Albert was one of the first saints in the Carmelite Order. He was known for his love of poverty, deep prayer life and excellent preaching that touched the hearts of many. Sts. Teresa of Jesus and Mary Magdalene de Pazzi had strong devotion towards him. Yet, for all that, very little is known about the man. Indeed, legend has been woven throughout his life that seeks to flesh out who he was and what he did. His birth marks that point.
He was the only child of noble parents, Benedetto degli Abatic and Giovanna Palizi. They were unable to have any children but promised God if they had a son, they would dedicate him to our Lady of Mount Carmel. Albert degli Abati was born In Sicily around the year 1240. Just a few years earlier, the Carmelites had arrived in Europe and begun moving from an eremitical lifestyle to becoming mendicants.
Little is known of his early childhood except that he was educated by the Carmelites. During this time, he decided to enter the Order in 1258 and become a priest. Albert was ordained in Trapani. Shortly afterward, his superiors sent him to Messina where his reputation as a preacher grew. He worked alongside Jewish people. He converted a few, worked with and met the needs of others. There is a story that he saved three Jews from drowning while healing a Jewish boy of epilepsy. The story points to his ability to work miracles of healing for the sick.
Albert was dedicated to a life of prayer and penance. He was a lover of solitude but he was also engaged in study and the active apostolate of evangelization and preaching. The claim has been made that he wrote books, though none have survived. From 1280 to 1287 he lived and preached throughout Trapani. Albert later became provincial for the Carmelite province in Sicily in 1296. It is said that he spent the last few years of his life in a hermitage near Messina. Albert died on August 7, 1307.
Miracles of healing through his intercession continued after his death. Pope Nicholas V beatified him in 1454. Pope Sixtus IV canonized him on May 31, 1476. Some of his relics are found at Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. He is considered a Patron and Protector of the Order. He is also patron of Carmelite studies. On his feast day, relics of the saint are dipped in water of St. Albert’s Well in Agrigento. The water is said to grant healing to the sick that use it.
St. Albert of Trapani, pray for us.