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St. Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont
Died: 21st April 1109

Anselm was born in Aosta around 1033. He entered the Monastery of Bec which, under Lanfranc, had become a centre of learning. Anselm succeeded Lanfranc as Abbot and, on a visit to England in 1093, he was compelled by William Rufus to accept the Archbishopric of Canterbury. William, however, continually thwarted and harassed him, by plundering and oppressing the Church, so that Anselm was driven to lay his difficulties before the Pope. The appeal met with little success but, upon the death of William, he was recalled by King Henry I and the voice of all the people. Fresh difficulties arose however, when Henry expressed his desire that Anselm should receive the investiture from his own hands. This, Anselm declined unless it were sanctioned by the Pope. He was inflexible in his determination to protect the rights and liberties of the Church and, finally, the conflict was settled by a compromise, two years before his death which took place in 1109.

His honesty of purpose, his undaunted courage, his saintly character and, above all, his great learning, entitle him to be regarded as one of the chief glories of the English Church. He was the author of many theological and philosophical works of which the most famous was Cur Deus Homo. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VI in 1494.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC