Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers must sometimes feel left out in the Church calendar. Where, among the theologians and mystics, the martyrs and caregivers of the poor and ailing, do they have a place and a patron?
Science-types, rejoice! Today is the feast of St. Albert the Great (1206-1280), bishop, doctor of the church, Dominican priest, professor (St. Thomas Aquinas was his student for four years) and your patron. He studied (deep breath — ready, here we go) logic, mathematics, biology, botany, chemistry, physics, geology, geography and astronomy. He wrote volumes on these subjects. He made the first systematic study of Europe’s mountain ranges. He is affectionately called “the Universal Teacher.”
When Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1931, he said of St. Albert, also called Albertus Magnus, that he had “that rare and divine gift, scientific instinct, in the highest degree.”
So often we speak as though practitioners of science and faith have nothing to do with, or say to, one another. Albertus Magnus stands a powerful refutation of that mistaken belief. He saw everywhere the signs of God’s creative genius. He studied science to better know and understand the intricate and finely wrought world God made.
If you have children in your care, do a science experiment in St. Albert’s honor today. It can be as simple as filling a pail with water, then spinning the pail so that centrifugal force keeps the water from spilling out. Here’s a diagram (and a video) to help explain the action: