Today Saint Anselm of Canterbury is celebrated, who encourages us to give reason for our faith

Jasjot Singh

Every April 21, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Anselm of Canterbury, a Benedictine monk of the 11th century, who came to occupy the seat of Canterbury (England) as archbishop. Saint Anselm of Aosta -as he is also known- was an outstanding theologian and philosopher, considered the “father of scholasticism”. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in the s. XVIII, thanks to his brilliant intellectual work, in which he masterfully managed to link faith and reason, theology and philosophy.

As a theologian, he is remembered for his defense of the Immaculate Conception; and, as a philosopher, for the development of the famous “ontological argument” to prove the existence of God.

Love of God enhances intelligence

Due to his intellectual stature, Anselm can be considered the greatest intellectual until Saint Thomas Aquinas -of whom he was a precursor in the philosophical discussion about the existence of God- since the Church had not had a metaphysician of such a high level since the time of San Agustin. He is also one of the most read and studied authors of all time, especially among logicians, apologists and among those who wish to give reasons for their faith.

Anselm was born in the year 1033, in Aosta del Piemonte (Italian Alps). His education was entrusted to the Benedictine monks. After the death of his mother, and as a result of a bad relationship with his father, Anselmo left his house and emigrated to the other side of the Alps. In 1060, at the age of 27, he entered the monastery at Bec (Normandy) where he became a disciple and great friend of Lanfranc, who was also Archbishop of Canterbury.

Three years later Anselm became prior of Bec, after Lanfranc was sent to take charge of the Abbey of Men (Caen, Normandy).

The two wings to rise to the truth

As prior of Bec, the saint composed his two best-known works, which have served for centuries as a model of integration between philosophy and theology, and inspiration in the development of Natural Theology: the Monologium (meditations on the reasons of faith) , in which he develops the metaphysical demonstration of the existence of God; and the Proslogium (meditations of faith that seeks intelligence), dedicated to the attributes of God that can be known through reason alone.

Likewise, he wrote a series of treatises on topics such as truth, freedom, the origin of evil and the art of reasoning (one of his permanent interests was what we know as “logic”).

Son of Mary, servant of the Church

In 1078 Anselm was elected Abbot of Bec, forcing him to travel frequently to England. After the death of Lanfranco (1089), Anselm was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, on December 4, 1093, despite the fact that at first King William the Red opposed his appointment. King William had been very hostile to Catholics in general, and later to Anselm in particular. On more than one occasion, given the monk’s influence, he banished him from the island.

In one of those exiles, Saint Anselm stayed for a time in the monastery of Campania (Italy) while recovering from an illness. There he finished his famous work “Cur Deus homo”, the most famous treatise on the Incarnation in existence, and in which the saint develops his understanding of the decisive role of the Virgin Mary in the work of Salvation. He would later return to England but would be banished again. With difficulty, after this second exile, he was only able to settle on the Island permanently.

He died in 1109, surrounded by his brother monks, in Canterbury. In his hours of agony, he managed to leave these words as a testament: “Where the true heavenly joys are, there must always be the desires of our hearts.”

Saint Anselm of Canterbury was canonized in 1494 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.

If you want to know more about San Anselmo, we recommend the following article from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

To learn more about Scholasticism:

About the evidence to know the existence of God:

More information:

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