In praise of the Universal Doctor!
"Jordan went back in mind to a certain sixteen-year-old student at Padua, a lively and delicate lad, son of a great German family. He knew this youth's fancy to enter the Order, and how this was opposed by his uncle, who lived with him and made him promise not to listen to the Friars Preachers' sermons anymore. He could not forget his fervour, his assurance. Above all, at a glance [Jordan] had seen on this young man a precocious and assured scientific genius. Such an intelligence, in a soul already sanctified, would radiate a great light. By bringing him into the sound and vigorous Dominican way of life and learning, he would be saved from the current dissipation of mind, from the attraction of useless ambitions, he would be consecrated to truth. Jordan had no wish to make him abandon the sciences. On the contrary, he encouraged him to pursue those researches of which ignorant people were afraid, which frightened timid people; they alone could build a bridge between routine theology, too far removed from rational and experimental methods, and a liberal culture that was without restraint, dangerous to subtle imaginations and to consciences not balanced by a sufficiently strong faith. Albert of Lawingen would be a great man."In July 1233, Albert "triumphed over temptation and the artifices of the world, over his uncle and over his own hesitations" and entered the Order of Friars Preachers.
In his letter to Bl Diana, describing this event, Bl Jordan says: "Celebrate a feast, giving thanks to the giver of all good things, for the merciful and compassionate Lord has recently deigned to visit the land and saturate it more abundantly than we had hoped." To this day, the Church still rejoices in the memory of Albertus Magnus.
Two Office hymns - 'O clara lux Coloniae' and 'Noctis tenebras dissipans' - are offered in the Dominican Breviary for the Office of Readings and the major Offices, respectively, and I reproduce them here in translation:
"O brilliant light of proud Cologne,
Great teacher, Albert, widely known;
The tutor famed of Thomas, too,
Accept this tribute sung to you!
Of holiness a shining light,
Of highest truth a witness bright,
Of charity a burning flame;
The faithful this of you proclaim.
Teach all the faithful souls that they
Should spurn those things that pass away;
And raise the minds of all, with love,
To truest joys of heaven above.
Now, from your heavenly home, we plead,
Come help your brethren in their need;
And Peter's boat, we pray you, save
From raging seas and tempest's wave.
To you O Christ, the most kind King,
Be triumph always, let us sing;
To Father and to Spirit be
A song of praise eternally. Amen."
"Come, let the name of Albert, far resounding,
Sound through the wide world in our festive singing;
Saint and wise Teacher, aptly is he titled,
Great among mankind.
This great, resplendent, worthy son of Guzman,
Led an austere life, free from sinful blemish;
Clear was his teaching of God's word effective;
Able his preaching.
By the bright radiance of celestial teaching
Rightly he scattered from each soul deep darkness;
And, a good shepherd, led his flock to feed in
Fields of salvation.
Under the forms of bread and wine, here present,
Christ he exalted, loving and adoring;
Fervent in honour towards the Virgin Mary,
He was peace loving.
Christ, King of rulers, yours be might and honour,
Majesty, power, also to the Father;
And to the Spirit Counsellor, sound likewise
Glory forever. Amen."
The images above are of St Albert the Great, dressed as bishop of Ratisbon, as depicted in the La Naval Procession in Manila. Also the Latin inscription and tomb of St Albert the Great in the Dominican church of San Andreas in Cologne. Finally, the Shrine of St Albert taken on Procession at the World Youth Day 2005, on the right.