St Albert / Ailbhe

Bishop and Patron of the ArchDiocese of Cashel & Emly 7/8th centuries. Feastday: 8th January.

St Albert was also known as Adalbert or Ailb(h)e or Albeus. There is a full Life of St Albert extant and it is complemented by references in the Lives of other Saints of his time. He is said to have been a brother to St Erard of Ratisbon (and Ardagh) (also 8th January) and of St Hildulf of Treves and Moyenmoutier (11th July) and all were Irish of noble parents and all three became Arch-Bishops. They abandoned all worldly concerns

and comforts to follow their Divine Master. All were renowned for their learning and piety. The first ArchBishop of Emly, on the Tipperary/Limerick border, was St Ailbhe (5th century, 12th September), who is not to be confused with this St Albert, even though the names are quite similar. Emly was the principal See in Munster for centuries until the Metropolitan was transferred to Cashel in the time of Cormac Ó Cuilleanán, King and Bishop of Cashel about 895. In those early days, it was the holiest or greatest See that was adjudged the Archbishopric. Such an honour was not fixed for any particular place, e.g. in Leinster; Sletty, Kildare, Glendalough, Clonmore and Ferns held sway at different times. Furthermore, religion was organised more in relation to monasteries and their adjacent political regions, long before the County structure was brought in by the Normans.

Tradition indicates that, at probably different times, all three; Albert, Erard and Hi(l)dulf, as well as many holy companions each time, decided to break all human connections in Ireland and to go abroad to do missionary work. They travelled via France and Germany to reach Rome, following the earlier footsteps of many holy Irishmen. It is said that Hildulf also made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He returned and preached with St Deodatus in Germany about 680 – many years before St Boniface, and when the St Deodatus died, St Hildulf became ArchBishop of Treves and Abbot of Moyenmoutier. They were joined by St Albert at a later stage and all three preached in Germany; St Albert at Norica in Bavaria and St Erard in the region of Regensburg/ Ratisbon in Bavaria. The whole history of these three Saints suffers from a lack of certainty regarding dates for the various happenings and some details can be somewhat confusing as regards times.

St Albert decided to visit the Holy Land also and 7 companions went with him. On his return he visited St Virgilius in Salzburg. St Erard soon died and was buried in his Church. St Albert went to Ratisbon but he died shortly afterwards and was interred in the same Church close to St Erard. Miracles took place at his tomb from then on with people being cured of blindness and other infirmities.

St Albert is venerated at Cashel and Ratisbon. He was noted for his self-sacrificing and being angelic in all his missionary, Episcopal and monastic life. As a Confessor and Apostle, he had the spirit of the martyr.

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