ALBERTUS MAGNUS: DOCTOR UNIVERSALIS
1193 or 1206-1280
All aspects of life fascinated Albertus Magnus. His appetite for learning coupled with his extraordinary energy caused him to travel extensively to experience the excitement of new vistas and to deepen his own knowledge. Thomas of Cantimpré in his Bonum Universale de Apibus described Magnus as a man of "wholehearted devotion and piety" endowed with a need to "show superhuman attainments in science!" 5
Although fiction is readily available, the known facts about Albertus Magnus are scant. Nothing certain is known about his parents or his birth date, which is given as possibly 1193 or 1206. It is surmised that he was born of noble lineage ( von Bollstädt) at Lauingen in Swabia, between Ulm and Regensburg. Some biographers maintain that his early youth was spent at his father's castle in Bollstädt rather than attending a university, as was traditional for sons of the noble class, and the outdoor existence accounted for his enormous strength and energy. One of his biographers, Joachim Sighart, wrote that "the body of the youth acquired at that period in the exercise of a chivalrous life, an energy, suppleness, and strength which imparted to his mind in later life, and even till he was advanced in years, the vigorous impulse of a wonderful activity."6
Because no universities existed in Germany at that time, Albertus Magnus was sent to the University of Padua, founded in 1222 by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. It is said, he became a student of the arts despite his wisdom in medical subjects. As far as scholars have been able to ascertain, he received no degree. In 1223, Albertus entered the Dominican order. The friars trained in this preaching order usually returned to their native countries to work among those whose customs they knew best.