Triptyque de Saint Anselme, Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec
Saint Anselme, évêque et docteur de l'Église
Anselme (1033-1109) naquit dans la Val d'Aoste, il fut moine au Bec en Normandie, puis archevêque de Cantorbéry, vingt ans après le martyre de Thomas Becket. Toute sa vie consista dans une recherche ardente de Dieu, l'Etre parfait, à la lumière de l'intelligence et de la foi. Mais ce contemplatif sut aussi se battre pour défendre la liberté de l'Église.
Saint Anselme de Cantorbéry
Archevêque, docteur de l'Église (+ 1109)
Originaire du Val d'Aoste, il veut se faire moine alors qu'il a 15 ans. Mais son adolescence le fait changer d'avis: la vie mondaine lui semble plus amusante et attirante, plaisant à tous et à toutes. A la mort de sa mère, il quitte son père dont le caractère était invivable et gagne la France "à la recherche du plaisir". Ce qui ne l'empêche pas de poursuivre en même temps ses études. Et c'est ainsi qu'à 27 ans sa vocation de jeunesse se réveillera à l'abbaye du Bec en Normandie où il était venu simplement pour étudier, attiré par la renommée de cette école dirigée par Lanfranc. A peine moine profès, le voilà choisi comme prieur, n'en déplaise aux jaloux. Mais sa douceur gagnera vite les cœurs. Il est élu abbé et mènera de front cette charge et une intense réflexion théologique: selon lui, puisque Dieu est le créateur de la raison, celle-ci, loin de contredire les vérités de la foi, doit pouvoir en rendre compte. A cette époque, des relations étroites existaient entre l'abbaye du Bec et les monastères anglais proches de Cantorbery. En 1093, lors d'une visite de ces monastères, saint Anselme se retrouve élu évêque de Cantorbery. Son attachement à l'indépendance de l'Église contre les prétentions des rois d'Angleterre lui vaudra plusieurs exils. Il aspire à retrouver la paix du cloître, mais le pape ne l'autorise pas à quitter sa charge. C'est donc au milieu des tracas occasionnés par sa réforme de l'Église d'Angleterre qu'il mène à bien l'œuvre théologique qui lui vaudra le titre de "Docteur magnifique".
- Vidéo chronique des saints sur la webTV de la CEF.
Durant l'audience générale du 23 septembre 2009, le Saint-Père a évoqué la figure de saint Anselme, dit d'Aoste, du Bec ou de Canterbury, né à Aoste (Italie) en 1033... Il défendit l'Église anglaise des ingérences politiques des rois Guillaume le Rouge et Henri Ier, ce qui lui coûta d'être exilé en 1103. Anselme consacra les dernières années de sa vie "à la formation morale du clergé et à la recherche théologique", obtenant le titre de Docteur magnifique. "La clarté et la rigueur de sa pensée eurent pour but de porter l'esprit vers la contemplation de Dieu, soulignant que le théologien ne saurait compter sur sa seule intelligence mais devait cultiver une foi profonde". L'activité théologique de saint Anselme "se développa en trois volets: la foi comme don gratuit de Dieu qui doit être accueillie avec humilité, l'expérience qui est l'incarnation de la Parole dans la vie quotidienne, et la connaissance qui n'est pas seulement le fruit de raisonnements mais aussi celui de l'intuition contemplative... Son amour de la vérité et sa soif constante de Dieu...peuvent être pour le chrétien d'aujourd'hui un encouragement à rechercher sans cesse le lien profond qui nous unit au Christ... Le courage dont il fit preuve dans son action pastorale, qui lui causa souvent de l'incompréhension et même d'être exilé, doit inspirer les pasteurs, les consacrés et tous les fidèles dans l'amour de l'Église du Christ". (source: VIS 090923 - 450)
Anselme est né à Aoste en 1033. Éduqué dans la foi et la piété par sa mère, à la mort de celle-ci vit une jeunesse frivole. Bientôt, il se convertit, reprend ses études sous la conduite de Lanfranc, prieur de l'abbaye du Bec. Il choisit alors la vie monastique et reçoit l'habit des mains du bienheureux Herluin, fondateur de cette abbaye, auquel il succèdera en 1078. Il est ensuite appelé au siège épiscopal de Cantorbéry 1093, se trouve en butte à de nombreux débats et tracasseries de la part du roi d'Angleterre.
Il a surtout marqué l'Abbaye du Bec et le diocèse de Cantorbéry par sa foi lucide, son humilité, sa douceur, son esprit de paix et sa tendresse filiale envers la Vierge Marie.
L'Église entière lui doit aussi de remarquables traités de théologie.
Un internaute nous signale:
En 1058 Anselme arrive à Avranches comme enseignant à l'école épiscopale mais surtout comme précepteur du jeune Hugues, fils du vicomte, avec lequel il se lie d'une grande amitié qui durera toute sa vie; Hugues devenu comte de Chester et homme politique, ils seront ensemble influents près du roi notamment pour le mariage écossais d'Henri Ier dont ils sont les auteurs.
Mémoire de saint Anselme, évêque et docteur de l'Église. D'Aoste où il est né, devenu moine puis abbé du Bec en Normandie, il enseigna à ses frères à avancer sur le chemin de la perfection et à chercher Dieu par l'intelligence de la foi. Promu ensuite au siège illustre de Cantorbéry, en Angleterre, il lutta fermement pour la liberté de l'Église et souffrit pour cela des temps d'exil. Il mourut enfin dans son Église, le mercredi saint de l'année 1109.
Der hl. Anselm übergibt Mathilde sein Werk. Anselm von Canterbury, Orationes, Diözese Salzburg, um 1160. Admont, Stiftsbibliothek, Ms. 289, fol. 1v., circa 1160
SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_anselme.html
À NOS VÉNÉRABLES FRÈRES, LES PATRIARCHES, PRIMATS, ARCHEVÊQUES, ÉVÊQUES ET AUTRES ORDINAIRES DE LIEUX AYANT PAIX ET COMMUNION AVEC LE SIÈGE APOSTOLIQUE.
PIE X, PAPE
Vénérables Frères, Salut et Bénédiction Apostolique.
Au milieu des tristes vicissitudes des affaires ordinaires, auxquelles se sont ajoutées dernièrement des afflictions domestiques qui accablent notre âme de douleur, c’est pour nous un sujet de consolation et de réconfort que ce concert récent de piété filiale de tout le peuple chrétien, qui ne cesse pas d’être encore « un spectacle pour le monde, pour les anges et pour les hommes (1) » ; l’état des maux présents l’a, sans doute, excitée, mais, en définitive, elle dérive toujours de la même cause, à savoir la charité de Nôtre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ. Car, en effet, comme aucune vertu digne de ce nom ne peut exister sur la terre que par Jésus-Christ, c’est à lui seul qu’il faut rapporter les fruits qui en découlent parmi les hommes, même parmi ceux dont la foi est relâchée ou même qui sont hostiles à la religion, car, s’il reste encore en eux quelque vestige de la vraie charité, c’est un effet de cette civilisation apportée par le Christ qu’ils n’ont pu abolir entièrement ni extirper de la société chrétienne.
Les paroles nous manquent, au milieu de notre émotion, pour exprimer nos sentiments de reconnaissance envers ceux qui cherchent avec tant de zèle à procurer des consolations au Père et de l’aide à leurs frères dans les tribulations générales et privées. Que si déjà nous la leur avons témoignée en particulier, nous n’avons pas voulu tarder à nous acquitter publiquement de ce devoir de gratitude, d’abord auprès de vous, vénérables Frères, et par vous, auprès de tous les fidèles, quels qu’ils soient, confiés à votre sollicitude.
Mais il nous plaît aussi de témoigner en public notre reconnaissance à ces fils bien-aimés qui, de toutes les parties de la terre, ont accompagné de tant et de si hauts témoignages d’amour et d’attachement la célébration du cinquantième anniversaire de notre sacerdoce. Ces tributs d’affection nous ont moins réjoui pour nous-même que pour la religion et pour l’Eglise, car ils étaient la preuve d’une foi intrépide et comme une manifestation publique de l’honneur dû au Christ et à l’Eglise, en raison des hommages rendus à celui que le Seigneur a voulu placer à la tête de sa famille.
Mais d’autres fruits encore nous ont procuré, sous ce rapport, une grande joie. Car les fêtes célébrées à l’occasion du centième anniversaire de l’établissement des diocèses de l’Amérique du Nord ont donné l’occasion de rendre d’immortelles actions de grâces à Dieu, en raison du grand nombre de fils apportés à l’Eglise catholique. De son côté, la très noble Angleterre a donné le spectacle d’honneurs extraordinaires rendus chez elle à la très Sainte Eucharistie, au milieu d’une couronne d’évêques, nos vénérables frères, en présence de notre légat et avec le concours d’un peuple immense. Et en France aussi, l’Eglise affligée a séché ses larmes en contemplant les splendides triomphes de l’Auguste Sacrement, à Lourdes, en particulier, où nous avons eu la joie de voir fêter solennellement le cinquantième anniversaire de sa célébrité. De ces faits et des autres que les ennemis du nom catholique apprennent que toutes ces solennités extraordinaires, ce culte rendu à l’auguste Mère de Dieu, les honneurs eux-mêmes que l’on a coutume de rendre au Souverain Pontife tendent en dernier lieu à ce que le Christ soit tout et en tous (2), et enfin à ce que, par l’établissement du règne de Dieu sur la terre, le salut éternel des hommes soit assuré.
Le triomphe divin qu’il faut attendre et sur les individus et sur la société humaine tout entière n’est pas autre chose que le retour des égarés à Dieu par le Christ, et au Christ par son Eglise, et tel est le but que nous nous proposons, comme nous l’avons publiquement indiqué dans nos premières lettres apostoliques E. Supremi Apostolatus cathedra (3) et bien d’autres fois. Ce retour, nous l’espérons avec confiance ; toutes nos pensées et tous nos désirs y tendent comme au port, où les tempêtes de la vie présente elle-même doivent s’apaiser. Et c’est dans ce sentiment aussi qu’en voyant dans les honneurs publics rendus à l’Eglise comme un signe de ce retour, favorisé de Dieu, des nations au Christ et d’un attachement plus étroit à Pierre et à l’Eglise, nous acceptions avec reconnaissance et joie les hommages rendus à notre humble personne.
