Albert the Great vs. Leo the Great

We're back for the first full week of Lent Madness 2021. That's five straight days of heart-stopping saintly thrills. Although the first three matchups haven't been particularly close (Camillus de Lellis, Constantine, and Egeria all won handily), a tight race always lurks just around the bracket corner.

Today, it's the Battle of the Greats as Albert the Great squares off against Leo the Great to determine, once and for all, just who is the greatest? (with all due respect to Muhammad Ali, of course).

Over the weekend, in the only Saturday matchup of the season, Egeria saw her way past Tarcisius 61% to 39%. Don't forget you can click on the Bracket Tab to check past results and access the Matchup Calendar to see the upcoming pairings. Now go vote!

Albert the Great
During the Middle Ages, there were few subject areas that Albert didn’t study, contribute to, or lead the way in.

Albert the Great, also known as Albertus Magnus and Albert of Cologne, was a scientist, teacher, theologian, philosopher, prolific writer, physician, German Dominican friar, bishop, and diplomat.

Albert was born around the year 1193, somewhere in Bavaria to a wealthy German family. Albert was educated primarily at the University of Padua in northern Italy, where he began a lifelong interest in the writings of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Around this time, Albert reportedly was visited by the Virgin Mary, which convinced him to enter the Dominican Order.

He became a master of theology in 1245 and began to teach at the University of Paris, where the highly influential Thomas Aquinas was one of his students. Their relationship grew from teacher/student to friend and colleague. In 1254, Albert was elected prior for the Dominican Order German-speaking province, which kept him busy traveling and attending to the needs of the people. Six years later, he was named bishop of Regensburg, Bavaria, but resigned after three years. Again, his travels took him far, always on foot and never on horseback, thereby earning him the name “Boots the Bishop.”

His lasting influence is far-reaching and ubiquitous. His contributions can be found in all the major scientific fields, from alchemy to zoology. Among his innumerable contributions to the world of knowledge, he is credited as discovering arsenic. Also of significance are his writings about Aristotle.

Albert died November 15, 1280, in Cologne, Germany. Since November 15, 1954, his relics have been located in a Roman sarcophagus in the crypt of the Dominican St. Andreas Church in Cologne. He was named a saint and a doctor of the church on December 15, 1931—one of only 36 named doctors. On December 16, 1941, Pope Pius XII anointed Albert as the patron saint of the natural sciences.

He is the patron saint of medical technicians, natural sciences, philosophers, scientists, and Cincinnati, Ohio—home to Forward Movement!

Collect for Albert the Great
O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Albert, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Neva Rae Fox


Leo the Great
The fifth century was a time of turmoil in the Western Roman Empire. After the death of Theodosius in 395, the empire divided into Eastern and Western portions—and the Eastern Empire (centered in Constantinople) was more prosperous and secure than the Western Empire (centered in Rome).

It was within the unsettled west that Leo the Great served the church. The Western Empire was constantly under threat of invasion from the east and north. Around 440, Leo was sent to Gaul as a peacemaker between two generals whose bickering endangered Gaul’s safety; while he was there, he received word that he had been elected bishop of Rome.

Service as Pope in the middle of the fifth century didn’t carry the prestige it does today. Leo worked to assert the authority of the Roman pontiff as the successor of Peter: he asserted a strong hand in the furthest reaches of the Western Empire over recalcitrant bishops, and he worked energetically in Gaul, Spain, and Africa to combat the anathematized teachings of Manicheans, Pricillians, and Pelagians.

Yet while Leo built up the power of the Roman See, his gifts as a peacemaker left the most profound impression on Christianity as a whole. Debate had continued for centuries across the church as to the nature of Jesus Christ. Leo wrote with authority, dignity, and clarity that Jesus Christ is one person, the Divine Word, in whom human and divine natures are fully united without either confusion or mixture. The Tome of Leo was received by the Council of Chalcedon in 451; upon hearing it, the council is said to have remarked that “Peter has spoken by Leo.”

