Anselm of Canterbury, Saint

Anselm of Canterbury, Saint

biographical name

(born 1033/34, Aosta, Lombardy—died April 21, 1109, possibly at Canterbury, Kent, Eng.; feast day April 21) Founder of Scholasticism. Anselm entered the Benedictine monastery at Bec (in Normandy) in 1057 and became abbot in 1078. In 1077 he wrote the Monologium to demonstrate God's existence and attributes by reason alone. He then wrote Proslogium, which established the ontological argument for the existence of God. In 1093, he became archbishop of Canterbury and soon became involved in disputes with William II over the independence of the church and the right to appeal to the pope, arguments that led to Anselm's exile. Although invited back by Henry I, Anselm again argued with the king over lay investiture (see Investiture Controversy). In 1099 he completed Cur Deus homo? (“Why Did God Become Man?”), which provided a new understanding of Jesus' redemption of humankind and revealed the increasing focus on the humanity of Jesus. Anselm was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1720.

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