Cet attachement affectueux au siège apostolique, qui ne s’est pas montré toujours et partout de la même manière, semble, par un dessein de la divine Providence, être devenu d’autant plus étroit que les temps, comme ceux où nous sommes, sont plus mauvais et plus contraires soit à la saine doctrine, soit à la sainte discipline, soit à la liberté de l’Eglise. Les saints ont donné particulièrement des exemples de cette union lorsque le troupeau du Christ était troublé, ou lorsque l’époque était plus dissolue : à ces maux Dieu a providentiellement opposé leur vertu et leur sagesse. Parmi eux, il nous plaît d’en rappeler un seulement dans ces lettres, en raison des solennités dont il est l’objet à l’occasion du huitième centenaire de sa mort. Nous voulons parler du saint docteur Augustin Anselme, ce maître si autorisé de la vérité catholique, ce défenseur si zélé des droits sacrés, aussi bien quand il était moine et abbé en France, que sacrés, il était archevêque de Cantorbéry et primat d’Angleterre. Et il ne nous paraît pas hors de propos, après les magnifiques solennités célébrées en l’honneur de Grégoire le Grand et de Jean Chrysostome, ces deux lumières, l’un de l’Eglise Occidentale, l’autre de l’Eglise Orientale, de contempler un autre astre qui, bien que « différent des autres en clarté (4) », en marchant sur leurs traces, n’a pas projeté un éclat moindre d’exemples et de doctrine, et l’on pourrait même dire, en quelque sorte, plus puissant, parce que Anselme est plus près de nous par l’âge, le lieu, la manière d’être, les études, et que tout en lui se rapproche plus des temps où nous vivons, soit le genre de luttes qu’il eut à soutenir, soit la forme d’action pastorale qu’il a mise en usage, soit la manière d’enseigner établie par lui ou par ses disciples et accréditée surtout pas ses écrits d’où a été tirée « la méthode de défense de la religion chrétienne et d’instruction des âmes, qui a été celle de tous les théologiens qui ont enseigné les Saintes Lettres d’après la méthode scolastique (5) ». Et ainsi, de même dans l’obscurité de la nuit, quand des astres se couchent, d’autres se lèvent pour éclairer le monde, de même pour illuminer l’Eglise, aux pères succèdent les fils, parmi lesquels a brillé comme un astre éclatant le bienheureux Anselme.
Et, en vérité, au milieu des ténèbres de son temps, enlacé dans un réseau de vices et d’erreurs, il a paru, aux yeux des meilleurs juges, surpasser en éclat ses pairs par la splendeur de sa doctrine et de sa sainteté. Il fut, en effet, pour eux, « le prince de la foi et l’ornement de l’Eglise., la gloire de l’épiscopat, celui qui l’emporta sur les hommes les plus éminents de son temps (6) ». Il fut aussi « le sage et le bon, l’orateur éclatant, le brillant génie (7) », dont la renommée s’étendit au point qu’on put croire avec raison de lui qu’il ne se serait trouvé personne sur la terre pour vouloir dire : « Anselme m’est inférieur ou seulement mon égal (8). » Et pour cela, il fut considéré des rois, des princes, des Souverains Pontifes. Et non seulement il était cher à ses confrères et au peuple fidèle, « mais à ses ennemis eux-mêmes (9) ». Simple abbé encore, il reçut des lettres pleines d’estime et de bienveillance de ce grand et vaillant Pontife Grégoire VII, « qui se recommandait ainsi que l’Eglise catholique à ses prières 110) ». À lui aussi Urbain II « décernera la palme de la religion et de la science (11) ». Dans plusieurs lettres des plus affectueuses, Pascal II exalta « sa piété, sa foi puissante, son zèle instant (12) », toujours disposé, en raison de l’autorité particulière de sa religion et de sa sagesse, à accéder aux demandes de sa fraternité, et n’hésitant pas à le proclamer le plus sage et le plus religieux des évêques d’Angleterre.
Pour lui, cependant, il ne se considérait que comme un être misérable, un pauvre petit personnage ignoré, un homme de minime science, un pêcheur dans sa vie. Mais, tout en ayant de si bas sentiments de lui-même, il ne s’en élevait pas moins haut contre les pensées et les jugements des hommes dépravés par les mauvaises mœurs et les fausses doctrines, dont la sainte écriture a dit : « L’homme animal ne comprend pas les choses de l’esprit de Dieu (13). » Mais ce qu’il y a de plus admirable, c’est que sa grandeur d’âme et son invincible fermeté, mise à l’épreuve de tant de tracasseries, de persécutions et d’expulsions, s’alliait chez lui à une telle douceur et aménité qu’il brisait la colère de ceux qui s’emportaient le plus contre lui et se conciliait leur bienveillance. Et ainsi ceux qui avaient à souffrir à cause de lui le louaient de ce qu’il était bon (14).
Il y avait en lui une admirable harmonie et convenance des qualités que la plupart des hommes croient, à tort, ne pas pouvoir s’accorder entre elles et même se combattre mutuellement : ainsi la grandeur unie à la candeur, la modestie jointe au talent, la douceur avec la force, la piété et la science, qui s’alliaient si bien en lui que, dans toute sa vie, comme à l’époque de son noviciat dans son institut religieux, « il parut à tous un admirable modèle de sainteté et de doctrine (15) ».
Et ce double mérite d’Anselme ne resta pas confiné dans les murs d’une maison ou dans les limites d’un magister, mais, comme s’élançant d’une tente de soldat, il se produisit au soleil et à la poussière. Etant venu dans les temps dont nous avons parlé, il eut à combattre terriblement pour la justice et la vérité.
Et lui qui était porté, par sa nature, aux études contemplatives, il se trouva engagé dans les plus nombreuses et les plus difficiles affaires, et, ayant embrassé la sainte milice, il tomba en pleine bataille et dans la mêlée la plus âpre. Doux et paisible comme il était naturellement, il fut obligé, pour la défense de la doctrine et du droit de l’Eglise, d’abandonner le charme d’une vie tranquille, de renoncer à l’amitié et à la faveur des grands, de rompre les doux liens qui l’unissaient à ses confrères dans sa famille religieuse et aux évêques compagnons de ses travaux, pour s’engager dans les luttes quotidiennes et s’exposer à tous les genres d’épreuves. Il trouva, en effet, l’Angleterre en proie aux passions et aux crises, et il lui fallut combattre à la fois les rois et les princes, de qui dépendaient les Eglises et auxquels on avait laissé le sort des peuples, les ministres du culte lâches ou indignes de leur saint ministère, les grands et le peuple ignorants de tout et adonnés à tous les vices, et cela, avec une ardeur qui ne défaillit jamais dans la défense de la foi, des mœurs, de la discipline et de l’immunité ecclésiastiques, au point d’être vraiment le rempart de la doctrine et de la sainteté, digne à tous égards de cet autre éloge que fit de lui le pape Pascal nommé plus haut : « Nous rendons grâces à Dieu de ce qu’en toi l’autorité épiscopale vit toujours et que, placé au milieu de barbares, rien, ni la violence des tyrans, ni la faveur des puissants, ni la menace du feu, ni la contrainte militaire, ne t’empêche de proclamer la vérité » ; et, ailleurs : « Nous exultons de joie, parce que, la grâce de Dieu aidant, ni les menaces ne t’ébranlent, ni les promesses ne te séduisent (16) ».
De tout cela, vénérables Frères, à nous, comme à notre prédécesseur Pascal, il nous est permis, au bout de huit siècles, de nous réjouir encore et de faire écho à sa voix, en rendant grâces à Dieu. Mais il nos plaît également de vous inviter aussi à contempler cette lumière de sainteté et de doctrine qui s’est levée en Italie, a brillé pendant plus de trente ans en France, plus de quinze en Angleterre, et a été pour l’Eglise universelle enfin un secours et un ornement.
Que si Anselme a excellé en œuvres et en paroles, c’est-à-dire, si par l’emploi de sa vie et de sa doctrine, si par sa puissance de méditation et d’action, si en combattant avec force et en tendant avec douceur à la paix il a remporté pour l’Eglise de splendides triomphes et a procuré à la société civile d’insignes bienfaits, tout cela est à imiter en lui, puisque, dans tout le cours de sa vie et l’exercice de son ministère, il s’est toujours tenu fermement uni au Christ et à l’Eglise.
En ayant soin de nous inculquer dans l’esprit ses exemples, à l’occasion de la commémoration solennelle de ce grand Docteur, nous aurons de quoi, vénérables Frères, amplement admirer et imiter. De cette contemplation, résultera surtout un accroissement de force et d’encouragement pour remplir courageusement les fonctions, souvent si ardues et si pleines de soucis du saint ministère, pour travailler ardemment à tout restaurer dans le Christ « pour que le Christ soit formé en tous (17) » et principalement en ceux qui s’élèvent pour l’espoir du sacerdoce, pour défendre fermement le magistère de l’Eglise, et lutter énergiquement pour la liberté de l’épouse du Christ, pour la sauvegarde des droits d’institution divine et enfin pour tout ce qui importe à la défense du Souverain Pontificat.
Car vous n’ignorez pas, vénérables Frères, après toutes les occasions que vous avez eues d’en gémir avec nous, à quels temps malheureux nous sommes arrivés et combien est triste l’état de choses présent, et à l’indicible douleur causée en nous par les maux publics s’est ajoutée la cruelle blessure que nous avons ressentie des divers attentats commis contre le clergé, et aussi les empêchements apportés à l’administration des secours de l’Eglise à ses enfants malheureux, au mépris de ses droits maternels de soins et de sollicitudes envers eux. Nous en passons beaucoup d’autres sous silence, de ceux qui ont été perfidement ou astucieusement ourdis pour la perle de l’Eglise, ou audacieusement accomplis, en violation du droit public et au mépris de toute loi naturelle d’équité et de justice.
Et ce qui est plus grave, c’est que de tels attentats ont été commis dans les pays sur lesquels les bienfaits de la civilisation ont été répandus le plus abondamment par l’Eglise. Qu’y a-t-il, en effet, de plus cruel que de voir des fils que l’Eglise a nourris comme ses aînés et qu’elle a élevés dans sa fleur et dans sa force ne pas hésiter à tourner leurs coups contre le sein de la mère la plus aimante ?
