|Albert Lacombe, OMI, early 1900s.|
November 21 is the feast day for St. Albert of Louvain, the patron saint of Father Albert Lacombe, OMI. Lacombe began the mission of St. Albert in 1861 and the City of St. Albert is named after Lacombe’s patron saint.
Who was Albert of Louvain?
Albert of Louvain was born ca. 1166 in Brabant which is in modern day Belgium. At the age of 12, he was appointed canon of the city of Liege in Belgium. By the age of 21, he became a knight but later wanted to return to a religious vocation so became canon of Liege again. He was named Bishop of Liege in 1191; however, Albert of Lethel, who had connections with Emperor Henry VI, wanted the episcopacy. Albert of Louvain asked the pope of Rome for help and he was granted the appointment. Archbishop of Rheims ordained Albert of Louvain bishop but Emperor Henry VI had him murdered.
St. Albert’s relics and St. Albert, NWT
In 1878, Bishop Vital Grandin was the bishop of the See of St. Albert mission in Northwest Territories (today’s Alberta). He was given a letter from the Archbishop of Malines to take a holy relic from St. Albert of Louvain to Canada. Bishop Grandin successfully brought to Canada what was believed to be a bone of St. Albert of Louvain; however, the relic he brought back did not belong to St. Albert of Louvain as was discovered years later.
In 1919, the cathedral of Rheims was being cleared of debris after a German bombardment. A tomb was opened which was believed to be that of Odalric, a 10th century archbishop. After medical and archeological examinations, it was discovered that the body was actually St. Albert of Louvain. Odalric’s body was buried where St. Albert was believed to be buried and St. Albert’s body was buried where Odalric’s was thought to have been. Thus, the relic brought back to Canada in 1878 was not that from St. Albert’s body.
Information for this blog post comes from:
Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton Archives
Hebert J. Thurston, SJ & Donald Attwater, eds. Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Complete Edition. London: Burns & Oates, 1956.