Saint Anselm

Monk, theologian, Archbishop of Canterbury, doctor of the church and one of the four fathers of scholasticism: This is, by his most famous title, Saint Anselm of Canterbury (Latin: Anselmus Cantuariensis)

1033: Born between the twenty-first of April, 1033, and the twenty-first of April,1034 to parents Gundulf and Ermenberg in what is now Aosta, Italy.

1057: Anselm left home to study in Burgundy after his mother passed away on the second day of November 1056, his relationship with his father soon deteriorated due to heated disagreement on the subject of Anselm’s wishes to join a monastery.

1059: His father, Gundulf, died on the Michaelmas of 1059 (29 September).

1060: Enrolled in the monastery of Bec and began life as a monk- hearing of the reputation the monastery at Bec had and of its friar Lanfranc, he moved to Normandy and befriended Lanfranc.

1063: Elected prior of Bec.

1063-1078: During Anselm’s time as prior of Bec- he became a fervent disciple of St Benedict, studied the works of St Augustine of Hippo, wrote many of his famous philosophical and theological works such as the ontological proof for the existence of God,Monologion 1077 and Proslogion 1078.

1078: Anselm elected Abbot of Bec- as Abbot of Bec, Anselm stayed in contact with his good friend Lanfranc the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070. Anselm visited England at least once in 1079 to investigate property belonging to his abbey.

1089: Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury died on the 28th of May, 1089- the see of Canterbury was kept vacant as King William II relished the see’s revenues.

1093: Anselm was elected Archbishop of Canterbury- King William II (Rufus) opinion of appointing someone as see of Canterbury took a U-turn when he took a sudden illness.

1095-1098: Pens and publishes Cur Deus Homo? (“Why God was a Man?”) as a response to arguments on the subject of Christ’s incarnation.

1097: Anselm went to Rome (first exile) – King William II arguably demanded Anselm to pay 1000 marks as the price of his nomination to the see of Canterbury. Moreover it has been stated the King attempted to wrestle the duchy of Normandy out of his brother Robert’s hands. Anselm abruptly refused to pay and was exiled to Rome where he gained the full support of Pope Urban II.

1100: Anselm returned to England as Archbishop of Canterbury when Henry I came to the throne.

1103: Anselm was exiled for the second time- Henry I claimed rights of appointing bishops and abbots as per his belief in a state controlled Church. Anselm ultimately defied Henry I’s views.

1103-1107: (Second exile) during his second exile he became a pastor and encouraged the ordination of native Englishmen among his clergy and staunchly opposed slavery.

1109: Anselm died- after the conflicts with Henry I became resolved, Anselm returned to England in 1107 and continued his work as Archbishop of Canterbury where he spent his final years.

1720: Anselm was canonized, Saint Anselm.

Saint Anselm’s Feast Day: 21 April.

St. Anselm’s College Heritage & Historical Research Society have done in-depth research on Saint Anselm. Below is an example of work carried out in order for us to get an understanding of Anselm’s written works.

Please find a summary therefore of Anselm’s famous written works, followed by questions to test your knowledge on the text.