Et la condition des autres pays n’est guère faite non plus pour nous consoler, car, si la forme d’hostilité est différente, c’est la même haine qui s’exerce déjà ou qui s’apprête à sortir bientôt de l’ombre des complots ténébreux. Car tel est le but suprême chez les nations ou les bienfaits de la religion chrétienne se sont fait le plus sentir : dépouiller l’Eglise de tous ses droits et en agir avec elle comme si elle n’était pas, en droit et par elle- même, une société parfaite, ainsi que l’a instituée le divin réparateur de notre humanité ; abolir son règne qui, tout en s’appliquant surtout et directement aux âmes, ne tend pas moins à la conservation du bien social qu’au salut éternel des hommes, tout disposer, enfin, pour que, sous le nom menteur de liberté, règne une licence effrénée à la place de l’autorité de Dieu. Et pendant qu’ils travaillent à établir, par le règne des vices et des passions, une servitude universelle et à précipiter la société à une catastrophe « car le péché fait le malheur des peuples (18) », ils ne cessent de crier : « Nous ne voulons pas que celui-là règne sur nous (19) ». De là, la proscription des ordres religieux, qui ont toujours été d’un si grand secours et d’un si grand ornement pour l’Eglise et qui ont été les principaux promoteurs de la civilisation et de la science parmi les nations barbares et ses propagateurs les plus zélés chez les peuples cultivés ; de là, la destruction ou la spoliation des instituts de charité chrétienne ; de là, le mépris affiché du clergé, à qui l’on fait une telle opposition que son action en est contrariée ou à qui l’on interdit ou l’on limite tout ministère public, ou à qui on ne laisse aucune part dans l’éducation de la jeunesse ; de là, toute action chrétienne d’utilité publique empêchée ; les hommes les plus distingués qui font profession de la foi catholique écartés des fonctions ou comptés pour rien, injuriés incessamment, traqués comme une espèce inférieure et abjecte et plus ou moins près de voir le jour où, par l’aggravation des lois hostiles, il ne leur sera même plus permis de s’occuper de rien de ce qui constitue l’action publique.
Et cependant, les auteurs de cette guerre si acharnée et si perfide s’en vont disant qu’ils ne sont inspirés d’aucun autre motif que du culte de la liberté et du zèle du progrès et même de l’amour de la patrie, et en cela ils mentent comme leur père, qui fut « homicide dès le commencement » et qui, « lorsqu’il ment, parle de son propre fond, parce qu’il est menteur (20) », et animé d’une haine inextinguible contre Dieu et l’espèce humaine. Hommes impudents qui s’efforcent de donner des prétextes et de dresser des pièges aux oreilles étourdies. Car ce n’est ni le doux amour de la patrie, ni le souci du peuple ni aucun motif de bien et d’honnête qui les pousse à cette guerre impie, mais uniquement leur fureur insensée contre Dieu et contre l’Eglise, son œuvre admirable. De cette haine délibérée, comme d’une source empoisonnée, découlent ces projets scélérats qui tendent à opprimer l’Eglise et à l’exclure de la société humaine ; de là, ces voix grossières qui proclament à l’envi qu’elle est morte, quand on ne cesse cependant de la combattre, et même quand on en arrive à ce point d’audace et de folie de l’accuser, après qu’on l’a dépouillée de toute liberté, de ne servir de rien pour l’humanité et de n’être d’aucune utilité pour l’Etat. C’est le même esprit d’hostilité qui fait que les mêmes hommes dissimulent perfidement ou passent sous silence les bienfaits les plus certains de l’Eglise et du siège apostolique et même qu’ils saisissent toute occasion de jeter habilement sur elle le soupçon et la défiance dans l’esprit et les oreilles de la multitude, en faussant tous les actes et toutes les paroles de l’Eglise et en les interprétant comme autant de dangers pour la société, alors qu’on ne saurait douter, au contraire, que les progrès de la liberté et de la civilisation émanent principalement de Jésus-Christ par son Eglise.
Très souvent, Vénérables Frères, mais surtout dans notre allocution prononcée au Consistoire du 16 décembre 1907, nous vous avons exhortés à la plus soigneuse vigilance contre les menaces de cette guerre conduite par l’ennemi du dehors, que nous voyons, ici, en lutte ouverte, et comme en bataille rangée, ailleurs par des ruses insidieuses et à force de retranchements, mais partout, de quelque manière, livrer des assauts à l’Eglise.
Mais il est une guerre d’un autre genre, une guerre intestine, domestique, et d’autant plus funeste qu’elle apparaît moins au dehors, qu’il nous faut dénoncer et réprimer avec non moins de décision qu’elle nous occasionne de douleur. Celle-là a été machinée par quelques fils de perdition qui se tiennent cachés dans le sein même de l’Eglise pour la mieux pouvoir déchirer, et dont les coups, portés avec une détermination délibérée et raisonnée, frappent l’Eglise dans son âme, ainsi qu’un tronc dans sa racine.
Ce que se proposent ceux-ci, c’est de troubler les sources mêmes de la vie et de la doctrine chrétiennes ; de réduire en lambeaux le dépôt sacré de la foi ; de saper dans ses fondements l’institution divine en livrant au mépris le magistère pontifical et l’autorité des évêques ; d’assigner à l’Eglise une forme nouvelle, des lois nouvelles, un droit nouveau, au gré et à l’image monstrueuse des opinions mauvaises qu’ils professent ; enfin de déformer toute la face de l’Epouse de Dieu, au nom – tant ils sont fascinés par la vaine splendeur d’une culture ultra-moderne – au nom d’une fausse science dont l’apôtre, à plusieurs reprises, nous ordonne de nous garder en nous disant : Veillez que personne ne vous trompe par la philosophie et par d’inconsistantes faussetés selon l’opinion des hommes, selon les éléments du monde et non selon le Christ (21).
Séduits par cette apparence de philosophie et par cette contrefaçon vaine d’érudition, portée à l’ostentation et jointe à une audace de jugement excessive, plusieurs se sont évanouis dans leurs pensées (22), et, repoussant la bonne conscience, ont fait naufrage quant à la foi (23) ; d’autres, tiraillés en tous sens par d’inconciliables idées, sont comme écrasés sous les flots des opinions contradictoires et ne savent plus vers quel rivage chercher refuge ; d’autres encore, abusant des loisirs qu’ils se font et des études, s’acharnent, par un vain labeur, à édifier des théories aussi vides que difficiles, ce qui a pour effet de les détourner de l’étude des choses divines et des sources pures de la doctrine. Et, en aucune façon, cette peste pernicieuse, qui doit son nom de modernisme à la fureur de nouveauté malsaine d’où elle est sortie, encore qu’elle ait été dénoncée plusieurs fois et que l’intempérance de ses propres fauteurs l’ait dépouillée de tous ses voiles, ne cesse pas de faire de graves torts à la chrétienté. Ce poison se cache partout, dans les veines et dans les organes de la société actuelle, qui a cessé de connaitre le Christ et l’Eglise ; mais il se propage surtout, comme un ulcère, dans la jeunesse en formation, qui n’a nulle expérience des choses et dont l’esprit est plein de témérité.
La raison pour laquelle les choses en sont venues là, ce n’est pas que ces hommes jouissent d’une doctrine solide ni distinguée ; car il ne saurait y avoir aucune véritable dissension entre la raison et la foi (24). La vraie cause, c’est que ces hommes ont d’eux-mêmes un sentiment exagéré, et qu’ils s’admirent ; c’est qu’ils vivent sous un ciel devenu comme impur, dans un air lourd où ne circule que le vent pestifère du temps ; c’est que la connaissance qu’ils ont des choses sacrées, connaissance ou bien nulle ou bien confuse et mélangée, se joint en eux à un orgueil qui ressemble à de la folie. La contagion de cette misère est grandement favorisée par la disparition de la foi en Dieu et par l’éloignement où l’on se tient de lui. Et, en effet, ceux que cette passion aveugle de nouveautés pousse à l’aventure devant eux, s’imaginent facilement avoir assez de force pour, soit ouvertement, soit avec des dissimulations, secouer le joug de l’autorité divine, et se faire à eux-mêmes une religion comme circonscrite dans les limites de la nature et accommodée à l’esprit de chacun d’eux ; religion qui emprunte le nom et l’apparence de la religion chrétienne, mais qui, en réalité, est aussi éloignée que possible de la vie et de la vérité qui se trouvent dans celle-ci.
Ainsi, les guerres nouvelles contre toutes les choses divines sont une continuation de la guerre éternelle ; la façon de combattre seule a été changée ; et cela, d’autant plus dangereusement que sont plus adroites les armes de la piété simulée, de la candeur jouée, et de l’âpre volonté qu’emploient les factieux à unir les choses les plus contraires qui puissent être, à savoir, les délires de la faible science humaine et la foi divine, l’esprit incertain de ce siècle et la constance et la dignité de l’Eglise.
Ces choses, Vénérables Frères, vous vous en plaignez avec nous ; mais vous ne perdez pas pour cela tout courage, ni n’abandonnez tout espoir. Vous savez, en effet, quelles terribles luttes les âges anciens ont livrées à la chrétienté, encore qu’elles ne fussent pas semblables à celle qu’on lui livre aujourd’hui. Et sur ce point, il vous plaira de vous reporter d’esprit et de cœur aux temps où vécut saint Anselme, temps qui furent des plus difficiles, ainsi que l’histoire nous l’apprend. Il fallut, à cette époque, combattre pour l’autel et pour le foyer, c’est-à-dire pour la sainteté du droit public, pour la liberté, pour l’humanité et pour la doctrine, toutes choses dont la protection était commise à l’Eglise seule ; il fallut résister à la violence des princes, qui confondaient communément le droit sacré et le profane ; il fallut extirper les vices, cultiver les intelligences, ramener à la politesse et à la civilisation les hommes qui n’avaient pas encore oublié la vieille barbarie ; il fallut diriger le clergé, dont une partie n’agissait pas assez ou agissait sans discrétion, et dont plusieurs de ses membres, livrés à de basses intrigues, se soumettaient trop souvent, corps et âme, à la domination des princes dont le caprice les appelait aux dignités.
Tel était l’état des choses, surtout dans ces contrées dans lesquelles Anselme appliqua son zèle secourable et sa sollicitude, soit qu’il enseignât comme docteur, soit qu’il donnât l’exemple de la vie religieuse, soit que, comme archevêque et comme primat, il se multipliât en industries et fît porter sur tout sa vigilance infatigable. Les provinces des Gaules et les îles Britanniques, les premières soumises, peu de siècles plus tôt à la domination normande, les autres reçues depuis peu dans le sein de la sainte Eglise éprouvèrent surtout les effets de sa bienfaisance. L’un et l’autre de ces deux peuples, agités à l’intérieur par des séditions incessantes, et harcelés, en plus, par des guerres étrangères, s’étaient, par suite de ces causes, relâchés de la discipline des princes aux sujets et du clergé au peuple.