Leo was not limited to keeping the peace in church disputes. When Attilla the Hun surrounded Rome in 452, Leo personally negotiated with him to accept tribute instead of plundering and destroying the city. Three years later, as the Vandals surrounded Rome, Leo again sought peace. This time his efforts failed, yet his intervention is credited with saving the city from burning and mass slaughter.

His care for the integrity of the church and the safety of the people entrusted to its care commend him to the memory of the church as one of its saints; his feast day is celebrated on November 10.

Collect for Leo the Great
O Lord our God, grant that your church, following the teaching of your servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from your divine Being; through the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—David Sibley


Albert the Great vs. Leo the Great

  • Albert the Great (54%, 4,337 Votes)
  • Leo the Great (46%, 3,668 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,005

Loading ... Loading ...


Albert the Great: Vicente Salvador Gómez / Public domain
Leo the Great: Francisco Herrera the Younger / Public domain


* indicates required

Recent Posts



197 comments on “Albert the Great vs. Leo the Great”

  1. Both science and faith should alert us
    To pay homage to Doctor Albertus:
    His genius revealed
    Fruit in every field;
    Sending him to Sixteen cannot hurt us.

    1. My husband is an Albert Jr. and he's always hated his name. He goes by Al and doesn't appreciate being likened to Al Bundy, Fat Albert, the list goes on and on. Finally an Albert he can be proud of! Thanks for your wonderful poem.

      1. My father's middle name was Albert. I am now going on the assumption his parents, back in 1903 ,named for the saint.

      2. He can also be proud of Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Queen Victoria's husband. He supported the abolition of the slave trade and the repeal of the Corn Laws (which kept food prices high), encouraged the building of model apartments for the poor, promoted British art and industry, supervised the education of his nine children, reformed the curriculum at Cambridge University, and introduced the Christmas tree to Britain.

    2. I'm with you on this one John, but I will add this on Leo's behalf:

      It took lots of skill,
      and great force of will,
      to confer with Attil-a.

  2. I'm going contrarian today. I think Albert will win, but I'm voting for Leo. Being a true peacemaker isn't easy. You have to not always be pleasant. And it often means betraying your personal ethics. And today, we see so much intellectual purity being inforced in groups that ultimately leaves the little people on their own.

    1. Thank you, Ellen - you affirmed my decision to vote for Leo - I feel so much better now! I agree that Albert will prevail and his accomplishments and influence make the “win” okay with me. But as you so eloquently described, it’s very hard to ignore Leo’s courage as peacemaker - he negotiated with Attila the Hun, for heaven’s sake! (No pun intended.) Thanks again.

    2. Agree! Your comment helped me decide. Can you imagine the bravery to speak to Attila the Hun??

    3. I even put down Leo on my 2021 Bracket sheet, but the write-up really sings to me about the accomplishments of Albert. So it's a vote against my bracket interest this round. Excellent write-ups, both!

  3. This was a tough one. The polymath or the peacemaker? Without Leo and his intervention with Rome's secular enemies, there might never have been an Albert. But Albert, as a patron saint of medical technicians, got the edge in this day when medical science needs all the prayers we can offer!

  4. While in no way diminishing Leo's great contributions to the church, and especially to the understanding of the nature of Christ, In a day and age when science is under attack by certain parts of the church, I feel compelled to vote for Alberta the Great (although I get the impression, reading his biography, that he would be embarrassed by that qualifier.)

    1. YES! I'm all-in for Albert the Great. One resource, speaking to his gifts/being patron saint of the natural sciences, wrote that he researched and wrote about “114 species of birds, 113 quadrupeds, 139 aquatic animals, 61 serpents and 49 worms. He was the first to mention the weasel and the Arctic bear…”

      “To want everything that I want for the glory of God, to wish and do everything only and always for his glory.” -Attributed to Albert the Great

  5. Today's matchup may seem to pit two greats to our human eyes. Only one in my mind was closer to following and lead us humans to God word. Therefore I select Leo who not only brought action to the adage "Blessed are the peacemakers" but tried to help us see the truth about Jesus as both human and divine. To me that is why we have Jesus to show that God's truth can exist in a human life without a maze of man made rules.

    1. In this choice I feel myself to be a pinball. Yet, as I fall out at the bottom, I find myself with peace and Jesus, just as Pat Sadd does.

