The saint for April 21
Saint Anselm of Canterbury
Optional Memorial
Roman Calendar

Anselm was born in 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont, Italy, but entered the Benedictine monastery at Bec in Normandy, France at the age of 27. He was elected prior there when the current prior, Lanfranc, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. He had a long career at Bec and was renowned for his sanctity, erudition and sweetness of disposition. Late in his life he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in chaotic circumstances, a position he had not sought and did not want, but which he filled with upright dignity, enduring even exile from the British King, William Rufus, with whom he much difficulty. This was a turbulent period for the Church in England, and on top of this, the English King was an openly practicing homosexual, which Anselm could not condone. Anselm imposed upon Rufus to recognize Urban II as pope. After this, the King tried to inveigle the Pope to remove Anselm, without success. The next move was Anselm's--he attempted to convene a synod of the English Bishops to condemn sodomy. The King countered by using his material powers to force the English bishops to renounce their loyalty to their archbishop. This state of affairs continued until Anselm went into voluntary exile in 1097, where he remained until after the Kings death in 1100. Anselm is the author of many scholarly works, most notably Proslogium: Discourse on the Existence of God Monologium: On The Being Of God Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man"). Anselm is perhaps best known for his ontological proof of the existence of God. However, in England he also was a strong force for resisting the encroachment of state against Church. He also sponsored legislation forbidding the sale of men and was a strong and effective opponent of slavery. He supported the celibacy of clergy and renewed the cults of local English saints, doing much to salve the wounds of the Norman takeover of the country. He died on April 21, 1109 at Canterbury; believed to be interred at Canterbury. Anselm was canonised in 1492 by pope Alexander the IV, and named a doctor of the Church (Doctor of Scholasticism) in 1720 by Pope Clement the XI.
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