Albert the Great  c.a. 1200 - 15.11.1280

Part  I
His life and activities.


A brief biography.


Albert the Great, Albert der Grosse,  byname Albert of Köln, or of Lauingen, or Doctor universalis, was born ca 1200, in Lauingen an der Donau, Swabia, Germany, as the eldest son of a wealthy German lord. He went to the University of Padua, where he studied the liberal arts. He joined the Dominican order at Padua in 1223, continued his studies at Padua and Bologna and in Germany. Then he taught theology at several priories throughout Germany, lastly at Cologne.

Sometime before 1245 he was sent to the Dominican priory of Saint-Jacques at the University of Paris, where he came into contact with the works of Aristotle, newly translated from Greek and Arabic, and with the commentaries on Aristotle's works by the Spanish-Arabian philosopher Averroës.
He lectured on the Bible for two years and then for another two years on Peter Lombard's Sentences. In 1245 he was graduated master in the theological faculty and obtained the Dominican chair "for foreigners."

It was probably at Paris that Albert began to write his presentation of the entire body of knowledge of his time. Working  on this project, which took about 20 years to complete, he probably had among his disciples Thomas Aquinas, who arrived at Paris late in 1245. Albert' lectures and publications gained him great renown. Roger Bacon, a contemporary English scholar who was by no means friendly toward Albert, spoke of him as "the most noted of Christian scholars."

In the summer of 1248, Albert was sent to Köln to organize the first Dominican studium generale ("general house of studies") in Germany. He presided over the house until 1254. During this period his chief disciple was Thomas Aquinas, who returned to Paris in 1252. The two men maintained a close relationship even though doctrinal differences began to appear.
From 1254 to 1257 Albert was provincial of "Teutonia," the German province of the Dominicans.
In 1259 he was appointed by the pope to succeed the bishop of Regensburg, and he was installed as bishop in January 1260.
After Alexander IV died in 1261, Albert was able to resign his episcopal see.
He then returned to his order and to teaching at
Köln. From 1263 to 1264 he was legate of Pope Urban IV, preaching the crusade throughout Germany and Bohemia, and in 1270 he settled definitively at Köln.
In 1274 he attended the second Council of Lyon, France, and spoke in favour of acknowledging Rudolf of Habsburg as German king. In 1277 he travelled to Paris to uphold the recently condemned good name and writings of Thomas Aquinas


Albertus the Great died Nov.15, 1280, in Köln and was buried in the church of the Dominican priory in Köln. He was canonized Dec. 16, 1931. By papal decree in 1941, he was declared the patron saint of all who cultivate the natural sciences.




Albert the Great was born in Launingen an der Donau, Swabia, Germany ca 1200.

In Launingen his statue on the central square.


Germany 1937. Postal card.


In the church of All Saints in Lauingen Ursula Ruppin founded a chapel dedicated to Saint Albert in 15 November 1631. There is also a part of the skull of Saint Albert since Mai 1768.




On the wall of the 'Schimmelturm' (1457-1478, by Heinrich Schittenhelm), George Brentel (+ 1638 in Nordlingen) painted a portrait of Saint Albert in 1571 with a Latin hexameter by Nicholas Reussner.


Germany 1975. Postal card.






In 1243 Albert the Great was in Paris and acquired

the title of Magister of Theology.

He was a honoured adviser for king Louis IX, the Saint.


On this stamp Louis IX, the Saint (ca 1215-1270, as crusader holding audience for the poor.


France 1967, Mi 1606, Sc 1201.









From 1248 till 12 54 the Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was among Albert's audience.


Colombia 1982, Mi 1597, Sc 902.








The importance of Albertus was his attempt the philosophy of Aristoteles, Avicenna, Averroës and Maimonides to introduce in the Christian way of thinking.




Aristoteles (384-322, before Christ).

Fresco 'School of Athens' by Raphael.

Greece 1978, Mi 1317, Sc 1258.









Avicenna, Ibn Sina (980-1037).


Egypt 1968, Mi 360, Sc 741.








