Saint Albert of Trapani
Priest of our Order
Feast Day: 7 August
Who was Albert of Trapani?
A brief biography
St. Albert's Shrine in Dublin
St. Albert of Sicily
is one of the many famous saints, of whom very little is known,
the so-called “Lives” being merely collections of pious legend. He
was born in the thirteenth century in Sicily which was one of the first areas
of Carmelite settlement and expansion in the west. This
island was an obvious choice for the Carmelites, coming west from Palestine,
in which to make a foundation. Young Albert appears to have been attracted
by the newcomers, and entered the Order at Trapani,
on the western side of the island.
After his ordination,
Albert was sent to the priory at Messina,
also in Sicily,
and this was the main centre of his life’s work. St. Albert
typified the new kind of Carmelite that adaptation to the west produced, a
man of prayer and penance, a lover of solitude, but also a man engaged in
study and in the active apostolate. There were many Jews living in Sicily at
this time, and Albert seems to have made them a special object, and been
successful in making converts. He is also said to have written books, though
none survive, and he is regarded as patron of Carmelite studies. The order
recognised his many and outstanding abilities. The presence of Albert in
the convent of Trapani on Aug. 8,
1280, April 4 and Oct. 8, 1289, is attested by several parchments of the same
convent, now in the Fardelliana library of the same city. Here is also found a
parchment in the date of May 10, 1296 from which his office as provincial
superior is ascertained. He attended the General Chapter at Bruges
in 1297, in that capacity. However, he spent the last years of his life
before his death in 1307, living in a hermitage near Messina.
Recognised as a wonder worker during his lifetime, miracles and cures
continued to be attributed to Albert’s intercession after his death.
His cult spread
quickly through the whole of the Order. The date of a translation of
his relics, said to have been made in the year 1309 or 1316, is uncertain.
(This latter would seem more exact). Albert was among the first Carmelite
saints venerated by the Order, of which he was later considered a patron and
protector. Already in 1346 there was a chapel dedicated to him, in the convent
of Palermo. At various
general chapters, beginning with that of 1375, his papal canonisation was
proposed. In the chapter of 1411 it was said that his Proper Office was ready.
In 1457 Pope Callixtus III, by verbal consent (vivae vocis oracido); permitted
his cult, which was consequently confirmed by Sixtus IV with a bull of May 31,
1476. In 1524 it was ordered that his image be found on the seal of the general
chapter. Moreover, the general of the Order, Nicholas Audet, wanted an altar
dedicated to him in every Carmelite church. Even earlier, the chapter of 1420
had ordered that his image with a halo should be found in all the convents of
the Order. With this intense and extended cult, his abundant iconography is
easily understood. In it he is represented (with or without a book), first,
bearing a lily, a symbol of his victory over the senses at the beginning of his
religious life; then, in the act of overcoming the devil, or in the act of
working his miracles.
In 1623 one of the gates of the city of Messina
was dedicated to him. He is the patron of Trapani,
of Erice, of Palermo
and of Revere (Mantua).
St Teresa of Jesus and St Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi were especially devoted to
him; the Bl. Baptist Spagnoli composed a sapphic ode in his honor. His relics
are spread throughout Europe.
The head of the Saint is in the Carmelite church of Trapani where
he is still venerated, especially as a patron against fevers. His feast day is
celebrated there with great ceremony on August 7th.
In the last liturgical reform the rank of feast was granted for St. Albert
to the Carmelites, and of memorial to the Discalced of the same Order.
Agrigento in Sicily,
the memory is still preserved of St Albert purifying the water of a well.
This is a clear echo of the episode of the well of Jericho
purified by the prophet Elisha (2 K 2:19-22); and Albert was, of
course, part of the Carmelite family which originated with Elijah and Elisha.
Albert’s purifying the well made its water drinkable. To this day, water is
blessed on St
Albert's feast (August 7th) by dipping a relic of
the saint into water and reciting a prayer in
St. Albert’s intercession is asked for all who use the water,
that they will
gain healing of body and soul. Dr. Spratt who had lived in a
dedicated to St. Albert in Spain, brought the devotion to Ireland. He
inaugurated the well of St. Albert at
the Carmelite Whitefriars
Street church in Dublin City
centre. This well is visited by many people each day in the lobby at the
entrance to the main church. St Albert's
water is used against fever and other illnesses.
