosi unicamente della ragione. Onde non può stupire che il pensiero aristotelico sia apparso ad Alberto come l'espressione della ragione naturale, e in quanto tale da rivendicare. Sono di lui queste parole a proposito del contrasto fra filosofi e teologi su alcune verità: "Quando essi sono in disaccordo, bisogna credere ad Agostino piuttosto che ai filosofi in ciò che concerne la fede e i costumi. Ma se si tratta di medicina, io crederei piuttosto ad Ippocrate o Galeno; e se si tratta di fisica, credo ad Aristotele, perché è lui che conosce ottimamente la natura". Ma l'autorità filosofica o scientifica in tanto ha valore in quanto essa è, senz'altro, razionalità (philosophi enim est, id quod dicit, dicere cum ratione). Il caldo amore e il senso vivo della potenza e insieme dei limiti della ragione lo avevano indotto a studiare le scienze della natura: la zoologia, la botanica, la geografia, l'astronomia, la mineralogia, l'alchimia, la medicina. Così egli non proclamò soltanto il valore della deduzione, ma anche dell'induzione (oportet experimentum non in uno modo, sed secundum omnes circumstantias probare). Di gran lunga superiore in questo a Tomaso d'Aquino, egli, dando valore all'empirismo aristotelico, intuisce chiaramente che nel particolare il sillogismo è infecondo, perché experimentum solum certificat in talibus. Sicché in Alberto Magno s'incontrano, mantenendosi però nettamente distinti, l'indirizzo razionalistico e quello empiristico.

Delle numerose opere di Alberto Magno segnaliamo solo le seguenti: De praedicabilibus, De praedicamentis, De sex principiis Gilberti Porretani, Super duos libros Aristotelis perihermenias e gli altri commenti alle opere aristoteliche (Analytica, Topica, Elenchi e alle varie parti della Fisica aristotelica), De coelo et mundo, De natura locorum, De proprietatibus elementorum, De generatione et corruptione, De meteoris, De mineralibus, De anima, De sensu et sensato, De memoria et reminiscentia, De intellectu et intelligibili, De somno et vigilia, De spiritu et respiratione, Metaphysica, Ethica, Politica, De unitate intellectus contra Averroem, Quindecim problemata contra Averroistas.

Scritti teologici: Summa theologiae, e Summa de creaturis, commenti ai libri dello pseudo Dionigi Aeropagita e alle Sententiae di Pier Lombardo. Ricordiamo ancora i commenti ai Vangeli, all'Apocalisse, libri dell'Antico Testamento, e i sermoni. Gli Opera Omnia furono pubblicati a Parigi (1890-1899) in 38 voll. in edizione non critica ed incompleta. La paternità albertina dei 32 sermoni sull'eucaristia, oggetto di controversie tra protestanti e cattolici, è contestata dal Mandonnet.

Bibl.: Sighart, Albertus Magnus, Ratisbona 1857; G. von Hettling, Albertus Magnus, Festschrift, Bonn 1880; Van Weddingen, A. le Grand maître de Thomas d'Aquin, Bruxelles 1881; P. Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et l'averroïsme latin, 2ª ed., Lovanio 1911, I, cap. 1 e 2; id., in Diction. de Théologie catholique, 3ª ed., I, Parigi 1923, s. v.; M. De Wulf, Histoire de la philosophie médiévale, Lovanio-Parigi 1912; Gilson, La philosophie au Moyen Âge, Parigi 1922; F. Pelster, Kritische Studien z. Leben u. z. Schriften Alberts d. Grossen, Friburgo in B. 1920.

SOURCE : https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/alberto-magno_(Enciclopedia-Italiana)/

Hildesheim, ehem. Dominikanerkirche St. Paulus, vermauertes Westportal mit dem Bischofssiegel des hl. Albertus Magnus


Alberto Magno

Dizionario di filosofia (2009)

Alberto Magno (A. di Bollstädt, A. de Lauging [Lauingen], A. di Colonia, A. Teutonicus) Filosofo e teologo (Lauingen, Svevia, forse 1193 o 1200 o 1206- Colonia 1280), detto Doctor universalis, santo.

