Born to a noble family in Bavaria, Albertus (Albert von Bollstädt) became an adherent to the newly formed Dominican Order while he was a student at Padua in 1223. After being ordained in Germany, he traveled to Paris and in 1245 became master of theology at the University there. His most famous student was Thomas Aquinas. Albertus had a lifelong interest in the natural sciences (at a time when alchemy had not yet been sharply distinguished from more legitimate sciences such as chemistry), and was an important scholar of Aristotle, whose influence pervaded both his scientific and his religious writings.
From 1260 to 1262, Albertus was the bishop of Regensburg, the nearest principal medieval city on the Danube to the north of Ingolstadt. He died in Cologne in 1280. Not long after his death, a number of writings on magic circulated under his name, although the validity of these attributions is questionable.
Albertus was beatified in 1622. In 1931, Pope Pius XI declared him a saint and a Doctor of the Church; in 1941, Pope Pius XII named him the patron saint of those who study the natural sciences.