St. Thomas Aquinas is widely known and hailed as one of the most brilliant theologians of the Church, writing the Summa Theologica, a work that sought to encompass the whole of Theology (the Study of God).
Do you ever wonder who taught St. Thomas?
Who formed him and helped him to achieve such wisdom and knowledge?
We don't hear about him nearly as much as we should, but it is the saint we celebrate today -- his teacher was St. Albert the Great! St. Albert, even to his contemporaries was known as the GREAT because of his brilliance!
The media often portrays the Church as an enemy of science. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. It was men of the Church, intellectual worshippers God, who marveled at God's creation and sought to study its beauty and magnificence! He saw no discrepancy between the study of science and the study of God.
"In this, we should follow the example of St. Albert the Great, who saw in everything that he studied the God who made it and to whom it is ultimately ordered. Surely, as Pope Leo XIII remarked, “Truth cannot contradict truth”; hence, let us join the “teacher of everything” by allowing everything we study to lead us to the contemplation of God, the Supreme Truth."
For all his intellectual greatness, it was his heart for God that made him one of the greatest of saints. So great, in fact, that the Church has named him as one of only 35 Doctors of the Church. Being named a Doctor of the Church is a recognition of the saint's teaching was so extraordinary that it was meant for "any age of the Church."
Albert was born around the year 1200. He pursued his studies at the University of Padua and entered the Dominicans in 1223. He taught in many universities and was eventually sent to the University of Paris, to earn his doctorate in 1245 with Thomas Aquinas. In 1248, they both returned to Cologne to House of Studies for the Dominican order, where Albert was named Regent and Thomas was named second professor and Master of Students. In 1254, Albert was elected Provincial of the Dominican Order in Germany. In 1256, he traveled to Rome to defend the Order against attacks and while there was named the Pope's theologian and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Epistles. He resigned as Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and teaching. During his long life, he continued to teach, would become Bishop, help form the direction of studies for the Dominicans, sent letters to aid St. Thomas in his fight against heretics, and took an active part in the Council of Lyon with Pope Gregory X (1274). It was on the way to the Council that he heard that St. Thomas had died. It:
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.