Saints of the Day – Albert of Louvain

[Saint Albert of Louvain]Article

(also known as Albert of Brabant)

Born at Mont César, Louvain, in 1166; died November 24, 1192; cultus confirmed 1613. Albert, son of Duke Godfrey III of Brabant and his wife Margaret of Limburg, was raised for a life in the Church in a castle on what is now called Mont-César. At age 12 he was made a canon of Liège, but renounced his benefice when he came of age.

At age 21, Albert attached himself as a knight to the entourage of his enemy Count Baldwin V of Brabant. When the papal legate preached the crusade in Liège a few months later, Albert took up the cross, and at the same time took up his canonry again. He never participated in the crusade, instead the subdeacon was quickly promoted to archdeacon, then provost.

In 1191 (age 25), Albert was overwhelmingly chosen bishop of Liège by the chapter over another archdeacon, Albert of Rethel, who was cousin to Baldwin and the uncle of Empress Constance. His election was opposed by Emperor Henry VI who favored his wife’s uncle. When the cause was heard at Worms, the emperor gave the see to Lothaire, provost of Bonn, whom he had just made imperial chancellor in return for 3,000 marks.

In order to appeal to Rome, Saint Albert had to travel circuitously and covertly under the guise of a servant so as to avoid interception by the emperor’s men. Following Pope Celestine III’s confirmation of the election, Albert returned to Liège, but found Lothaire already intruded in the see and that Archbishop Bruno of Cologne was unwilling to incur the wrath of the emperor by consecrating Albert. Meanwhile the pope had made arrangements for Archbishop William of Rheims to ordain and consecrate Albert. This was accomplished at Rheims on September 29, 1192.

When war appeared immanent between the emperor and Albert’s uncle over his consecration, the saint opted to remain in exile rather than precipitate a war. Still the emperor was not satisfied. He forced the submission of Albert’s clerical supporters before leaving Liège for Maestricht to hatch another plot against the lawful bishop. Just 10 weeks after his consecration, Saint Albert was murdered by three German knights as he was making a visit to the abbey of Saint-Remi outside the walls of Rheims. He was buried with honor in the cathedral (Benedictines, Walsh).

In art Saint Albert is depicted as a bishop with a knife in his head or with three swords on the ground before him. (He is easily confused with Thomas a Becket (of Canterbury), whose martyrdom was similar.) Sometimes he is shown as an enthroned cardinal holding a palm, three swords before him, or as a cardinal protecting the Archduke Albert (Roeder).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 August 2020. Web. 29 November 2020. <>