St Anselm

posted by: Joan Vine | on: Wednesday, 20 September 2017, 17:24


St Anselm

St Anselm

Anselm was born in 1033 near Aosta, a Burgundian town close to the border with Lombardy. Little is known of his early life although it is recorded that, when a child, he had a miraculous vision of God on the summit of the Becca di Nona near his home, with God asking his name, his home and his quest after which he shared bread with him. Anselm then fell asleep and when he woke up he returned home.

At the age of 23 he left home and spent three years travelling through Burgundy and France arriving in Normandy in 1059, and in 1060 he entered the Benedictine Abbey at Bec as a novice. His intellectual and spiritual gifts brought him rapid advancement and when the prior, Lanfranc, was appointed Abbott of Caen in 1063, Anselm was elected to succeed him as prior. He was elected abbot in 1078 upon the death of Herluin, the founder and first abbot of Bec. Under Anselm's leadership the reputation of Bec as an intellectual centre grew.

In 1093 Anselm was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury. The previous Archbishop was Lanfranc, Anselm's old master, who had died four years earlier, but the King, William Rufus, had left the post vacant in order to plunder the church revenues. Anselm was understandably reluctant to accept the primacy of the church under a ruler as ruthless as William, and his tenure as Archbishop was as turbulent as he had feared. William intended to maintain Royal authority over ecclesiastical affairs and would not be dictated to by Archbishop or anyone else. So when Anselm went to Rome in 1097 without the King's permission, William would not allow him to return. When William was killed in 1100, his successor, Henry 1, invited Anselm to return to his see. But Henry was as determined as William had been to maintain Royal jurisdiction over the Church, and Anselm found himself in exile once more from 1103 to 1107.

Anselm died on 21 April 1109 and was canonised by Pope Alexander VI in 1494. Alan Vine


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