Vita e opere. Nato da una famiglia di militari (e non dai conti di Bollstädt, come sostenuto in passato), studiò a Padova, e vi divenne domenicano (1223); dal 1228 insegnò successivamente a Colonia, Hildesheim, Friburgo, Ratisbona, Strasburgo e, probabilmente, dal 1245, a Parigi, dove divenne magister e dottore: lì forse, e certo poi a Colonia, dove andò nel 1248 a dirigere il nuovo Studium generale dell’ordine, ebbe scolaro Tommaso d’Aquino. Provinciale di Germania (1254-57), difese davanti alla curia papale in Anagni gli ordini mendicanti contro Guglielmo di S. Amore (1256); vescovo di Ratisbona (1260), rinunciò nel 1261; fu predicatore della crociata in Germania (1263-64); si stabilì quindi a Würzburg, e poi a Strasburgo (1267-70) e a Colonia; partecipò al concilio di Lione (1274); è dubbio che nel 1277 sia tornato a Parigi. La produzione letteraria di A. è ricchissima (è tuttora in corso un’edizione di tutte le opere a cura dell’Istituto Alberto Magno di Colonia, iniziata nel 1951) e comprende scritti di ‘filosofia razionale’ o logica, ‘reale’ (fisica, matematica, metafisica) e ‘morale’, e di teologia (esegesi biblica, teologia sistematica, parenetica). Molti sono commenti a opere di Aristotele, ma anche di Boezio e all’Isagoge di Porfirio, o a libri dell’Antico Testamento e ai Vangeli, agli scritti mistici dello pseudo-Dionigi Areopagita; numerosi i sermoni. Dell’autenticità di alcuni scritti attribuitigli si discute; qualche opera di lui è ancora inedita.

Il confronto con la filosofia peripatetica. A. era consapevole della grande importanza culturale di tutto il complesso di opere greche e arabe tradotte in latino nel giro di circa un secolo e ormai, alla metà del Duecento, diffuse e discusse negli ambienti scolastici; di qui il suo programma di «rendere intelligibile ai latini» la filosofia peripatetica, attraverso libere parafrasi delle opere di Aristotele, in cui faceva rifluire disordinatamente notizie e motivi accolti da altri autori greci e arabi. Preponderante influenza esercitarono sulla sua interpretazione dell’aristotelismo gli scritti platoneggianti di Avicenna e degli altri commentatori, e in particolare il Liber de causis, che, attribuito ad Aristotele e considerato come l’ultimo dei suoi libri metafisici, dava una impronta e una prospettiva platonica a tutto il sistema peripatetico. Chiarissima è l’influenza platonica nel suo De causis et processu universitatis, in cui, combinando motivi avicennistici e neoplatonici (accolti anche attraverso lo pseudo-Dionigi), prospetta una «processione» del molteplice dall’uno (Dio intellectus universaliter agens), secondo un processo degradante (che ricalca i temi della metafisica della luce) di «intelligenze» e di «cause», fino all’anima e alla natura materiale. Ma non è facile distinguere nell’opera ‘filosofica’ di A. quello che è il suo pensiero e quanto invece è semplice ‘esposizione’ del pensiero dei «peripatetici» (in cui indifferentemente classifica anche autori platoneggianti), tanto più che egli continuamente sottolinea la sua intenzione di «recitare» e spiegare la loro filosofia, nulla aggiungendo di proprio. Comunque la sua complessiva esposizione della filosofia peripatetica – con la forte accentuazione dei temi platonici – eserciterà grande influenza, soprattutto sulla scuola di Colonia. Notevole è la netta separazione ch’egli pone tra filosofia peripatetica e teologia, nella consapevolezza che «i principi fisici non si accordano con i principi teologici», e che nella considerazione fisica della natura non si possono far intervenire principi miracolosi: di qui la sua polemica contro il concordismo di filosofia peripatetica e teologia perseguito da certi «dottori latini» (tra i quali possiamo scorgere anche Tommaso d’Aquino), e la sua accettazione di certe tipiche dottrine averroistiche, accolte in sede di esegesi aristotelica (una tarda notizia indica Sigieri di Brabante come discepolo di A.). Un forte interesse A. manifestò anche per la filosofia naturale, come dimostrano i suoi numerosi trattati scientifici (tra cui De animalibus, De vegetalibus, De mineralibus), nei quali risulta notevole il gusto per l’osservazione diretta della natura, che si unisce sempre al carattere dossografico-erudito.

Biografia

Alberto Magno

1193 ca. Nasce a Lauingen, in Svevia

1223 Entra a Padova nell’ordine domenicano

1228-1245 Insegna a Colonia, Hildesheim, Friburgo, Ratisbona, Strasburgo e forse Parigi

1248 Viene chiamato a dirigere lo Studium di Colonia, dove ha come scolaro Tommaso d’Aquino

1261 Rinuncia alla carica di vescovo di Ratisbona ottenuta l’anno precedente

1267-70 Si stabilisce a Strasburgo e poi a Colonia

1274 Partecipa al concilio di Lione

1280 Muore a Colonia

SOURCE : https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/alberto-magno_(Dizionario-di-filosofia)/

Klosterkirche Maria Medingen, Statuen (um 1750): Albertus Magnus


Albertus Magnus

deutscher Beiname: der Große

auch: von Regensburg, de Lauing (von Lauingen), Theutonicus (der Deutsche), Coloniensis (von Köln)

 Gedenktag katholisch: 15. November

nicht gebotener Gedenktag

Regionalkalender für das deutsche Sprachgebiet

Fest im Erzbistum Köln, im Bistum Regensburg und im Dominikanerorden

gebotener Gedenktag im Bistum Augsburg

 Gedenktag III. Klasse

nicht gebotener Gedenktag in Österreich (Diözesen Eisenstadt, Feldkirch, Graz-Seckau, Gurk-Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg, St. Pölten, Wien): 16. November

 Gedenktag evangelisch: 15. November

 Name bedeutet: durch Adel glänzend (althochdt.)

Bischof von Regensburg, Ordensmann, Kirchenlehrer

* 1193 oder um 1206 in Lauingen an der Donau in Bayern

† 15. November 1280 in Köln in Nordrhein-Westfalen

aus: Paulus Jovius: Vitae illustrium virorum, Basel 1577 

Albertus stammte aus einer Ministerialenfamilie, sein Vater übte wohl die Herrschaftsrechte der Staufer in Lauingen 1 aus. 1222/1223 lebte er bei einem Onkel in Venedig und studierte an der damals neuen, renommierten Universität im Palazzo Bo in Padua.

Nachdem er den neuen Generalminister des DominikanerordensJordan von Sachsen kennen gelernt hatte, trat er 1223 in den noch jungen Orden ein und studierte weiter in der am Kölner Dom angesiedelten Schule. 1243 bis 1244 lehrte er an der theologischen Fakultät in Paris, wo auch Thomas von Aquin sein Schüler war, und wo er 1245 zum Magister der Theologie promoviert wurde. 1248 wurde Albertus als erster Leiter des Studium generale nach Köln geschickt, wo er eine Ordensuniversität gründete, aus der sich später die Kölner Universität entwickelte. Er förderte den Plan zum Bau des Kölner Domes und richtete Ausbildungsstätten am Dominikanerkloster in Straßburg - an der Stelle des heutigen Temple Neuf - sowie am Kloster in Freiburg im Breisgau und in Hildesheim ein.

Albertus wurde 1254 im damaligen Kloster - an der Stelle der heutigen Hauptpost - in Worms zum Provinzial der Dominikanerprovinz Teutonia gewählt. Er bereiste in diesem Amt den Westen Europas, oft zu Fuß, wanderte von Kloster zu Kloster und sorgte für die Einhaltung der strengen Regeln. 1256 verteidigte er gegenüber der Kurie des Papstes in Anagni das Konzept der Bettelorden gegen die Angriffe v. a. aus der Pariser Universität; dort griff er in einer öffentlichen Disputation auch den Averroismus 2 an, woraus seine Schrift De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas, Über die Einheit des Verstandes, gegen die Averroisten wuchs, die dann Thomas von Aquin rezipierte.

Im Gehorsam gegenüber dem Willen von Papst Alexander IV. und gegen den des Ordensgenerals übernahm Albertus 1260 das herunter gewirtschaftete Bistum Regensburg. Er war zwei Jahre Bischof von Regensburg und warb dann im Auftrag von Papst Urban IV. 1263/64 in Böhmen und Deutschland mit Predigten für den 7. Kreuzzug. 1264 bis 1266 lehrte er in Würzburg 3, danach in Straßburg, bevor ihm der Papst um 1269 die Rückkehr in die Ruhe des Klosters bei St. Andreas in Köln erlaubte. 1271 vermittelt er hier wieder zwischen dem Erzbischof und der Stadt; insgesamt sind über zwanzig Schiedsverfahren und Friedensschlüsse durch Alberts Vermittlungen bezeugt. Unsicher ist die Überlieferung, nach der er 1277 die Lehren des Thomas von Aquin an der Pariser Universität verteidigte.

Albertus war einer der ganz großen theologischen Lehrer des Mittelalters, deshalb auch Doctor expertus, erfahrener Lehrer und Doctor venerabilis, verehrungswürdiger Lehrer genannt. Und er war einer der ersten großen mittelalterlichen Naturwissenschaftler in den Fächern Medizin, Biologie, Chemie, Physik, Astronomie und Geografie, daher sein Ehrenname Doctor universalis. Aber auch der Verdacht der Zauberei wurde deshalb gegen ihn erhoben. Seine Wiederentdeckung der Naturwissenschaften ergab sich aus der Einführung der aristotelischen Philosophie in die mittelalterliche Scholastik, bei der Albertus zur Schlüsselfigur wurde. In den scholastischen Kreisen des frühen 13. Jahrhunderts waren die Werke von Aristoteles weithin abgelehnt worden, die Kenntnisse der kirchlich geschulten Scholastiker beschränkten sich auf Aristoteles' Logik, wie sie in der Tradition von Augustinus und den Neuplatonikern ausgelegt wurde.

Albertus beschäftigte sich eingehend mit den Schriften von Aristoteles, unterzog sie einer gründlichen Untersuchung, kommentierte sie und widersprach ihnen gelegentlich aufgrund eigener sorgfältiger Beobachtungen. Seine Gelehrsamkeit umfasste auch arabisches und jüdisches Gedankengut. Er verfasste grundlegend neue Werke und war zu seiner Zeit mit der Autorität des Aristoteles zu vergleichen. In seiner Summa Theologiae, seiner umfassenden Darstellung der Theologie, erschienen um 1270, versuchte er aristotelisches Gedankengut mit den christlichen Lehren zu vereinen. Menschliches Denken könne die Offenbarung nicht widerlegen, gleichzeitig sei aber auch das Recht des Philosophen zu verteidigen, die göttlichen Mysterien zu erforschen. Das Werk blieb unvollendet, es wurde sicher zur Inspiration für das gleichnamige Monumentalwerk von Albertus' Schüler Thomas.

Albertus blieb zeitlebens ein frommer Beter und ein demütiger und bescheidener Mensch. Auch als Bischof von Regensburg behielt er die Fußbekleidung eines Bauern bei und bekam deshalb auch den Kosenamen Bischof Bundschuh.

Albertus' Reliquien ruhen in der Kölner St.-Andreas-Kirche, seine Hirnschale in der Pfarrkirche St. Martin seiner Geburtsstadt Lauingen. Dort wurde er schon bald nach seinem Tod in einer ihm geweihten Kapelle bei seinem Geburtshaus verehrt, die 1604 abgerissen und nach dem 30-jährigen Krieg durch einen Betsaal ersetzt wurde. Seit 1631 feierte man jedes Jahr seinen Festtag, 1932 wurde ihm ein Denkmal auf dem Rathausplatz aufgestellt, das Gymnasium ist nach ihm benannt. Am 700. Todestag 1980 besuchte Papst Johannes Paul II. das Grab in Köln.

In Padua ist Albertus die moderne Kirche Sant'Alberto Magno geweiht.

