An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Anselm, St.

(1033-Apr. 21, 1109). Archbishop of Canterbury and theologian. Anselm is often called the father of Scholasticism and “the second Augustine.” He was born in Aosta, Piedmont, Italy, and took monastic vows at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy in 1060. In 1063 he succeeded Lanfranc as prior of Bec, and in 1078 he became abbot. On Dec. 4, 1093, he was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. His time as archbishop was most notable for his struggle with King William Rufus over property and privileges, and with King Henry I over lay investiture of the clergy. He was exiled twice, 1097-1100 and 1103-1106, but eventually he and King Henry I worked out a compromise. Two of his most celebrated books are Monologium and Proslogium, in which he articulated a rational, ontological proof for the existence of God. His argument is that “God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” In Cur deus homo Anselm presented his understanding of the Atonement. He argued that the God-man, Jesus Christ, who was sinless, died for sinful humanity and made satisfaction for humanity's debt to God. Anselm believed that reason supports faith, and that faith seeks understanding. He stated, “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.” He was canonized in 1494. Anselm is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Apr. 21.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.