Legends around St Albert of Trapani
Saint Albert's message for the 21st Century
|Albert is said to have been born of Benedict degli Abati and
Joan Palizi, a couple
who had been childless for 26 years and who finally vowed to consecrate
any child they might have to the Blessed Virgin. Albert was the fruit
of that vow, and his mother honoured it by helping
him enter the Carmelite Order, despite his father's later wishes
for him to marry.
During Albert's early days as a Carmelite, the devil disguised himself as a beautiful young woman in order to attract
the attentions of the young novice and to draw him away from the decision he had made.
But Albert discovered the Tempter’s true
identity, which the beauty of the girl failed to totally conceal, the devil accidentally
showing his cloven hooves beneath the girl’s skirts. The novice was quick to drive the devil away,
entrusting himself once again to the divine protection. There are paintings which
depict Albert, in a sign of his victory, trampling a devil with feminine features but with goat's feet!
|The intercession of St Albert was said to have freed the people of Messina from famine
caused by a siege: some ships loaded with provisions miraculously passed
through the besiegers.
Legend relates that Albert recited the
entire Psalter every day, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours.
Once the saint saved three Jews from drowning near Agrigento, and on another occasion he cured a
Jewish boy of epilepsy in Sciacca. In both cases the legends speak
of explicit confessions of faith and subsequent baptism.
In Licata on one occasion a woman came and
asked him to liberate her daughter, who was
suspected of being possessed by the devil. The saint went and succeeded in freeing the daughter
from the evil presence with a gesture of humility, offering the other cheek after the young woman struck him a blow.
A woman in Trapani was helped by the saint during a
difficult childbirth, in which both her life and that of her child was at risk.
Albert managed to comfort the young woman, who then bore her baby safely. Women turned to the
saint to be cured of abscesses of the breast or fevers, especially puerperal fever, which
was a cause of many deaths in childbirth in those days.
In Palermo a boy who had been blinded by his sister
during a game gone tragic regained his
sight after St Albert's intercession, and afterwards became a Carmelite.
Another boy, from Lentini, was healed through the faith of his mother, who covered him with
a piece of the saint’s clothing, and this boy also became a Carmelite.
the people of Messina heard of Albert's death on August 7th 1307, they
came to the little monastery and took his body in solemn procession to
the Carmelite Church in the city. Then the Sicilian king and the
Archbishop of Messina had Albert's body brought to the
Cathedral. Controversy arose about what type of Mass was to be
celebrated and then two angels are said to have appeared and begun
to chant the Introit of the Mass of Confessors - "The mouth of the just man"...
Adapted from an article by Fr. Giovanni Grosso, O.Carm
Read the full article here: http://www.carmelites.ie/PDF/AlbertTrapani.pdf
little factual information is known about Albert, the collection
of legends and images that have survived down the centuries tell us
quite a bit about him and what matters most is their meaning: they
signify to us that Albert was a man of
God, who still shines for us today as a person made new by the Gospel, and permeated by God's Word.
Albert has often been portrayed with an open book in his hand, or with the
Child Jesus in his arms. This is not by accident, for
these are both iconographical attributes which indicate a preacher of the Gospel, which is precisely
what Albert was. In order to be authentic proclaimers it is
necessary to have encountered Jesus, and this is possible primarily through the hearing of
the Word. It was his familiarity with Scripture, cultivated in lectio divina with purity of heart and openness to the
transforming action of the Holy Spirit, which
made St. Albert
capable of proclaiming the Gospel. St.
Albert is remembered for an extraordinary ability to speak to people with
conviction and immediacy. He did not distract his listeners with
elegant forms of preaching but stressed the vital content of the message.
Albert's life shines as an example of
virtue and sincerity. His chastity
became a radiant expression of a
radical, definitive and complete choice for God. The purity practiced by Albert is not simply a physical fact, but
primarily a spiritual reality. Albert allowed himself to be seized by God: he placed himself
totally at God’s service, gave God his life and capacities, and welcomed God’s call as a gift and a
commitment for life. This example is more relevant than ever in our modern world.
