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A 19th-century portrayal of Anselm being dragged to the cathedral by the English bishops

Feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury

(1033 – 1109)

St. Anselm was born into a noble family in the Lombardy region of Italy.  The example of his pious mother led him to great faith, and he sought to enter the monastery at age 15.  However, the abbot refused him due to Anselm’s stern father.  After his mother’s death Anselm left home and settled in Normandy to study under the direction of a famed monk named Lanfranc.  

Upon the death of his father, Anselm became a Benedictine monk at the age of 27.  Due to his brilliance, Anselm became a teacher at the abbey’s school and prior of the monastery.  He went on to become the most learned theologian, philosopher, and mystic of his generation, the greatest since St. Augustine of Hippo.  Anselm’s fame led to his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in England, succeeding Lanfranc in this office, where he went on to correct abuses against the Church at the hand of the English kings.  Twice he was banished from the island while appealing to Rome for assistance, and twice he returned to Canterbury to carry on his duties until his death.

His abilities as an extraordinary theologian, negotiator, and statesman greatly supported the cause of the Church.  As archbishop he continued his monastic lifestyle and intellectual pursuits.  He composed several philosophical and theological treatises, as well as a series of beautiful prayers and meditations, which led him to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720.

His feast day is celebrated on April 21st.

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O man, why do you roam about so far in search of good things for soul and body? Love the one Good, in whom all goods are contained, and that will satisfy you!”

Saint Anselm of Canterbury
Romanelli’s c. 1640 Meeting of Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II


Anselm of Canterbury, Portrait / Copper engraving Anselm of Canterbury Benedectine monk, philosopher, beatified – Copper engraving, 1584, after a drawing by André Thévet (1504-1592). From: André Thévet, Les vrais Pourtraits et Vies des Hommes illustres. Later colourisation.

Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved.”

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Saint Anselm, Bishop, Doctor of the Churchpray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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