Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Naming of St. Albert

Last week our local paper brought up the question: which saint was the City of St. Albert named after?

I said earlier in the blog, that our city was named after Father Lacombe’s patron saint. But then, I didn’t realize that there are 11 St. Albert’s in the brotherhood of saints. So which one was it?

Just off our main street, hidden in a walkway, is a statue of St. Albert the Great. He’s the patron saint of scientists and as we have a statue of him, one would assume he’s the man. However, it seems that he could not possibly have been Father Lacombe’s patron saint as St. Albert the Great didn’t become a saint until 1931, 70 years after the founding of St. Albert.


Well, we have a few scientists in our house so it’s a good association for us.

But who is the right saint? According to Father Lacombe’s biography, the naming of St. Albert happened like this:


“On Jan. 14, 1861, Lacombe and Bishop Taché stood in the snow on top of what is now Mission Hill. Taché turned to Lacombe and said, in French, "My Father, this site is charming. I choose it for the founding of a mission which you will name Saint Albert, in honour of your patron saint."  

I took this photo from the top of Mission Hill looking down at what is now the centre of St. Albert.


So Father Lacombe's biography doesn't name the saint. But it seems most of the evidence points to Albert of Louvain, cardinal-bishop of Liège. Born in France in 1166, he became a bishop when he was just 25. He was caught in a power struggle in the church and murdered in 1192.

Back to the statue….some councilors have suggested that even if our city wasn’t named after St. Albert the Great we can still have him as the city’s patron saint. I think that’s a very sensible solution and a good reason to keep this lovely little statue, maybe we could even move it to a more prominent spot.




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