 Kanonisation: Albertus wurde 1622 von Papst Gregor XV. selig- und am 16. Dezember 1931 von Papst Pius XI. heiliggesprochen, gleichzeitig wurde ihm der Titel eines Kirchenlehrers verliehen. 1941 erklärte ihn Papst Pius XII. zum Patron aller Naturwissenschaftler.
 Patron von 
Lauingen und Bollstadt; der Theologen, Philosophen, Naturwissenschaftler, Medizintechniker, Studenten und Bergleute

1  Dass Albertus in Lauingen und nicht, wie verschiedentlich behauptet, in Bollstadt - heute Ortsteil von Amerdingen bei Nördlingen - geboren wurde, hat Adolf Layer aufgewiesen, auch wenn dort die Hauptstraße des Ortes nach Albertus benannt ist. (Adolf Layer: Albert von Bollstadt oder Albert von Launingen? In: Historischer Verein Dillingen a. d. Donau: Albert von Lauingen … Festschrift 1980, 2. erw. Aufl. Lauingen 1980)

2  Die dem arabischen Philosophen Averroes zugeschriebene Lehre von der Einheit und Einzigkeit des Intellekts besagt, dass der Intellekt – sowohl der tätige als auch der aufnehmende, passive – nur ein einziger und somit in allen Menschen derselbe ist, weil sein Gegenstand, die Naturgesetze und die Logik, immer und überall gleich ist. Dem tätigen Intellekt wiesen die Averroisten eine Schlüsselrolle in der Weltordnung zu; manche identifizierten ihn sogar mit Gott.

3  Das ehemalige Kloster der Dominikaner in Würzburg ist seit 1813 das Kloster der Augustiner.

Worte des Heiligen

(Natur-) Wissenschaft und Offenbarung schließen sich nicht gegenseitig aus:

Kein Wissen, auch nicht das naturwissenschaftliche, ist, richtig verstanden, zu verwerfen. Dem, der die Naturwissenschaft von Grund aus recht versteht, sind die Worte des Herrn kein Anlass zum Zweifel. Weltliche Weisheit und Klugheit sind gut, wenn sie gut verwendet werden. Ob das Streben nach Wissen sittlich gut oder schlecht ist, hängt vom Beweggrund ab, der uns bei diesem leitet. Aus Ruhmsucht oder um reich zu werden, Wissenschaft zu treiben, ist verwerflich, gut dagegen ist es, nach Wissen zu streben, um gut zu werden und sich zu erbauen; denn das ist Klugheit, gut auch, dies zu tun, um andere zu erbauen; denn das ist Liebe. Wissen zu wollen, damit du wissest, ist eine ernste Beschäftigung und kein eitles Beginnen.

In bewusst provokanten Formulierungen macht Albert in seiner Albert-Tafel auf das wesentlich Christliche aufmerksam:

Es gibt zwölf gute Stücke:

Das erste ist: Wer einen Pfennig in der Liebe unseres Herrn in diesem Leben gibt: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger und dem Menschen nützlicher, als wenn seine Nachkommen nach seinem Tode so viel Gold und Silber austeilten, um Dome zu bauen, die von dieser Erde bis zum Himmel reichten.

Das andere ist: Wer ein hartes Wort geduldig erträgt, Lieb und Leid in rechter Demut von Gottes Hand empfängt und beides als Gottes Gabe erkennt: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn er auf seinem Rücken alle Tage einen Wagen voll Birkenreiser zerschlüge.

Das dritte ist, dass du dich vor Gott demütigst unter alle Geschöpfe: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du von einem Ende der Welt bis an das andere gingst und deine Fußstapfen von Blut gerötet wären.

Das vierte ist, dass du Gott mit seiner Gnade stete Reue bietest in deiner Seele: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du von einem Ende der Welt bis an das andere liefst.

Das fünfte ist, dass der Mensch einen Tropfen aus lauterer Liebe wegen des Leidens Christi weint: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn seine Nachkommen aus Schmerzen einen Bach so groß wie die Donau weinten.

