From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Albertus Magnus, O.P. (1193/1206 - November 15, 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, was a Dominican friar and bishop who achieved fame for his comprehensive knowledge of and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. He is considered to be the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. He was the first among medieval scholars to apply Aristotle's philosophy to Christian thought. Catholicism honors him as a Doctor of the Church, one of only 33 persons with that honor.
The iconography of the tympanum and archivolts of the late-13th century portal of Strasbourg Cathedral was inspired by the writings of Albertus Magnus. Albertus is recorded as having made a mechanical automaton in the form of a brass head that would answer questions put to it. Such a feat was also attributed to Roger Bacon.
In The Concept of Anxiety Søren Kierkegaard wrote that Albert Magnus, "arrogantly boasted of his speculation before the deity and suddenly became stupid." Kierkegaard cites G. O. Marbach who he quotes as saying "Albertus repente ex asino factus philosophus et ex philosopho asinus" [Albert was suddenly transformed from an ass into a philosopher and from a philosopher into an ass].
In 1968, he was cited by William F. Buckley as one of several historical figures whose best qualities would be emulated by the ideal President.
The typeface Albertus is named in his memory.
In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Albertus Magnus is referred to as one of Victor Frankenstein's chosen readings. He is also referred to in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birth-mark and Herman Melville's The Bell Tower. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, the character of Alberto Mallich (founder of the Unseen University and later Death's manservant Albert) is a sly nod to Albertus Magnus in his more legendary and esoteric guise. Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s novel A Canticle for Leibowitz centers around a monastic order called the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, named by its founder after Albertus Magnus and dedicated to preserving scientific knowledge lost after a nuclear war.