Averroës, Abu el Walid Ibn Rashid (1126 -10.12.1198)

Egypt 1978, Mi 776, Sc 1095.





Maimonides (1135-1204).


Antigua 1985, Mi 866, Sc 860.






The woodcarving of Albrecht  Dürer, The Philosophy (215 x 147 cm) shows the Egyptian philosophers, among others Plotinus; the Greek philosophers: a.o. Plato; the Latin: Cicero, Vergilius, and the German: Albertus Magnus.



   Germany 1993.Postmark   

   Heroldsberg 9.7.1993.









Albertus bishop of Regensburg
5 January 1260  - February 1262
preacher of the crusade
13 February 1263 - 2 October 1264


Albertus was appointed provincial of his Order in Worms, 1254.




He was appointed bishop of Regensburg on 5 January 1260.


Germany 1983. Postal card with postmark.








Seal of Albert the Great, bishop of Regensburg 1260 - 1261, with the text: + sigillum - fratris - alberti dei g(rati)a - ratisbonensis - episcopi.Preserved in the Episcopal Archives, Regensburg.

Albert the Great enthroned with mitre, book and crosier, oval 2,7 x 4,2 cm.


                                     Germany 1961, Mi 347, Sc 824. FDC

Description in Albertus Magnus. Ausstellung zum 700 Geburtstag. Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln 1981, S. 74 und S. 225, Abbildung Nr 8.




Because the position was involved with political items Albertus abdicated in February 1262. Then he was counsellor at the court of pope Urban IV in Viterbo and Orvieto. On 13 February 1263 he was appointed crusade preacher in Germany till the Pope's death on 2 October 1264.




Albertus bishop of Köln

1264 - 1280


From 1264 Albert was the suffragan bishop of Köln
and the permanent preacher of the  cathedral.


San Marino 1967, Mi 901, Sc 675.





7 September 1273 Albertus consecrated the church of the Virgin
and Saint Stephan on the 'Hondsberg' in Nijmegen.


Netherlands 1988. Postmark Nijmegen 19.03.1988.








Albertus consecrated the church of the Benedictine abbey  in Mönchengladbach in 1275.


Germany 1974. Postmark Mönchengladbach 15.09.1974.






Germany 1975. Postmark Mönchengladbach 06.02.1975.






On 9 September 1276 Albertus consecrated the church
of Saint Paul of the Dominican priory in Antwerpen.


Belgium 1969. Postmark. Antwerpen 15.02.1969.





700th  Anniversary of the death of Saint Dominic, 6 August 1280.



Albert the Great as bishop on horse-back, teaching  
his companion, during his mission for peace.
Angelo Canevari.

Vatican City 1980,  Mi 777, Sc 677.
Albert the Great
as bishop.
by Angelo Canevari.
Vatican City 1980, Mi 778, Sc




Some members of the Order raised on objection to the use of horses by Albertus during his pastoral journeys. It was against the tradition of Saint Dominic who travelled barefoot.




The death of Albert the Great

15 November 1280



7th Centenary of the death of Albert the Great. Stamp aafter the painting of Joos of Ghent (see above), designed by Elisabeth von Janota - Bzowski after the copy in the Andrews priory in Düsseldorf.

                    Germany 1980, Mi 1049, Sc 1328.
  Germany 1981, Postmark Köln





Albert the Great died in Köln in 1280.
In commemoration of his death these postmarks.
The portrait is perhaps taken from the medal of Kurt Bodlak, Vienna 1970. Albertus Magnus. Ausstellung zum 700. Todestag. Köln 1981, plate 56

                                  Germany 1980. Postmark Lauingen 15.11.1980.

    Germany 1980. Postmark Lauingen 02.12.1980.


Albert the Great was canonized by

pope Pius XI on 16 December 1931.


Rwanda 1970, Mi 434, Sc 393.




   Albert the Great was declared patron of the physicists

   by pope Pius XII on 16 December 1941.


   Panama 1956, Mi 498, Sc not listed.




To Albert the Great, part II


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