Les plus grands hommes de cette époque, au nombre desquels Lanfranc, le vieux maître d’Anselme lui-même et son prédécesseur au siège de Cantorbéry, n’ont pas cessé de se répandre en plaintes amères sur ces désordres. Mais surtout, il en fut ainsi des pontifes romains, dont il nous suffira de citer par son nom un seul, homme d’une force d’âme invincible, défenseur intrépide de la justice, protecteur constant des droits et de la liberté de l’Eglise, gardien très attentif et au besoin vengeur de la discipline du clergé. C’est à savoir Grégoire VII.
Imitateur zélé des exemples de ces grands hommes, Anselme, laissant un libre cours à sa douleur, écrivait à un prince, souverain de sa propre nation, qui avait coutume de se glorifier de lui être uni à la fois par les liens de la parenté et par ceux de l’amitié, ces paroles qui semblent des cris : « Vous voyez, mon très cher Seigneur, de quelle façon notre mère l’Eglise de Dieu, que Dieu nomme sa tendre amie et son épouse bien-aimée, est foulée aux pieds par les mauvais princes ; comment, pour leur éternelle damnation, elle est jetée dans la tribulation par ceux-là mêmes à qui elle a été confiée par Dieu comme à des avocats chargés de sa défense ; avec quelle présomption ils ont usurpé ses biens pour les réduire à leur usage personnel ; avec quelle cruauté ils changent en servitude sa liberté; avec quelle impiété ils méprisent et dissipent sa loi et ses enseignements. Dédaignant d’obéir aux décrets du Pontife apostolique, promulgués pour garder sa force à la religion chrétienne, ils se rebellent contre l’apôtre Pierre, dont ce Pontife tient la place, et contre le Christ lui-même, qui a confié l’Eglise à Pierre… Tous ceux qui ne veulent pas se soumettre à la loi de Dieu doivent être réputés. sans aucun doute possible, comme les ennemis de Dieu » (25).
C’est ainsi que parlait Anselme, et il serait à souhaiter que ses paroles eussent été reçues pieusement non seulement par le prince et par ceux qui lui succédèrent, mais encore par d’autres rois et d’autres peuples qu’il embrassa d’un tel amour, qu’il entoura de tant de sollicitude et qu’il combla de tant de bienfaits.
Les tempêtes de persécution, les spoliations, les exils, les vexations de toutes sortes qui furent dirigées contre lui, particulièrement dans l’exercice de sa charge épiscopale, n’énervèrent pas sa vertu, ne le détachèrent pas de l’étroite union qui le liait à son Eglise et au Saint-Siège apostolique. Au contraire, il s’y attachait plus étroitement que jamais. C’est ainsi qu’abreuvé d’angoisses, tiraillé par toutes sortes de soucis, il écrivait à notre prédécesseur le pape Pascal, que nous avons déjà nommé : Je ne crains ni l’exil, ni la pauvreté, ni les tortures, ni la mort, parce que, par la grâce réconfortante de Dieu, mon cœur est préparé à tout pour l’obéissance au Saint-Siège apostolique et pour la liberté de ma mère l’Eglise du Christ » (26).
S’il cherche une protection, une aide et un refuge auprès de la Chaire de Pierre, c’est, écrit-il, pour que jamais la fermeté de la discipline ecclésiastique et de l’autorité apostolique ne soit, en aucune manière, affaiblie ni par lui, ni à propos de lui.
Il s’en explique ainsi dans les lettres qu’il envoie à deux illustres chefs de l’Eglise Romaine. Et il en donne cette raison, dans laquelle nous apparaît dans toute sa dignité son courage de pasteur fidèle : « Je préfère en effet mourir, et, tant que je vivrai, être en butte à toutes les misères parmi l’exil, que de voir, soit à cause de moi, soit par le fait de mon exemple, l’honneur de l’Eglise de Dieu violé de quelque façon » (27).
Ces trois choses, l’honneur de l’Eglise, sa liberté et son intégrité, sont jour et nuit l’objet que ne perd point de vue l’esprit du Saint ; pour le maintien de ces trois choses, il importune Dieu de ses larmes, de ses prières et de ses sacrifices ; pour leur accroissement, toutes ses forces sont tendues, et il applique à résister à ce qui les met en péril toute l’énergie de sa patience et de sa force ; il emploie à les protéger toute son activité, ses actes, ses écrits, sa voix. C’est à leur défense qu’il convie les religieux ses frères, les évêques, le clergé et le peuple fidèle, par des exhortations sans fin, douces et fortes, qu’il fait plus sévères pour les princes qui, pour leur grand malheur et pour celui de leurs sujets, méconnaissent les droits de la liberté de l’Eglise.
Ces nobles cris pour la liberté de l’Eglise s’adaptent bien au présent ; et ils sont bien dignes de ceux que le Saint-Esprit a placés, en qualité d’évêques, pour gouverner l’Eglise de Dieu (28).
Ils ne manquent point d’efficace, même quand, par suite de la ruine de la foi, des mœurs, de la dissolution d’opinions erronées, et l’opposition de préjugés malfaisants, ils sont reçus par des oreilles qui ne veulent pas les entendre. C’est à nous, Vénérables Frères, à nous surtout, vous le savez, que s’adresse cet avis divin : Crie, ne cesse pas, élève la voix comme le son de la trompette (29) ; et cela nous est dit surtout quand le Très-Haut
a fait entendre sa propre voix (30), dans le frémissement de la nature entière et dans de terrifiques calamités ; sa voix qui ébranle la terre ; sa voix dont les éclats, importuns à nos oreilles d’hommes, nous disent et nous redisent très haut que ce qui n’est pas éternel n’est que néant ; que nous n’avons pas ici-bas une demeure permanente, mais que nous en cherchons une future (31) ; sa voix, voix de justice autant que de miséricorde, qui rappelle au sentier du bien et du droit les peuples perdus.
Dans ces infortunes publiques, Notre devoir est de parler plus haut encore et d’enseigner les graves vérités de Dieu non pas seulement aux petits, mais aux plus grands, à ceux qui vivent heureux, aux arbitres des Nations, et à ceux qui sont appelés au gouvernement des Etats ; de leur notifier ces sentences d’une fermeté inébranlable, dont l’Histoire si souvent a confirmé la vérité dans des pages écrites par du sang, et dont voici quelques exemples : le péché rend les peuples malheureux (32) ; les puissants seront tourmentés puissamment (33) ; –et celui-ci encore, qui est tiré du psaume II : Et maintenant, rois, comprenez ; instruisez-vous, vous qui jugez la terre. Appréhendez la discipline, de peur que le Seigneur ne s’irrite contre vous et que vous ne veniez périr hors de la voie juste. De ces menaces, l’accomplissement le plus rigoureux est à craindre, lorsque l’iniquité publique s’aggrave, lorsque ceux qui dirigent et le reste des citoyens commettent ce crime d’entre les crimes, de chasser Dieu d’entre eux et de méconnaître l’Eglise : car de cette double apostasie résulte la perturbation de toutes choses et une moisson infinie de misères tant pour les individus que pour la société entière.
Que si, comme il n’est pas rare qu’il arrive, même chez les bons, il peut nous arriver de nous rendre complice de tels crimes en nous taisant ou en les acceptant, il faut que les pasteurs sacrés regardent, chacun à part soi, comme ayant été dit pour eux, et qu’ils rappellent à l’occasion aux autres, ce qu’Anselmeécrivait au très puissant prince de Flandre : « Je vous prie, je vous supplie, je vous avertis, je vous conseille, mon seigneur, comme un ami fidèle de votre âme qui vous aime vraiment en Dieu, de ne jamais penser que vous amoindrissez la dignité de vôtre puissance lorsque vous défendez par amour la liberté de l’épouse de Dieu et de votre mère l’Eglise ; ne croyez pas que vous vous diminuez en l’exaltant, ne croyez pas vous affaiblir alors que vous la fortifiez. Voyez, considérez autour de vous; les exemples s’offrent à vous; considérez les princes qui l’attaquent et la foulent aux pieds. A quoi cela leur sert-il; où en arrivent-ils ? La réponse est assez patente, et n’a pas besoin d’être faite (34). »
La même chose est exprimée d’une façon plus éloquente, avec une force et une douceur de mots toujours égale, dans ce qu’Anselme écrivit à Baudoin, roi de Jérusalem : « C’est comme un très fidèle ami que je vous en prie, que je vous en avertis, que je vous en supplie, et que je le demande à Dieu pour vous : vivez comme sous la loi de Dieu, soumettant votre volonté en toutes choses à celle de Dieu. Ne croyez pas, comme plusieurs mauvais rois, que l’Eglise de Dieu vous a été livrée ainsi qu’un esclave à son maître, sachez qu’elle vous est confiée comme à un avocat et à un défenseur. Dieu n’a rien de plus cher en ce monde que la liberté de son Eglise. Ceux qui veulent la dominer plutôt que la servir prouvent ainsi manifestement qu’ils sont les adversaires de Dieu. Dieu veut que son épouse soit libre, et non au service de personne. Ceux qui la traitent et l’honorent comme leur mère se montrent véritablement ses fils et les fils de Dieu. Quant à ceux qui prétendent la dominer comme si elle leur était soumise, ils se font par cela, non ses fils, mais des étrangers, et c’est pourquoi ils sont justement déshérités des promesses qu’elle a reçues de Dieu en manière de dot (35). »
C’est ainsi que l’amour fervent de ce saint personnage pour l’Eglise jaillissait de son cœur : c’est ainsi qu’éclatait son souci de la liberté dont il désirait la défense, qui est la chose la plus nécessaire dans un gouvernement chrétien, en même temps qu’elle est la plus chère à Dieu même, ainsi que l’éminent docteur l’enseigne dans cette brève et vibrante affirmation : « Dieu n’a rien de plus cher au monde que la liberté de son Eglise. » Et, Vénérables Frères, il n’y a rien non plus par quoi notre pensée et notre sentiment soient exprimés plus clairement que par la répétition de ces paroles que nous venons de rapporter.
