Albert, BLESSED, Patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the conspicuous ecclesiastics in the troubles between the Holy See and Frederick Barbarossa; date of birth uncertain; d. September 14, 1215. He was in fact asked by both Pope and Emperor to act as umpire in their dispute and, as a reward, was made Prince of the Empire. He was born in the diocese of Parma, became a canon regular in the Monastery of Mortara (not Mortura, as Butler has it) in the Milanese, and, after being Bishop of Bobbio, for a short time, was translated to the see of Vercelli. This was about 1184. At that time the Latins occupied Jerusalem, and, the Patriarchate falling vacant, Albert was implored by the Christians of Palestine to accept the see. As it implied persecution and a prospect of martyrdom, he accepted, and was appointed by Innocent III, who at the same time made him Papal Legate. His sanctity procured him the veneration of even the Mohammedans. It was while here that he undertook a work with which his name is particularly and peculiarly associated. In Palestine, at that time, the hermits of Mount Carmel lived in separate cells. One of their number gathered them into a community, and in 1209 their superior, Brocard, requested the Patriarch, though not a Carmelite, to draw up a rule for them. He assented, and legislated in the most rigorous fashion, prescribing perpetual abstinence from flesh, protracted fasts, long silence, and extreme seclusion. It was so severe that mitigations had to be introduced by Innocent IV in 1246.
The end of this great prelate was most tragic. Summoned by Innocent III to take part in the General Council of the Lateran, in 1215, he was assassinated before he left Palestine, while taking part in a procession, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. He is honored among the saints by the Carmelites, on April 8. The Bollandists call attention to this curious anomaly, that not at Vercelli, or Bobbio, where he was bishop, not at Jerusalem, where he was Patriarch, not among the Canons Regular, to whom he properly belonged, but in the Order of the Carmelites, of which he was not a member, does he receive the honor of a saint. “That holy Order could not and ought not to lose the memory of him by whom it was ranked among the Orders approved by the Roman Church; in saying which”, adds the writer, “I in no way wish to impugn the Carmelite claim of descent from Elias.” At Vercelli Albert does not even figure as Blessed, and the Canons Regular honor him as a saint, but pay him no public cult.
T. J. CAMPBELL