Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 April – St Anselm of Canterbury (c1033-1109) – Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 April – St Anselm of Canterbury- Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church (c1033-1109) Doctor magnificus (Magnificent Doctor), Doctor Marianus (Marian Doctor), “Father of Scholasticism” – Monk, Prior, Abbott, Archbishop, Theologian, Philosopher.   Anselm was born in or around Aosta in Upper Burgundy sometime between April 1033 and April 1034.   At the age of fifteen, Anselm desired to enter a Monastery but, failing to obtain his father’s consent, he was refused by the Abbot.   The illness he then suffered has been considered a psychosomatic effect of his disappointment but upon his recovery he gave up his studies and for a time lived a carefree life.beautiful st anselm archbishop

Following the death of his mother, probably at the birth of his sister Richera, Anselm’s father repented his earlier lifestyle but professed his new faith with a severity that the boy found likewise unbearable.   Anselm, at age 23, left home with a single attendant crossed the Alps and wandered through Burgundy and France for three years.   His countryman Lanfranc of Pavia was then prior of the Benedictine abbey of Bec;  attracted by the fame of his fellow countryman, Anselm reached Normandy in 1059.   After spending some time in Avranches, he returned the next year.   His father having died, he consulted with Lanfranc as to whether to return to his estates and employ their income in providing alms or to renounce them, becoming a hermit or a monk at Bec or Cluny. Professing to fear his own bias, Lanfranc sent him to Maurilius, the Archbishop of Rouen, who convinced him to enter the abbey as a novice at the age of 27.   Probably in his first year, he wrote his first work on philosophy, a treatment of Latin paradoxes called the Grammarian.   Over the next decade, the Rule of Saint Benedict reshaped his thought.

st anselm sml

Because of the physical closeness and political connections, there was frequent travel and communication between Normandy and England and Anselm was in repeated contact with Church officials in England.    He was chosen as reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 109 – officials had to wait until he was too sick to argue in order to get him to agree.

st AnselmP136 assuming the palium
“Anselm Assuming the Pallium in Canterbury Cathedral” from E M Wilmot-Buxton’s 1915 Anselm

As bishop he fought King William Rufus’s encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, refused to pay bribes to take over as bishop and was exiled for his efforts.    He travelled to Rome, Italy and spent part of his exile as an advisor to Pope Blessed Urban II, obtaining the pope’s support for returning to England and conducting Church business without the king’s interference.    He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at Council of Bari in anselm snip

In 1100 King Henry II invited Anselm to return to England but they disputed over lay investiture and Anselm was exiled again only to return in 1106 when Henry agreed not to interfere with the selection of Church officials.    Anselm opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men.   He strongly supported celibate clergy and approved the addition of several saints to the liturgical calendar of England.


He died on Holy Wednesday, 21 April 1109.   His remains were translated to Canterbury Cathedral and laid at the head of Lanfranc at his initial resting place to the south of the Altar of the Holy Trinity (now St Thomas’s Chapel).   During the church’s reconstruction after the disastrous fire of the 1170s, his remains were relocated, although it is now uncertain where.Anselm v.Canterbury,Porträt/Kupferstich - Anselm of Canterbury, Portrait / Copper engraving - Anselme de Cantorbéry, portrait / Gravure

Anselm was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages and a noted theological writer.   He was far more at home in the monastery than in political circles but still managed to improve the position of the Church in England.    Counsellor to Pope Gregory VII.   Chosen a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.

The_Immaculate_Conception_with_St._Anselm_and_St._Martin_-_Giuseppe_Maria_Crespi_-_Louvre_INV_259 1722
Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610-1662) – The Meeting of the Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II (1637-1642), oil on canvas, Galleria dei Romanelli, the Vatican.


Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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