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On April 21 we remember Anselm, a brilliant theologian who was archbishop of Canterbury from the year 1093, until his death sixteen years later.

He started his career as a wandering scholar and eventually became a monk at the Norman abbey of Bec, where he established his reputation as a teacher. He had a lively and inquiring mind, and was restless until he had discovered the inner coherence of basic Christian doctrines. He summed up his attitude in a philosophical meditation entitled, Faith Seeking Understanding. Anselm’s fame as a teacher, and his gifts as a spiritual director, brought him the highest positions in his abbey and eventually led to his election as archbishop of Canterbury. The demands of his new office soon overwhelmed his calling as a theologian.

The King of England, William II, was determined to make the Church submissive to his will — and Anselm felt that he had to be just as inflexible in maintaining its independent rights. He endured two periods of exile in France and Italy in order to make his point. In the end a compromise was negotiated, and Anslem returned to Canterbury, where he died in 1109.


O God,
who raised up your servant Anselm
to be a guide and teacher of faith
in its quest for understanding,
provide your Church in every age
with godliness and sound learning,
that we may have power to speak
the reason for the hope that is in us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


The St. Anselm stained glass window found at All Saints Anglican Church in Rome

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