St Albert the Great

Bishop of Regensburg (Germany) and Doctor of the Church (entered heaven in 1280)

Dear Alice,

I do so hope you are able to take a break from your grueling work in the lab and get a chance to read this before midnight; today is the feast day of your patron saint, my dear niece, and you ought to do something special in his honor.  Don’t be confused; I know that you are not named after Albert the Great, but do you know that he is patron of all students of the natural sciences?  And since your biochemistry fetish still qualifies as a natural science, he is your patron.  There you have it.  I am sure that he will be delighted to join his prayers to yours for all your intentions today, if you are willing to take a minute and ask him.  (Don’t worry, I’ll ask him too.)  And in addition to his intercession, it wouldn’t hurt you to reflect a bit on his example.  He was dubbed “the Great” by his contemporaries, you know, not by pious devotees of later centuries, and when Pope Pius XI named him a Doctor of the Church (“a title given since the Middle Ages to certain saints whose writing or preaching is outstanding for guiding the faithful in all periods of the Church’s history”) he pointed out Albert’s relevance for our day and age: “St Albert had that rare and divine gift, scientific instinct, in the highest degree… he is exactly the saint whose example should inspire the present age, which so ardently seeks peace and is so full of hope in its scientific discoveries.”

You might be interested to know that among Albert’s voluminous and authoritative writings on geography, physics, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry, and biology, he also clearly argued that the earth was in the shape of a sphere – so much for the specious theory that the Middle Ages were clouded in utter superstition and ignorance. Those specious theorists also commonly neglect the obvious fact that modern science grew directly out of the European university culture, which just so happened to be a Catholic entity, and that the father of the modern scientific method (Francis Bacon), just happened to be a Franciscan priest, and that the early modern scientists (like Copernicus, da Vinci, and Galileo) were believing Catholics (although, admittedly, da Vinci squeaked in a bit later in life than the others)… Well, better not get me started.  Just promise me that you’ll never fall for that despicably arrogant and ignorant pseudo-scientific atheism so popular among techies today.  It makes my skin crawl, really does.

Happy feast day again – Love,

Uncle Eddy

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