Das sechste ist: Geh selber zu Gott! Das ist dir nützlicher, als wenn du alle Heiligen und alle Engel, die im Himmel sind, hinsenden würdest.

Das siebte ist: Verurteile oder verdamme niemanden! Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du sieben Stunden am Tag dein Blut vergössest.

Das achte ist, dass du mit Geduld entgegennimmst, was Gott über dich verhängt: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du wie St. Paulus bis in den dritten Himmel entrückt würdest.

Das neunte ist: Hab Mitleid mit deinen Mitmenschen! Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du so viele Kranken speisest, wie in einem ganzen Lande leben.

Das zehnte ist, dass, wenn du heilige Werke und andere reine Tugenden siehst und bei deinem Nächsten wahrnimmst, du dich freust in rechter Liebe: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du dich mit Gott im Himmel freutest.

Das elfte ist, dass du strebst, die Sünder von ihren Sünden zu bringen: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du mit Gott selber im Himmel säßest.

Das zwölfte ist, das du dich selber erkennst und dich selber zu Gott ziehst und bringst: Das ist Gott wohlgefälliger, als wenn du die ganze Welt zu den ewigen Gnaden brächtest, du selber aber ewiglich verdammt würdest.

Quelle: Rh. Liertz: Albert der Große - Gedanken über sein Leben und aus seinen Werken. Münster 1948, S. 253, 261; bearbeitet

Die Naturwissenschaften suchen nach Antworten auf Fragen, die die Welt betreffen, das Bittgebet ist der Weg, um Gott zu suchen:

Bittet, dann wird euch gegeben; sucht, dann werdet ihr finden; klopft an, dann wird euch geöffnet. (Matthäusevangelium 7, 7) … Hier ist zu beachten, dass einer jeden der drei Aufforderungen je eigens eine Entsprechung hinzugegeben wird, dem Bitten wird die Gewährung der Gabe zugesagt ..., dem Suchen das Finden, d. h., der Suchende kommt im Inneren weiter, indem er eine Erfahrung macht; denn das Suchen geschieht durch tugendhaftes Handeln, und dann kann es nicht anders sein, als dass er durch das Erfahren eines geistlichen Genusses es empfindet, wie geschmackvoll die Tugend ist; das sittlich-richtige Tun und das dadurch erreichte Gute geht ja von der lebenden und wahrnehmungsfähigen Seele aus. Denn ihr habt erfahren, wie gütig der Herr ist (1. Petrusbrief 2, 3). Kostet und seht, wie gütig der Herr ist (Psalm 34, 9). So gelangt der Suchende innerlich zu den Früchten des Geistes (Galaterbrief 5, 22 f), in dessen Kraft er im Guten voranschreitet. Dem Anklopfen wird als Entsprechung das Öffnen verheißen, d. h. der Zugang zur beständigen inneren Ruhe; denn das vollendete Glück ist der ganz friedvolle Zustand in der Vereinigung mit dem vollkommenen Gut, in dem jeder Wunsch erfüllt ist. Die Tür zu jenem Zustand ist die Entdeckung der Gegenwart [Gottes], die nicht angewiesen ist auf die Nachbildungen [Gottes] im Menschen als dem Ebenbild Gottes und in den anderen irdischen Geschöpfen als den Spuren Gottes. Das Schreiten durch diese Tür ist schließlich das Innewerden des höchsten Gutseins Gottes.

Quelle: Albertus Magnus: Ausgewählte Texte, hrsg. und übersetzt von A. Fries. = Texte zur Forschung, Bd. 35. Darmstadt 1981, S. 253

Zitate von Albertus Magnus:

Die Liebe besiegt alles. Darum lasst die Liebe über uns Herrscherin sein.

Durch Gebet und Frömmigkeit erreicht man in den göttlichen Wissenschaften mehr als durch Studium.

Im Rahmen seiner Vollkommenheit kann jeder Mensch glücklich werden; denn er will glücklich sein.

Du hast, o Gott, es so eingerichtet, dass jeder ungeordnete Geist sich selbst zur Strafe wird.

Der Mensch steht in der Mitte der Schöpfung, zwischen Stoff und Geist, zwischen Zeit und Ewigkeit.

