Albert is a shining example of a Dominican who did not preach to the multitudes from a pulpit, but preached the Truth he encountered in nature and work through his example and his action. Albert was born in 1214 in the fertile valley of Serriano, in Bergamo. His father was a farmer and taught Albert many practices of penance and piety. By the age of seven, Albert was fasting three days a week and giving his food to the poor. Working at hard labor in the fields, Albert learned to see God in all things and to listen for His voice in nature. To him, the beauty of the earth was a voice that spoke only of heaven.
Albert married young and at first his wife did not object to his tremendous charity and self-denial. But after Albert’s father died, she began to nag and scold him. Once when he gave his meal away to the poor, she chided him terribly: “You give away too much to the poor!” He simply responded to her, “God will return what is given to the poor.” And miraculously, his meal was replaced. She then softened her tone and became his rival in works of charity and piety.
Soon after, Albert’s wife died, yet Albert still had much to suffer from his relations: he was violently turned out of the farm which he had cultivated so well. But he had learned always to possess his soul in peace and he decided to make pilgrimages to holy places. Bl. Albert went nine times to Rome, eight times to Compostella in Spain and once to Jerusalem; he sanctified the long hours of travel by silence and prayer.
Stopping in Cremona during harvest time, Albert went to work in the fields. He soon earned the name of “the diligent worker.” Because his guardian angel worked beside him, Albert completed twice the amount of work expected of a man. Consequently, at the end of the day when the day’s harvest was weighed to determine each man’s pay, Albert always received twice as much as the others in wages; yet he always gave everything to the poor, using only what little he needed to survive. His jealous coworkers decided to harass him by placing pieces of iron in the fields where Albert was expected to harvest the next day, then they watched to see Albert dull or break his scythe when it hit the iron. Miraculously, Albert’s scythe cut through the iron as easily as the grain, suffering no damage.
Seeing the treatment of poor pilgrims who fell ill during their travels, Albert decided to build a hospital for them, and he accomplished it through prayers and diligent work. He met the Dominicans in 1256 and became a tertiary. He assisted the Dominican friars in Cremona, worked in their gardens, grew medicinal herbs and cheerfully did all the most humble and heavy work.
At the end of his life, Albert fell seriously ill and asked a neighbor to fetch a priest, but there was a long delay; a dove came bringing him Holy Viaticum. When they tried to bury him, the grave-digger could not break the ground with any spade. From this it was under stood that, on account of his sanctity, God, Who loves pure and simple souls, desired that he should be buried in the choir of the church (1279).
Blessed Albert of Bergamo, pray for us!