Nous nous plaisons aussi à emprunter à saint Anselme les avertissements qu’il adressait aux princes et aux seigneurs. A la reine d’Angleterre, Mathilde, il écrivait : « Si voulez rendre grâce d’une manière qui soit droite, qui soit bonne, qui soit efficace par le fait même, considérez cette reine qu’il a plu à Dieu de se choisir dans ce monde-ci. Oui, considérez-la, vous dis-je, exaltez-la, honorez-la, défendez-la, afin qu’avec elle et en elle, vous plaisiez à Dieu, vous aussi, et que vous régniez avec elle dans l’éternelle béatitude (36). Surtout s’il vous arrive de voir que votre fils s’enfle de sa puissance terrestre, oublieux de cette mère si aimante, ou se rebelle contre son doux empire, gardez ceci dans votre mémoire : c’est à vous qu’il appartient de rappeler souvent, que ce semble opportun ou non, au prince qui vous doit la vie, qu’il a à se conduire non pas comme le seigneur, mais comme l’avocat de l’Eglise, non pas comme son bâtard mais comme son fils légitime (37). »
Il est de notre charge, et il nous sied particulièrement de persuader aux hommes, et de tâcher de graver dans leurs âmes ces autres paroles, si empreintes de sens paternel et de noblesse, écrites encore par saint Anselme : « Si j’entends à propos de vous quelque chose qui déplaît à Dieu et qui ne vous convient pas, et si, en l’apprenant, je néglige de vous avertir, c’est que je ne crains pas Dieu, et que je ne vous aime pas comme je dois (38). » Ainsi, nous-même, s’il vient à notre connaissance que vous traitez les Eglises qui sont dans vos mains autrement qu’il ne faut pour leur bien et celui de vos âmes, alors, imitant saint Anselme, nous devons nous remettre « à vous prier, à vous conseiller, et à vous avertir de ne pas traiter négligemment ces choses, et de vous hâter de corriger ce qui, par votre conscience, vous est montré comme devant être corrigé » (39). Car nous ne devons rien négliger de ce qui peut être corrigé, parce que Dieu demande compte à tous les hommes, non seulement du mal qu’ils font, mais encore des maux qu’ils ne corrigent pas alors qu’ils le pourraient faire. Et plus il leur est donné de puissance pour la réformation, plus strictement aussi Dieu exige d’eux qu’ils veuillent le bien et qu’ils le fassent selon la puissance qu’il leur en a miséricordieusement octroyée. « Si vous ne pouvez pas faire tout à la fois, vous ne devez pas pour cela omettre de vous efforcer d’aller toujours de mieux en mieux; car Dieu a pour coutume de parfaire, dans sa bonté, les bons propos et les bons efforts, et de les rétribuer par une heureuse plénitude (40). »
Ces enseignements, et d’autres du même genre, que saint Anselme a inculqués avec force et avec sagesse aux rois et aux hommes puissants, conviennent aux pasteurs sacrés et aux princes de l’Eglise plus qu’à personne, parce que à eux plus qu’à personne est commise la défense de la vérité, de la justice et de la religion. Les temps nous ont engagés en de nombreuses difficultés, et tant d’embûches nous sont tendues, que c’est à peine si aujourd’hui il nous reste un lieu sûr où nous puissions faire notre devoir. Tandis que les freins sont lâchés à la licence universelle et que règne l’impunité, on s’acharne avec âpreté à tenir l’Eglise enchaînée, et, tandis qu’on conserve encore, ainsi qu’une ironie, le nom de la liberté, toute votre action et celle de votre clergé est entravée de jour en jour par des artifices nouveaux, en sorte qu’il n’est rien d’étonnant à ce que vous ne puissiez pas faire tout à la fois pour ramener les hommes de l’erreur et du vice, pour les retirer de leurs mauvaises habitudes, pour regreffer dans leurs esprits les notions du vrai et du droit, enfin, pour soulager l’Eglise de tant d’angoisses qui l’accablent.
Au surplus, nous avons de quoi soutenir notre courage. Il vit, en effet, le Seigneur, et il fera en sorte qu’à ceux qui aiment Dieu toutes choses convergent en bien (41). Lui-même fera sortir le bien du mal, pour donner à l’Eglise des triomphes d’autant plus splendides que l’humaine perversité se sera obstinée avec plus d’opiniâtreté à ruiner son œuvre ici-bas. Telle est l’admirable grandeur des desseins de la divine Providence ; telles sont, dans l’ordre actuel des choses, ses voies impénétrables (42), mes pensées ne sont pas les vôtres et mes voies ne sont pas vos voies, dit le Seigneur (43), telles sont ses voies et ses pensées, qu’il veut que l’Eglise, de jour en jour, se rapproche davantage de la ressemblance du Christ et se réfère à son image, à lui qui a souffert tant et de si grandes tortures, en sorte que, de quelque manière, elle accomplisse ce qui manque aux souffrances du Christ (44). Et c’est pourquoi cette loi divine a été donnée à l’Église qui milite ici, sur la terre, qu’elle soit perpétuellement éprouvée par des luttes, par des épreuves et des angoisses et qu’elle puisse, par ce mode de vie, à travers de nombreuses tribulations, entrer dans le royaume de Dieu (45), et se réunir enfin, un jour, à l’Église triomphante du Ciel.
Dans cet esprit, Anselme ayant à expliquer ce passage de saint Mathieu: Jésus obligea ses disciples à monter dans la petite barque, s’exprime ainsi, d’après le sens mystique : « l’Evangile décrit ici sommairement la condition de l’Eglise depuis l’avènement du Sauveur jusqu’à la fin du siècle. La barque donc était ballottée par les flots au milieu de la mer, tandis que Jésus s’attardait sur le sommet de la montagne, parce que, du moment où le Sauveur est monté au Ciel, la sainte Eglise a commencé d’être agitée dans ce monde par de grandes tribulations, d’être secouée en tous sens par toutes sortes de tempêtes qui sont celles des persécutions, d’être éprouvée par toutes sortes de vexations que lui inflige la méchanceté des hommes pervers, et d’être, en mille manières, assaillie par les vices humains. Car le vent lui était contraire, en ce sens que le souffle des esprits malins doit s’exercer toujours contre elle pour l’empêcher de parvenir au port du salut, et que le même souffle s’efforce de l’engloutir sous le flot des adversités, en soulevant contre elle tous les obstacles possibles (46). »
C’est donc bien profondément qu’ils se trompent ceux qui s’imaginent que la condition de l’Eglise peut être exempte de toutes ces perturbations et qui espèrent pour elle un état dans lequel, les choses allant à volonté, et rien ne s’opposant ni à l’autorité, ni au gouvernement de la puissance sacrée, il serait possible de jouir d’une tranquillité douce au cœur. Ils se trompent aussi d’ailleurs plus grossièrement que ceux-là, ceux qui, poussés par une fausse et vaine espérance de procurer une pareille paix, dissimulent les devoirs et les droits de l’Eglise, les font passer après les considérations privées, les atténuent, les diminuent injustement aux yeux du monde tout entier soumis au Malin (47), et s’arrangent avec celui-ci, sous le spécieux prétexte de s’attirer les sympathies des fauteurs de nouveautés qu’ils comptent réconcilier avec l’Église, comme si, entre la lumière et les ténèbres et entre le Christ et Bélial, il pouvait y avoir accord. Ce sont là des rêveries de malades, telles qu’on en a toujours aussi vainement caressées et qu’on en caressera encore, tant qu’il y aura de lâches soldats prêts à fuir en jetant leurs armes aussitôt qu’ils voient l’ennemi, ou des traîtres toujours hâtés de traiter avec l’adversaire, c’est-à-dire, dans notre cas, avec l’ennemi acharné et de Dieu et du genre humain.
Il est donc de votre devoir, Vénérables Frères, vous que la divine Providence a constitués les pasteurs et les chefs du peuple chrétien, de tâcher, selon vos forces, que notre âge, si enclin à ce genre de bassesse, cesse dorénavant alors qu’une guerre si cruelle sévit contre la religion de s’endormir dans une honteuse apathie, d’être neutre entre les deux camps, de pervertir les droits divin et humain par de compromettants accommodements, mais retienne, au contraire, profondément gravée au cœur de tous, cette sentence si formelle et si précise du Christ : « Celui qui n’est pas avec moi est contre moi (48). » Ce n’est pas qu’il ne faille que les ministres du Christ soient toujours pleins d’une charité paternelle, eux à qui, entre tous, s’adressent les paroles de Paul : « Je me suis fait tout à tous pour les sauver tous (49) » ; ce n’est pas non plus qu’il ne convienne jamais de céder quelque chose, même de son droit, en tant que cela est permis et utile au salut des âmes ; mais, certes, nul soupçon d’une faute de ce genre ne tombe sur vous, que presse la charité du Christ. Aussi bien, cette condescendance, qui a quelque chose d’équitable, ne mérite en aucune façon le reproche d’être une restriction du Devoir, et elle ne touche en rien du tout au fondement éternel de la Vérité et de la Justice. Il en a été ainsi, d’après ce que nous dit l’histoire, dans la cause d’Anselme ou plutôt dans la cause de Dieu et de l’Eglise pour laquelle, pendant si longtemps, Anselme eut à lutter si âprement. Aussi, lorsque fut apaisé enfin le long conflit; notre prédécesseur Pascal, déjà souvent nommé, rendit hommage au saint évêque par ces paroles : « Que la miséricorde divine ait pris enfin pitié de ce peuple sur qui veille sa sollicitude, nous croyons que cette grâce a été obtenue par la charité pastorale et par l’instance de tes prières. » Ce même Souverain Pontife, parlant de l’indulgence de père avec laquelle il accueillait ceux qui s’étaient rendus coupables, usait des termes suivants : « Si nous avons été aussi condescendant, ça l’a été, sache-le, afin de pouvoir relever par l’effet de cette compassion affectueuse ceux qui étaient tombés. Car, celui qui, étant debout, tend la main, pour le relever, à quelqu’un qui gît devant lui, ne pourra pas le relever, s’il ne se courbe pas lui-même. D’ailleurs, quoique l’inclination du corps puisse sembler proche de la chute, il ne fait pas perdre pourtant l’équilibre à qui est debout (50). » En nous appliquant à nous-mêmes ces paroles dites par notre pieux prédécesseur à saint Anselme pour lui être une consolation, nous ne voulons pas, néanmoins, dissimuler les douloureuses angoisses d’âme par lesquelles les meilleurs même d’entre les pasteurs ont parfois à passer lorsqu’ils se demandent, hésitants, s’il faut, de deux choses l’une, agir avec plus de douceur ou résister avec une fermeté plus constante. De la douleur de ces angoisses, on peut citer en témoignage les craintes, les tremblements, les larmes de très saints hommes, des plus saints hommes, qui avaient le mieux éprouvé combien est lourde la charge du gouvernement des âmes et combien en est grand le danger pour ceux qui l’assument. La vie de saint Anselme en fournit un clair témoignage. Appelé aux plus hautes fonctions, à une époque très difficile, du fond d’une agréable retraite où il vaquait en paix à l’étude et à la prière, il eut à traverser les plus pénibles des épreuves; et, tandis qu’il était harcelé par tant de soucis, il ne craignait rien tant que de n’avoir pas assez fait pour pourvoir au salut de son peuple et au sien, à l’honneur de Dieu et à la dignité de l’Eglise. Rien ne relevait tant son âme aux prises avec ces préoccupations, son âme brisée, endolorie, comme écrasée par le fait de la défection d’un grand nombre de ses amis parmi lesquels plusieurs évêques, rien ne consolait tant son âme que d’avoir placé sa confiance dans le secours de Dieu et d’avoir cherché un refuge dans le sein de la sainte Eglise. C’est pourquoi, sur le point de faire naufrage, et devant l’assaut des tempêtes, il fuyait, écrit-il, « vers le port de la mère Eglise, demandant au Pontife romain un pieux et prompt secours et une consolation » (51).