    2. My thoughts too. Talk about a statesman who was really good at crossing the aisle!
      I wish I could vote for both of them , also

  6. Albert, my namesake, used every minutes of his life in useful activities which exemplifies John Wesley's "Do all the good you can...". Albert was indeed Great.

  7. Blessed are the peacemakers in all the times and circumstances of our history. I vote for Leo.

    1. No doubt Albert was multi-talented and gave much to the world, but Leo successfully negotiated with Attilla !! (He must have been a "lion-hearted" Leo indeed to pull that off.) As well as helping to ground the theology of the western church soundly (less abstract and more important than it might sound). One vote here for Leo.

    2. My son's middle name is Leo, to honor a late, great Jesuit pastor whom I had the privilege to know. Fr. Leo, or "Fr X," as he was widely known, was a peacemaker and dearly and clearly loved Jesus with his heart, mind and soul. It's Leo the Great for me.

  8. Yes, the medical folks need our prayers, but with the deep divisions in this country, we also need peacemakers to bring people together.

  9. Honestly Albert is definitely going to win. I just don’t see Leo going into the playoffs, he doesn’t have a good defense plus he got traded to the western roman empire. Albert though his team got good defense plus their offense is pretty good as well so they got a good chance in the playoffs.

  10. My husband went to a Dominican college, so I have to vote for Albertus Magnus. Providence College has a building named after him.

    1. Same here! (Aquinas College) — the science building is Albertus Magnus Hall and I pretty much lived there. I’ll always vote for Albert if he comes up.

      1. That’s certainly appropriate: Thomas Aquinas (another Doctor of the Church) was a student of Albertus’ in Paris and Cologne.

  11. Albert has achievements in his favor. Leo was handed a difficult task(s). My vote is always going to go to the saint who personified Jesus Christ to me. Leo hands down.

  12. Blessed are the peace makers
    It seems that today we need a saint to heal our divides and cool the anger of extremists. A saint who represents the way to compromise and peace for the good of all. I admire and am thankful for the contributions of Albert but Leo seems to be the way forward for today's social ills.

  13. Another difficult match up, but I am going with the peacemaker who also solidified the understanding of the nature of Jesus.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Understanding the nature of Jesus is so fundamental, no number of acts, no matter how significant, can compare. This matchup seems to me faith vs works at its core.

    2. Love that succinct statement. I, too, vote for Leo today. Although my hiker side loves Boots the Bishop, too. 😀

  14. Perhaps it would have been better if arsenic had not been discovered? I voted for Leo the peacemaker, who wrote with insight about the nature of Jesus Christ.

    1. Hi, Janet from Bucks! We are in Berks, and I grew up in Chester. Nice to ‘see’ a neighbour in Lent Madness!

  15. Albert was a person who should be emulated in view or the difficult times we face today; indeed so many of medical researchers, medical personnel and health workers are doing just that even those who may never have heard of him.

  16. I was very impressed and enthusiastic about Albert the Great and his many accomplishments, but was deeply swayed by the argument that a peacemaker is so important in this world. I'm voting for Leo the Great.

  17. I am a marine Field Ecologist- Natural Science, I support Albert, our patron and very worthy Saint. He is a Renaissance person, before the Renaissance. He worked in multiple secular and Christian areas, showing the Kingdome has no borders. Great to celebrate and recognize an outstanding follower of Jesus. Albert Magnus feast day is 15 November. I plan to be celebrating; however, not in Koln, AKA Cologne.

  18. Hmm, great orthodoxy vs great science. Consolidation vs pluralization. Which should wear the golden halo in our day?

  19. My presbyteral ordination was on Leo's feast in 1984.
    Over the years I have learned to appreciate Leo's witness more and more, and today I vote for Leo the peacemaker, protector of the people committed to his charge, and of the faith as he received it.

  20. I’m struck by the thought that after all these millennia in the church, we still so often give the job that no one wants to the one who couldn’t make the meeting. Poor Leo! Though successfully negotiating with Attila the Hun is an amazing achievement, I did end up voting for Albert, mainly because of John Cabot’s rhyming skills.