Die schönsten Dinge auf dieser Welt in der Natur, die alles von Menschenhand Geschaffene in den Schatten stellen, kosten gottlob überhaupt kein Geld.

Alle Wissenschaften sind nur Wege zum Übersinnlichen.

Gott ist der höchste und oberste Künstler. Er steht zur geschaffenen Welt wie jeder menschliche Künstler zu seinem Werk.

Wir müssen Könige sein: Wir müssen das Reich, das uns anvertraut ist, derart verwalten, dass Gott sich herablässt, in uns Wohnung zu nehmen. Das Reich, das Er uns anvertraut hat, ist unsere Seele. Über unsere Seele müssen wir in Gerechtigkeit, Freude und Frieden im Hl. Geiste herrschen. Dann wird auch Christus in uns herrschen.

Du darfst niemanden so lieben, dass du ihm zuliebe die Wahrheit aufgäbest.

Wer sich mit göttlichen Dingen beschäftigt, wird nach ihrem Bilde umgestaltet.

Der Dienst an der Wahrheit ist Heiligkeit.

Ein starkmütiger Mann ist der, der nicht fürchtet, was nicht zu fürchten ist.

Die Unterscheidung ist die Lenkerin der Tugenden; sie muss die Demut wie die Liebe in den rechten Bahnen halten.

Quelle: Rh. Liertz: Albert der Große - Gedanken über sein Leben und aus seinen Werken. Münster 1948, S. 262 - 264; bearbeitet

zusammengestellt von Abt em. Dr. Emmeram Kränkl OSB,

Benediktinerabtei Schäftlarn,
für die Katholische SonntagsZeitung

 Martyrologium Romanum Flori-Legium

 Catholic Encyclopedia

  Schriften von Albert und seine Gesammelten Werke gibt es online zu lesen in den Documenta Catholica Omnia.

  Die Katholische Pfarrgemeinde St. Albertus Magnus in Ottobrunn bietet schön zusammengestellte Informationen über ihren Patron.

Der Dom in Regensburg ist täglich ab 6.30 Uhr geöffnet, im Juni bis September bis 19 Uhr, im April, Mai und Oktober bis 18 Uhr, im Winter bis 17 Uhr. Der Domschatz ist täglich von 11 Uhr bis 17 Uhr, sonntags erst ab 12 Uhr geöffnet, der Eintritt beträgt 3 €. (2021)

[…]

Autor: Joachim Schäfer - zuletzt aktualisiert am 12.06.2021

Quellen:

• Vera Schauber, Hanns Michael Schindler: Heilige und Patrone im Jahreslauf. Pattloch, München, 2001
• Hiltgard L. Keller: Reclams Lexikon der Heiligen und der biblischen Gestalten. Reclam, Ditzingen 1984
• Erhard Gorys: Lexikon der Heiligen. dtv, München, 1997
• C. S., Brief vom 22. Juni 2008
• http://www.augsburger-allgemeine.de/Home/Nachrichten/Startseite/Artikel,-Eine-lila-Tafel-fuer-den-heiligen-Albertus-_arid,1638239_regid,2_puid,2_pageid,4288.html
• Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, begr. von Michael Buchberger. Hrsg. von Walter Kasper, 3., völlig neu bearb. Aufl., Bd. 1. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993

korrekt zitieren: Joachim Schäfer: Artikel Albertus Magnus, aus dem Ökumenischen Heiligenlexikon - https://www.heiligenlexikon.de/BiographienA/Albertus_Magnus.htm, abgerufen am 15. 11. 2021

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet das Ökumenische Heiligenlexikon in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet über http://d-nb.info/1175439177 und http://d-nb.info/969828497 abrufbar.

SOURCE : https://www.heiligenlexikon.de/BiographienA/Albertus_Magnus.htm

Albertus Magnus. Rottweil, Predigerkirche, Statue


Voir aussi http://agora.qc.ca/dossiers/Saint_Albert_le_Grand

http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j230sd_AlbertusMagnus_11-15.html

https://www.arlima.net/ad/albert_le_grand.html