C’est peut-être par une permission divine qu’un homme d’une sagesse et d’une sainteté aussi singulière fut exposé à tant d’adversité. C’est par toutes les épreuves qu’il a eu à subir qu’il a pu nous être un exemple et un soutien à nous tous qui peinons dans le saint ministère et que nous nous trouvons aux prises avec les pires difficultés, en sorte que chacun de nous peut sentir et vouloir ainsi que sent et veut saint Paul : « Volontiers, je me glorifierai dans mes infirmités afin qu’habite en moi la puissance du Christ. C’est pourquoi je me plais dans mes infirmités, car c’est quand je me sens infirme que je suis fort (52).» Ce qu’écrit saint Anselme à Urbain II n’est pas sans ressembler à ces paroles de l’apôtre : « Saint-Père, lui dit-il, je souffre d’être ce que je suis, je souffre de n’être plus ce que j’ai été. J’ai douleur d’être évêque, parce que, mes péchés l’empêchant je ne m’acquitte pas de mon devoir d’évêque. En lieu humble, je paraissais faire quelque chose ; placé en haut, écrasé sous une charge trop lourde, je ne fais aucun fruit pour moi, ni ne suis utile à personne. Je succombe au fardeau, parce que, plus qu’il ne semblerait croyable, je souffre d’être dépourvu des forces, des vertus, du génie et de la science qu’exigent de si hautes fonctions. J’ai le désir de fuir un office que je ne puis remplir, de me décharger d’un poids que je ne puis porter ; d’autre part, j’ai la crainte, en le faisant, d’offenser Dieu : c’est la crainte de Dieu qui m’a forcé à accepter cette fonction ; c’est la même crainte aujourd’hui qui me contraint à la garder. Maintenant que la volonté de Dieu m’est cachée et que je ne sais pas quoi faire, je vais errant et soupirant et j’ignore la fin qu’il faut donner à ce tourment (53). »
Il plaît à la Bonté divine de ne pas laisser ignorer aux hommes, même d’une sainteté éminente, quelle est leur faiblesse naturelle. Ainsi, s’ils accomplissent quelque chose de grand, tous tiendront pour certain que c’est à la force d’en haut qu’il convient de l’attribuer. Ainsi encore, les hommes sont amenés à suivre avec humilité, et d’un effort plus généreux, l’autorité de l’Eglise. C’est ce qui arriva pour Anselme et d’autres évêques qui, sous la conduite du Saint-Siège, combattirent pour la liberté et pour la doctrine de l’Eglise. Et leur obéissance leur a valu ce fruit, qu’ils sont sortis vainqueurs de la lutte, ayant, par leur exemple, confirmé la divine parole : « L’homme qui obéit parlera de victoire » (54). Une très grande espérance d’obtenir pareille récompense brille aux yeux de tous ceux qui, d’une âme sincère, obéissent à celui qui représente le Christ, en toutes les choses qui se rapportent à la direction des âmes ou à l’administration de la chrétienté, ou qui, d’une façon quelconque, ont rapport à ces grandes fins ; car de l’autorité du Siège apostolique dépendent les directions et les conseils des fils de l’Eglise (55).
Combien saint Anselme excella dans ce genre de gloire ! Avec quelle ardeur, avec quelle fidélité, il se retint toujours uni avec le siège de Pierre, on peut le conclure de ce qu’il écrivait au même pontife Pascal : « De nombreuses et de très graves tribulations de mon cœur, connues de Dieu seul et de moi, attestent le soin avec lequel mon âme observe, selon ses forces, le respect et l’obéissance au siège apostolique. J’espère, en Dieu, que rien ne pourra m’arracher à cette disposition. C’est pourquoi, pour autant qu’il m’est possible, je veux remettre tous mes actes à la disposition de cette autorité afin qu’elle les dirige et, si besoin est, les corrige (56). »
Toutes les actions et tous les écrits d’Anselme, et surtout ses lettres privées, d’une suavité si grande, que notre prédécesseur Pascal disait avoir été écrites par la plume de la Charité (57), témoignent identiquement de cette volonté très ferme du saint homme. Dans ces lettres, il ne fait que demander et qu’implorer de l’aide et de la consolation (58) : il promet d’adresser à Dieu, pour le Pape, d’incessantes prières, comme lorsque, étant encore abbé du Bec, il écrivait à Urbain II en ces termes si expressifs d’amour filial : « Nous ne cessons de prier Dieu assidûment pour notre tribulations et celle de l’Eglise romaine qui est la nôtre et celle de tous les vrais fidèles. Nous le prions d’adoucir pour vous l’épreuve de ces jours mauvais, jusqu’à ce qu’enfin soit creusée la fosse de ceux qui vous offensent. Et nous sommes sûrs, encore que le Seigneur nous paraisse tarder beaucoup, qu’il ne laissera pas le fléau des pécheurs peser sur le sort de ses justes, car il n’abandonnera pas son héritage et les puissances de l’Enfer ne prévaudront pas contre lui (59).
Ce qui fait, Vénérables Frères, que nous nous délectons merveilleusement dans la lecture de ces lettres et d’autres de ce genre écrites par Anselme, ce n’est pas seulement qu’elles sont un témoignage à la mémoire d’un homme tel qu’on n’en vit jamais de plus attaché au Saint-Siège ; c’est aussi qu’elles nous rappellent les innombrables écrits et les actes de toute espèce par lesquels, au milieu d’un conflit analogue, vous avez affirmé une union de volonté si profonde et si explicite avec nous.
Il est admirable, vraiment, qu’au milieu des fureurs qui, au long cours des siècles, sévissent orageusement contre le nom chrétien, l’union des Pontifes sacrés et du troupeau fidèle n’ait cessé de se resserrer avec cette force et cette vigueur autour du Pontife Romain. Cette union, de nos jours, s’est tellement accrue encore et se montre avec une telle intensité qu’il semble que ce soit un miracle de Dieu que des volontés d’hommes puissent s’unir avec une telle force et, dans cette union, grandir dans une telle unité.
Cette conspiration d’amour et de fidélité, tandis qu’elle nous encourage et, à la lettre, nous confirme, est, pour l’Eglise, une gloire et un soutien des plus puissants. Mais, plus éclatant est le bien que nous vaut cette union, plus aussi s’enfle contre nous l’envie de l’antique Serpent, et plus violentes sont les rages qui coalisent contre nous les hommes impies, que la nouveauté d’un tel fait frappe d’une sorte d’épouvante. Rien de semblable, il faut le dire, ne s’offre à leur admiration dans les autres groupements d’hommes ; et ils ne peuvent expliquer un tel fait par aucune des causes, soit publiques soit autres, qui régissent les choses humaines ; mais ils ne s’avouent pas à eux-mêmes que la sublime prière du Christ, dans le dernier repas qu’il prit avec ses disciples, s’accomplit par cet événement.
Il faut donc, Vénérables Frères, faire porter les plus grands efforts vers ceci, que, de jour en jour, les membres cohérents entre eux s’attachent à leur chef à tous d’un lien de plus en plus solide, non à la manière des choses terrestres, mais selon celle des divines, en sorte que tous nous soyons un dans le Christ. Si, par tous les moyens, nous tendons à cette fin, nous nous acquitterons parfaitement du devoir qui nous est fait, de promouvoir l’œuvre du Christ et de dilater son règne sur la terre. C’est à cela que correspond cette si suave prière par laquelle l’Eglise supplie sans cesse son céleste époux et dans laquelle est contenue la somme de tous nos vœux : « Père saint, conserve-les dans ton nom ceux que tu m’as donnés afin qu’ils soient un comme nous (60). »
Ces efforts doivent avoir pour but d’opposer une ferme défense, non seulement aux attaques extérieures de ceux qui nous livrent assaut pour détruire les droits et la liberté de l’Eglise, mais aussi contre les périls de la guerre domestique, intestine, dont il est fait mention plus haut, à l’endroit où nous déplorions douloureusement qu’il existât une espèce d’hommes qui, par de perfides commentaires dictés par leurs opinions propres, tentent de changer complètement la forme et jusqu’à la nature même de l’Eglise, de violer l’intégrité de la Doctrine, et de mettre à néant, la discipline. Il se propage, de nos jours, ce poison dénoncé plus haut ; et déjà il a infecté des hommes en grand nombre, même dans les ordres sacrés, particulièrement les jeunes qui, comme enveloppés d’un air vicié, et sans plus pouvoir respirer, se ruent aveuglément devant eux, entraînés par la passion folle du nouveau.
Il en est même parmi eux qui, donnant en spectacle au monde la lourdeur de leurs esprits et l’intempérance de leurs âmes, se saisissent, au hasard, de toute découverte nouvelle des sciences d’observation appliquées aux choses naturelles, ou des arts qui président soit aux nécessités, soit aux commodités de la vie actuelle, et en forgent de nouvelles armes qu’avec une arrogance et une malignité extrêmes, ils tendent de tourner contre les vérités qui nous sont révélées d’en haut. Qu’ils se rappellent, ceux-là, combien diverses et contradictoires ont été, quant à la connaissance du cœur et quant aux choses les plus nécessaires à la direction de la vie, les avis des fauteurs de ces imprudentes nouveautés ; et qu’ils apprennent que tel est le châtiment réservé à l’orgueil humain que les malheureux qui s’y livrent ne peuvent jamais être conséquents avec eux-mêmes et dévient dans leur voie avant même d’avoir pu apercevoir le pont de la Vérité.
Mais même ces derniers n’ont pas appris, par leur propre exemple, à considérer avec humilité, à repousser loin d’eux tout raisonnement qui s’élève avec hauteur contre la science de Dieu, et à réduire en servitude toute pensée pour la soumettre à l’obédience du Christ (61).
