Dominican saints & blesseds: November 2011 Archives

Saint Albert the Great

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S. Albertus Magnus.jpgSt Albert the Great reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith and that through their vocation to the study of nature, scientists can take an authentic and fascinating path of holiness.

His extraordinary openmindedness is also revealed in a cultural feat which he carried out successfully, that is, the acceptance and appreciation of Aristotle's thought. In St Albert's time, in fact, knowledge was spreading of numerous works by this great Greek philosopher, who lived a quarter of a century before Christ, especially in the sphere of ethics and metaphysics. They showed the power of reason, explained lucidly and clearly the meaning and structure of reality, its intelligibility and the value and purpose of human actions. St Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance in medieval philosophy and theology of Aristotle's philosophy, which was subsequently given a definitive form by St Thomas. This reception of a pagan pre-Christian philosophy, let us say, was an authentic cultural revolution in that epoch. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy, a non-Christian philosophy, especially because, presented by his Arab commentators, it had been interpreted in such a way, at least in certain points, as to appear completely irreconcilable with the Christian faith. Hence a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in conflict with each other or not? 

This is one of the great merits of St Albert: with scientific rigour he studied Aristotle's works, convinced that all that is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In other words, St Albert the Great thus contributed to the formation of an autonomous philosophy, distinct from theology and united with it only by the unity of the truth. So it was that in the 13th century a clear distinction came into being between these two branches of knowledge, philosophy and theology, which, in conversing with each other, cooperate harmoniously in the discovery of the authentic vocation of man, thirsting for truth and happiness: and it is above all theology, that St Albert defined as "emotional knowledge", which points out to human beings their vocation to eternal joy, a joy that flows from full adherence to the truth.

Pope Benedict XVI
March 2010

Saint Martin de Porres

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St Martin de Porres4.jpg
Today's the feast of the great Dominican saint, Martin de Porres (1579-1639). A native of Peru, he was the son of a slave mother and a Spanish father (who weren't married).

Martin's holiness and charitable work is beyond compare. For a man of no education he had the reputation for wisdom that people of civil and ecclesial government along with the common person sought his counsel. One Dominican Friar told me that he and Saint Rose of Lima are two of the most popular saints from the Order of Preachers surpassing Aquinas and others. He was what we call today, "a man of the people." Martin was the first black person to be given the habit of the Order of Friars Preachers taking vows in 1603. Blessed John XXIII canonized Martin in 1962 who called him, "Martin of charity."

Each day I pass Saint Martin's altar sometimes aware of De Porres' supreme affection for Jesus and intense love for his brother and sister; other days, not so aware. But aware or not, my love for Saint Martin has only grown in recent times because I recognize in him an authentic and recognizable model of Christian charity and the desire to seek the Face of God in prayer.

Do you desire to be Christ, to follow Christ more closely? Walk on the path that Saint Martin shows....

Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Dominican saints & blesseds category from November 2011.

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