Albertus Magnus's Biography (Photos)
Albert de Groot or von Bollstadt, was born in Suabia, at Larvigen, on the Danube, in 1205. The term "Magnus" applied to him is not the consequence of his great reputation, but it is the Latin equivalent of his family name.
He is accredited with excessive stupidity during his youth but later unfolded the highest intellectual illumination and became one of the greatest doctors of his day. He was made Provincial of the Dominicans, appointed to the Bishopric of Ratisbon, which he resigned to go into conventual retreat at Cologne.
His Opera Omnia comprises twenty-one folio volumes, and in 1480 the Great Chronicle of Belgium records him "magnus in magia, major in philosophia, maximus in theologia." His singular experiments are recorded in the "Secretum Secretorum" which first appeared at Venice in 1508. Maier states that Albertus received from the disciples of St. Dominic the secret of the "Philosophical Stone" and the mysteries of the "Rosie Cross," which he afterward communicated to his pupil St. Thomas Aquinas. Albertus taught the possibility of transmutation "when performed upon the principles of Nature."
He considers that all metals are composed "on an unctuous and subtle humidity, intimately incorporated with a subtle and perfect matter." He employed alembics for distillations and aludels for sublimations; he also made use of various lutes, the composition of which describes. He mentions alum and caustic alkali, and seems to have been aware of the alkaline basis of cream of tartar. He knew the method of purifying the precious metals by means of lead and of gold, by cementation, likewise the method of testing the purity of gold.
He mentions red lead, metallic arsenic, and liver of sulphur. He was acquainted with green vitriol and iron pyrites. He knew that arsenic renders copper white, and that sulphur attacks all the metals except gold. Albertus Magnus was one of the strongest links in the continuity of the Order during the pre- "C.R.C." period.