Il s’en faut bien. D’une arrogance outrée, ils sont tombés dans l’extrême contraire, ayant suivi cette méthode philosophique qui, à force de mettre en doute toutes choses, finit par tout envelopper dans un ensemble d’erreurs et de contradictions qui se combattent les unes les autres. Et dans ce conflit d’opinions, ils se sont évanouis dans leurs pensées : « ils disaient qu’ils étaient des sages et ils sont devenus des fous (62). »
Leurs paroles grandiloquentes et vagues, qui annonçaient une science nouvelle qu’on pouvait croire tombée du ciel et promettaient d’ouvrir de nouveaux chemins aux études, entraînèrent peu à peu une partie de la jeunesse vers sa perte, ainsi qu’il arriva jadis à Augustin qu’avaient circonvenu les mensonges des manichéens. Mais, sur ces funestes docteurs d’une science en délire, sur leurs audaces, sur leurs mensonges, sur leurs erreurs, nous en avons dit assez dans notre Encyclique datée du 8 septembre 1907, commençant par ces mots : Pascendi dominici gregis.
Ce qu’il est opportun de faire remarquer ici, c’est que, si les dangers dont nous avons parlé sont plus graves aujourd’hui et d’une imminence plus prochaine, ils ne sont pas pourtant tout à fait dissemblables de ceux qui, à l’époque d’Anselme, menaçaient la doctrine de l’Eglise. Il y a, d’autre part, à considérer que nous pouvons, pour la défense de la doctrine, trouver aide et soutien dans la doctrine du saint docteur, comme dans son énergie apostolique pour la défense des droits et de la liberté de l’Eglise.
Et, sur ce point, nous abstenant de rechercher quel fut l’état de civilisation en cet âge déjà lointain et le degré de culture qu’y recevaient tant le peuple que le clergé, nous traiterons brièvement d’un péril double, né en ce temps, de ce que les intelligences s’étaient jetées, en sens contraire, dans des doctrines exagérées.
Il y eut, en effet, des hommes légers et vains qui, avec leur érudition superficielle et très mêlée, s’enorgueillissaient de la masse indigeste de leurs connaissances, abusés qu’ils étaient par une vaine apparence de philosophie ou de dialectique.
Ces hommes, sous le spécieux prétexte de science, méprisaient les saintes autorités ; « avec une coupable témérité, disait d’eux Anselme, ils osent s’élever contre l’une ou l’autre des vérités que la foi chrétienne enseigne. Et ils aiment mieux, dans leur fol orgueil, déclarer qu’il ne peut rien y avoir qu’ils ne puissent comprendre, que de reconnaître, avec une humble sagesse, qu’il y a beaucoup de choses qu’eux-mêmes sont incapables de saisir. D’ordinaire, ils montrent dès le début comme les cornes d’une science sûre d’elle-même, ignorant que, si quelqu’un croit savoir quelque chose, il n’a même pas appris comment il faut savoir, et, avant de s’être fait des ailes spirituelles à l’aide d’une foi solide, ils ont la présomption de s’élever aux plus hautes questions concernant la foi. De là il arrive qu’en s’efforçant, par une téméraire intervention, de s’élever d’abord par l’intelligence, ils tombent fatalement, par une défaillance de l’intelligence, dans une multitude d’erreurs (63). » Et nous avons aujourd’hui sous les yeux les exemples de beaucoup d’hommes qui ressemblent à ceux-là.
D’autres, au contraire, d’un esprit timide, impressionnés surtout par le cas d’un si grand nombre qui ont fait naufrage dans la foi, et craignant le danger de la science qui « enfle », en sont venus à délaisser tout usage de la philosophie, et même toute discussion, si solide fût- elle, sur les choses de la religion.
La tradition catholique tient le juste milieu entre ces deux extrêmes, également éloignée de l’arrogance des premiers, si sévèrement blâmée, à une époque ultérieure, par Grégoire IX, en parlant de ceux qui, « enflés comme des outres par l’esprit de vanité…, s’efforcent d’établir, indûment, la foi sur la raison naturelle…, altérant la parole de Dieu par les élucubrations de la philosophie (64) », – et éloignée aussi de l’indifférence de ceux qui ne sont préoccupés en rien de la recherche du vrai et n’ont aucun souci « d’arriver à l’intelligence par la foi (65) », et, d’une manière d’autant plus coupable qu’ils sont plus obligés par leur ministère à défendre la foi catholique contre tant d’erreurs qui lui sont opposées.
Anselme paraît avoir été providentiellement suscité pour cette défense de la foi, en sorte qu’il marquât, par son exemple, sa parole et ses écrits, la voie sûre à suivre, qu’il fît couler les eaux pures de la sagesse chrétienne pour le bien commun, et qu’il fût comme le guide et la règle pour les docteurs qui ont enseigné après lui les saintes Lettres, d’après la méthode scolastique (66), et dont il a mérité d’être appelé et considéré comme le précurseur.
Ce n’est pas à dire pour cela que le docteur augustinien eût atteint du premier coup les sommets de la philosophie et de la théologie, ni qu’il ait acquis la réputation de ces grands génies Thomas et Bonaventure. Le temps, en effet, et le travail accumulé des maîtres ont mûri les fruits plus tardifs de la science de ceux-là. Pour lui, Anselme, avec la modestie propre aux vrais savants, et aussi avec la promptitude et l’acuité d’intelligence qui lui étaient particulières, ne publia aucun écrit sans que l’occasion ne lui en eût été fournie, ou que l’autorité d’un autre ne l’y eût décidé, et il répète constamment : « Si nous avons dit quelque chose qui soit à corriger, je ne récuse pas la correction (67) » ; bien plus, si le sujet est en dehors de la foi et peut être mis en question, il ne veut pas que son disciple « s’attache, ce sont ses propres paroles, à ce que lui-même a dit, jusqu’à s’y obstiner, si quel qu’autre a pu détruire ses théories par des arguments plus solides et leur en opposer d’autres plus pertinents ; et s’il en est ainsi, on ne niera pas au moins que les premières n’aient servi de bon exercice de discussion (68) ».
Néanmoins, il y a chez lui beaucoup plus de points acquis qu’il ne l’eût espéré et plus que tout autre ne pourrait s’en pro- mettre de tirer de son fond, car il a été si avant que la gloire de ceux qui l’ont suivi n’a nui en rien à son mérite, pas même celle de Thomas, quoique lui n’ait pas admis toutes les conclusions de son devancier, et que certaines autres il les ait exposées à nouveau avec plus de précision et plus d’exactitude. Ce qu’il faut surtout reconnaître à Anselme, c’est qu’il a ouvert la voie aux recherches, qu’il a dissipé les scrupules des timides, qu’il a préservé les imprudents des dangers, qu’il a écarté le fléau des ergoteurs entêtés, si bien définis par lui en ces termes : « Ces dialecticiens de notre temps, qui sont bien plutôt des dialectiquement hérétiques (69) », et dont l’intelligence était devenue l’esclave de leurs extravagances et de leur vanité.
De ces derniers il a dit : « Quand tous doivent être avertis de n’aborder qu’avec la plus grande prudence les questions relatives à l’Ecriture sainte, pour les dialecticiens de notre temps il faut absolument leur dire de s’abstenir des controverses sur les sujets spirituels. » Et la raison qu’il en donne s’applique parfaitement aussi à leurs disciples d’aujourd’hui, qui répètent les mêmes absurdités, à savoir que « la raison qui est dans leurs âmes, laquelle doit être la maîtresse et le juge de tout ce qui est en l’homme, est tellement enveloppée dans les images corporelles qu’elle ne peut se dégager d’elles, ni abstraire de ces images les choses qu’elle doit contempler seule et libre (70) ». Et les termes qu’il emploie pour se moquer de cette espèce de philosophes ne conviennent pas moins à notre temps, quand il dit d’eux que, « parce qu’ils ne peuvent comprendre ce qu’ils croient, ils discutent contre la vérité de cette même foi confirmée par les Saints Pères, comme si les chauves-souris et les hiboux qui ne voient le ciel que la nuit, discutaient des rayons du soleil de midi contre les aigles qui regardent le soleil lui-même sans cligner des yeux (71) ». C’est pourquoi, en cet endroit et ailleurs (72), il blâme l’opinion dépravée de ceux qui, accordant à la philosophie plus qu’il ne lui est dû, réclamaient pour elle le droit d’envahir le domaine de la théologie. A rencontre de cette folle prétention, l’excellent docteur a marqué les limites de l’une et de l’autre science et il enseigne exactement quelle est la fonction et la charge de la raison naturelle dans les choses qui touchent à la doctrine divinement révélée : « Notre foi, dit-il, doit être défendue par la raison contre les impies » ; mais comment et dans quelle mesure ? Les paroles suivantes l’indiquent clairement : « à eux il faut montrer rationnellement combien irrationnellement ils nous méprisent (73) ». Le rôle principal de la philosophie consiste donc à faire ressortir le rationabile obsequium de notre foi, et, par conséquent, de déterminer aussi la foi à accorder à l’autorité divine, quand elle nous propose des mystères, qui, attestés par de nombreuses marques de vérité, sont rendus parfaitement croyables. Bien différente est la fonction de la théologie, qui s’appuie sur la révélation divine et affermit dans la foi ceux qui font profession de se réjouir du nom de chrétiens : « car aucun chrétien ne doit discuter si ce que l’Eglise catholique croit de cœur et enseigne de bouche est ou n’est pas ; mais, en s’attachant inébranlablement à sa foi, en l’aimant et en vivant selon elle ; il peut chercher en toute humilité la raison de ce qui est. Et s’il peut comprendre, qu’il rende grâces à Dieu ; s’il ne le peut pas, qu’il ne fonce pas avec ses cornes contre l’obstacle, mais plutôt qu’il courbe la tête avec révérence (74) ! »
Lors donc que les théologiens cherchent ou que les fidèles demandent les raisons de notre foi, ce n’est pas sur les fondements de la philosophie mais sur l’autorité de la révélation divine qu’ils s’appuient, c’est-à-dire, comme l’explique Anselme : « De même que l’ordre régulier exige que nous croyions les vérités cachées de la foi chrétienne, appelées mystères, avant d’entreprendre de les discuter avec la raison, ainsi, il y a de la négligence, à mon avis, si, après que nous avons été confirmés dans la foi, nous ne nous appliquons pas à comprendre ce que nous croyons (75) ». Et il parle ici de cette intelligence dont a parlé aussi le concile du Vatican (76) ; car, dans un autre endroit, il s’exprime ainsi : « Quoique depuis le temps des apôtres, les Saints Pères et tous nos Docteurs aient dit tant et de si grandes choses sur la raison de notre foi, ils n’ont pu dire néanmoins tout ce qu’ils auraient dit, s’ils eussent vécu plus longtemps, et la raison de la vérité est si étendue et si profonde qu’elle ne peut être épuisée par les hommes ; et, d’autre part, le Seigneur n’a cessé de prodiguer à son Eglise, avec laquelle il a promis d’être jusqu’à la consommation des siècles, les dons de sa grâce. Et pour ne pas parler du reste, dans les paroles avec lesquelles la sainte Ecriture nous invite à l’exercice de la raison, quand elle dit : « Si vous ne croyez pas, vous ne comprendrez pas », elle nous exhorte expressément à appliquer notre esprit à l’intelligence de la vérité, puisqu’elle nous apprend comment il faut procéder pour y arriver. » Et il ne faut pas omettre la raison qu’il ajoute en dernier lieu : « Entre la foi et la claire vue, l’intelligence que nous possédons en cette vie tient le milieu », et c’est pourquoi, « plus on s’avance vers la connaissance, plus on s’approche de la vision à laquelle nous aspirons tous (77) ».