Albert also made poverty a real life-decision. Coming from a well-off family of
some social standing was not an obstacle for him to
embrace the poverty of Christ and his disciples. He could have made a different choice and
joined the city clergy, or some abbey or canonry. Instead he chose to put himself alongside
the minores, the
least important people of his time and place, sharing
the style and condition of their lives. There is still validity in a poor and
austere life, which concentrates on the essential, without getting lost in
useless things, which is committed to building authentic and non-manipulative relationships with
others and with the reality around us. The Gospel poor, like St. Albert, know that they cannot count on
anything except God and his grace, they accept as a gift whatever they
receive from their brothers and sisters, without presuming anything, and they are thankful for it
all. Evangelical poverty makes one able to see the needs of others and to respond with generosity.
the Carmelite friar, was truly a brother to many sisters and brothers
who turned to him because they recognized him as a man
of God, that is as someone able to reveal the grandeur of the love of
God for them in
delicate or difficult situations. Albert was a man of concrete and
generous charity on more than
one occasion, attentive to the needs of all, especially the poorest.
His charitable acts can be classified under three groups:
1. Community and problems of a social character;
3. Psychological or spiritual problems.
Albert stood beside those who had no protector, put himself at their disposal,
offering a concrete and practical help to anyone in need of healing but with nowhere to turn
except to God. Albert was a man of God who revealed God’s maternal tenderness in
healing his weakest sons and daughters.
Today there is a quite widespread
understanding of the relationship between Christians and people of other religions which is very
different from the one that was normal in the past, even until quite
recently. In the 13th century, Albert and the Carmelites considered it a point of honour to proclaim the faith to
the members of the Chosen People in imitation of the Prophet (1 K 18:20-40). These days the
discussion has moved on to a level of dialogue and of recognition of the fundamentals
which we hold in common, of the need to work together in the proclamation of faith, but
the example of St. Albert reminds us that the
most basic witness is at
the level of authentic, delicate and courteous charity. He is considered, in our present times, an example of the pastoral preaching
apostolate to Christians and non-Christians alike.
Devotion to Our Lady has developed a lot since St Albert's day, but we can still learn from his reverence of the virginity of Mary and we can understand it
not merely as something physical, but as interior virtue, purity
of heart, a psychological and spiritual orientation devoted exclusively to God. This in fact was one of the central points in the spirituality of St. Albert. To be devoted to Mary, today as in the time of St. Albert, means to feel
that one is accompanied and sustained in the journey of faith, on a
down-to-earth path of humble and quiet charity towards one’s brothers and sisters, open to the hope of
the new and full life which Christ gives us in the Holy Spirit.
Ancient Prayer for healing attributed to St Albert
my God, you have created the human race by your wonderful power. It is
an act of your clemency that has called us to share your glory and
eternal life. When the first sin condemned us to suffer death, out of
your goodness you wished to redeem us through the blood of your Son, to
unite us to you through our faith and your great mercy. You have
brought us back from the shame of our sin; you have veiled our
dishonour in the brightness of your glory. Look now and see that what
you have created, giving it subtle limbs and joints and made beautiful
through its immortal soul, is now subject to the attack of Satan. Be
pleased Lord to reconstitute your work and heal it. May your power be
glorified and may the malice of the enemy be stunned.
Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Albert of Trapani
you made St. Albert of
a model of purity and
and a devoted servant of Our
May we practise these same
and so be worthy always
to share the banquet of your
We ask this through Christ our
Wikipedia listing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_of_Trapani
Saints Online: http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-albert-of-sicily/
TOC Philippines Blog: http://tocphilippines.blogspot.com/2009/08/st-albert-of-trapani.html
"Albert of Trapani, a saint of yesterday for today" - by Giovanni Grosso, O.Carm:
is a Catholic Church in Texas, USA, dedicated to St Albert of Trapani
and they celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2010. Visit their website
text on this page has been taken from the "Calendar of
Carmelite Saints" published by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore, from
the book "Meeting God" published by The Irish Carmelites, and from the Irish Carmelites website (www.carmelites.ie).