Thursday, April 21, 2016
Feast of St. Anselm

"No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills, and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God" (St. Anselm, Letter 112).

Double (1955 Calendar): April 21

As the Roman Martyrology states of him: "At Canterbury, England, St. Anselm, bishop, confessor, and doctor of the Church, renowned for sanctity and learning." Dom Gueranger writes in the Liturgical Year: "A monk, a Bishop, a Doctor of the Church—such was the Saint whose feast comes to gladden us on this twenty-first day of April. He was a martyr, also, at least in desire, and we may add, in merit too—for he did enough to earn the glorious palm. When we think of Anselm, we picture to ourselves a man in whom are combined the humility and meekness of the cloister with the zeal and courage of the episcopal dignity; a man who was both a sage and a saint; a man whom it was impossible not to love and respect."

In a great example to modern men, St. Anselm shows us all the path to repentance.  Despite being indifferent toward religion at a young age, by age 15 St. Anselm wanted to enter a monastery.  He was refused though due to the strong resistance from his father.  And so ensued years of worldly living and disregard for the Faith.

Then twelve years later, he returned to his earlier desire to be a monk and entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy.  Three short years later he was elected prior and 15 years afterward he became the abbot by unanimous consent.

Despite an early life that was wasted, St. Anselm would go on to receive the title "Father of Scholasticism" and earn the reputation for sanctity and learning.  As a monk, St. Anselm was admired for his skill in teaching and the virtue of patience.  Through his leadership, the monastery of Bec became an influential center of learning and theology.

One of St. Anselm's greatest works was Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man).  Please consider reading more on St. Anselm's doctrine of the Atonement as well as a philosophical analysis of the soundness of his ontological argument to better understand his work and the lasting impact of his writings.

At the age of 60, St. Anselm was appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1093; however, King William Rufus refused to cooperate in Anselm's reform of the Church.  St. Anselm fled into voluntary exile and returned in 1100 upon the death of King Rufus.  Rufus' brother, Henry I, became king, and Anselm spent another three years in exile after their un-reconcilable differences regarding the investiture of England's bishops.  As the kings encroached more and more on the matters under the jurisdiction of the Church, St. Anselm suffered much in defense of Holy Mother Church.

St. Anselm also worked strongly against the slave trade and for the protection of the poorest of people. He obtained from Westminster a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.  St. Anselm died in the year 1109 AD.  He is a Doctor of the Church.


O God, may blessed Anselm intercede for us in heaven as he once instructed Your faithful on earth and directed them in the way of eternal salvation. Through Our Lord . . .

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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