Albertus Magnus, Saint

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Albertus Magnus, Saint

Saint Albertus Magnus (ălbûr´təs măg´nəs), or Saint Albert the Great, b. 1193 or 1206, d. 1280, scholastic philosopher, Doctor of the Church, called the Universal Doctor. A nobleman of Bollstädt in Swabia, he joined (1223) the Dominicans and taught at Hildesheim, Freiburg, Regensburg, Strasbourg, and Cologne before the Univ. of Paris made him doctor of theology in 1245. Later he taught again at Cologne, and he was also briefly (1260–62) bishop of Regensburg. He was a thorough student of Aristotle, and he not only followed Robert Grosseteste in his approach to Aristotelian thought but also did much to introduce Aristotle's scientific treatises and scientific method to Europe. Like Roger Bacon, he had a scientific interest in nature. He made notable botanical observations (recorded in such works as De vegetabilibus), was the first to produce arsenic in a free form, and studied the combinations of metals. In philosophy he set out in his Summa theologiae to controvert Averroës and others and to reconcile the apparent contradictions of Aristotelianism and Christian thought. He wrote many treatises, and many more have been ascribed to him; the problem of determining which are genuinely of his authorship is difficult. He was a strong influence on his favorite pupil, St. Thomas Aquinas. Albertus was canonized in 1931. Feast: Nov. 15.

See D. H. Madden, A Chapter of Medieval History (1969); F. J. Kovach and R. W. Shahan, Albert the Great (1980).

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