ndifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church's greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title "Father of Scholasticism" for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason.
At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a
monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father's
opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion
and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a
monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was
elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously chosen abbot.
an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his
patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey
of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and
During these years, at the community's
request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to
those of St. Augustine (August 28). His best-known work is the book Cur
Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man").
At 60, against his will, Anselm
was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was
opposed at first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted.
Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the
Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died
in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and
successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's
insistence on investing England's bishops, Anselm spent another three
years in exile in Rome.
His care and concern extended to the very
poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the
national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting
the sale of human beings.