Tels sont, sans parler des autres, les fondements solides donnés à la philosophie et à la théologie par Anselme ; telle est la méthode d’études établie par lui à l’usage de la postérité, et que, en marchant sur ses traces, les plus doctes maîtres, les princes des Scolastiques, et entre tous le grand docteur d’Aquin, ont grandement enrichie, accrue, illustrée, perfectionnée pour la plus grande gloire et la plus grande utilité de l’Eglise. Il nous a plu, Vénérables Frères, de vous rappeler ainsi Anselme, pour avoir l’occasion, attendue de nous, de vous exhorter de nouveau à avoir soin de faire couler sur la jeunesse cléricale les sources les plus salutaires de la sagesse chrétienne, ouvertes d’abord par le docteur augustinien et abondamment enrichies ensuite par Thomas d’Aquin. Et à ce sujet, ne perdez pas le souvenir de ce que notre prédécesseur d’heureuse mémoire, Léon XIII (78), et nous-même, en diverses circonstances et en particulier dans notre lettre encyclique du 8 septembre 1907, commençant par ces mots : Pascendi dominici gregis, nous avons dit sur ce point. Hélas ! nous ne voyons que trop les ruines causées par la négligence ou la mauvaise direction des études, dont il y était question, alors que tant d’hommes, même parmi le clergé, sans en être capables ni préparés, n’ont pas craint de « s’élever témérairement contre les plus hautes matières de la foi (79) ». En déplorant ces maux avec Anselme, nous empruntons aussi ses paroles pour renouveler les graves avertissements qu’il donnait en ces termes : « Que personne ne se plonge témérairement dans les obscurités des questions divines, à moins de s’être établi d’abord fermement dans la foi, et d’avoir la maturité voulue de mœurs et de sagesse, afin de ne pas s’exposer, en s’égarant avec imprévoyance dans les multiples sentiers du sophisme, à être pris au lacet de quelque subtile erreur (80). » Et à cette imprudence si le feu des passions s’ajoute, comme il arrive ordinairement, c’en est fait des études sérieuses et de l’intégrité de la doctrine. Enflés du fol orgueil, dont Anselme se plaint chez ces dialecticiens qui l’étaient hérétiquement, ils ont le mépris des saintes autorités, c’est-à-dire les divines Ecritures, les Pères, les Docteurs, dont aucun homme de jugement sain ne pourra que redire avec Anselme : « N’espérons pas qu’il y ait jamais personne, de nos jours ni plus tard, de comparable à eux pour la contemplation de la vérité (81) ». Et ils ne font pas plus de cas des avertissements de l’Eglise et même du Souverain Pontife, quand elle et lui s’efforcent de les ramener dans la bonne voie, prompts seulement à donner des paroles pour des actes et à feindre la soumission afin de se concilier par ces dehors trompeurs l’autorité et la faveur du plus grand nombre. Il y a peu d’espoir que ces hommes-là reviennent à de meilleurs sentiments, quand ils refusent d’écouter la parole « du chef et père de l’Eglise universelle, voyageur sur cette terre, à qui la divine Providence a confié la garde de la vie et de la foi chrétiennes et la conduite de son Eglise », et « à qui, par conséquent, avant tout autre, on doit en référer, s’il se produit dans l’Eglise quelque attaque contre la foi catholique, afin que son autorité y remédie ; à qui il faut avant tout en appeler, s’il y a à réfuter quelque erreur, pour en faire juge sa sagesse (82) ». Et plût à Dieu que ces ennemis qui affectent de paraître sincères, ouverts, attachés à tous leurs devoirs, qui se réclament de l’expérience et de la religion, et se prévalent d’une foi active, écoutent les enseignements d’Anselme, qu’ils se conduisent d’après ses exemples et ses préceptes et gravent surtout dans leur esprit ces paroles : « Il faut d’abord purifier son cœur par la foi…, et éclairer ses yeux par l’observation des préceptes du Seigneur… et se faire petit enfant par une humble docilité à l’égard des oracles de Dieu, afin d’apprendre la sagesse… Et non seulement l’esprit est incapable de s’élever, sans la foi et l’obéissance aux commandements de Dieu, à la connaissance des vérités supérieures, mais souvent même l’intelligence qu’on a reçue vous est ôtée et la foi elle-même est ruinée, si l’on néglige la bonne conscience (83) ».
Que si des hommes turbulents et audacieux continuent à semer des causes d’erreur et de divisions, à dévaster le patrimoine de la sainte doctrine, à violer la discipline, à tourner en dérision les plus respectables traditions, « ce qui est un genre d’hérésie que de vouloir les renverser (84) », enfin, à détruire de fond en comble la divine constitution de l’Eglise, vous voyez, vénérables frères, combien il est de notre devoir de veiller à ce qu’une aussi redoutable peste n’atteigne pas le troupeau chrétien et en particulier les jeunes agneaux. Nous le demandons à Dieu dans d’incessantes prières par l’intercession toute-puissante de l’auguste Mère de Dieu, des bienheureux citoyens de l’Eglise triomphante et, en particulier, de notre Anselme, cette lumière éclatante de la sagesse chrétienne, cet incorruptible gardien et cet intrépide défenseur de tous les droits sacrés, que nous aimons à invoquer avec les paroles mêmes de notre prédécesseur Grégoire VII : « Puisque la bonne odeur de vos œuvres est parvenue jusqu’à nous, nous en rendons à Dieu les plus dignes actions de grâces et nous vous embrassons de tout notre cœur, dans l’amour du Christ, assurés que nous sommes que l’Eglise de Dieu profitera par l’imitation de tels exemples et que, par ses prières et celles de vos émules, elle pourra, à l’aide de la miséricorde de Dieu, échapper même aux dangers qui la menacent.
« Aussi, voulons-nous que votre fraternité supplie Dieu instamment qu’il délivre son Eglise et nous qui, malgré notre indignité, nous lui sommes préposés, de l’oppression menaçante des hérétiques et qu’il les ramène, eux, en les faisant revenir de leur erreur, dans la voie de la vérité (85). »
Fort de tels appuis et confiant dans votre zèle, nous vous donnons, affectueusement en Dieu, comme gage de la grâce céleste et en témoignage de notre bienveillance toute spéciale, la bénédiction apostolique, à vous, vénérables frères, et à tout le peuple confié à chacun de vous.
Donné à Rome, près Saint-Pierre, en la fête de saint Anselme, le 21 avril 1909, l’an six de notre Pontificat.
PIE X, PAPE.
(1) Cor., IV, 9.
(2) Coloss., III, 11.
(3) Encyclica dici 4 octobris MDCCCCIII
(4) 1 Cor., XV, 41.
(5) Breviar. Rom., die 21 aprilis.
(6) Epicedion in obitum Anselmi.
(7) In Epitaphio.
(8) Epicedion in obitum Anselmi.
(10) Breviar. Rom., die 21 aprilis.
(11) In libro II Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 32.
(12) In lib. III Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 74 et 42.
(13) 1 Cor., II, 14.
(14) Epiceclion in obitum Anselmi.
(15) Breviar. Rom., die 21 aprilis.
(16) In lib. III Epist. S. Anselmi, cp. 44 et 75.
(17) Galat., IV, 19.
(18) Prov., XIV, 34.
(19) Luc, XIX, 14.
(20) JOAN., VIII, 44.
(21) Colos., II, 8.
(22) Rom., I, 21.
(23) 1 Tim., I, 19.
(24) Concil. Vat. Constit. Dei filius, cap. 4.
(25) Epist., lib. III, ep. 65,
(26) Ibid., lib. III, ep. 73.
(27) Ibid., lib. IV. en. 47.
(28) Act. XX, 28.
(20) Isai, LVIII, 1.
(30) Ps., XVII. 14.
(31) Hebr., XIII, 14.
(32) Prov., XIV, 34.
(33) Sap., VI, 7.
(34) Epist., lib. IV, ep. 12.
(35) Ibid., ep. 8.
(36) Epist., lib. III, ep. 57.
(37) Ibid., ep. 59.
(38) Ibid , lib. IV. ep. 52.
(39) Epist., lib. IV, ep. 32.
(40) Ibid., lib. III, ep. 142.
(41) Rom., VIII, 28.
(42) Ibid., XI, 33.
(43) ISAI, -LV,- 8.
(44) Coloss., i, 24.
(45) Act., XIV, 21.
(46) Hom,, III.
(47) I. JOAN., V, 19.
(48) MATTH., XII, 30.
(49) Cor., IX, 22.
(50) In libro III Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 140.
(51) Epist., lib. III, cp. 37.
(52) II Cor., XII, 9, 10.
(53) Epist., lib. III, cp. 37.
Source: Diocèse d’Albi. La Semaine religieuse du diocèse d’Albi. N° 20, 15 mai 1909; N° 21, 22 mai 1909; N°22, 29 mai 1909; N°23, 5 Juin 1909. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Philosophie, histoire, sciences de l’homme, 8-LC11-13 (3).
Frei Cipriano da Cruz, Santo Anselmo, Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
Kloster Ossiach - Maria erscheint Anselm von Canterbury - Maler:Josef Ferdinand Fromiller
Romanelli. Recontre de saint Anselme et de la comtesse Mathilde
devant saint Grégoire VII. XVIIe.
Mort à Cantorbéry le 21 avril 1109. Culte autorisé par Alexandre VI sans canonisation préalable. En 1690, Alexandre VIII inscrit sa fête au calendrier comme semi-double. Clément XI l’élève au rite double en 1720 en déclarant St Anselme docteur de l’Église.
Leçons des Matines avant 1960
Quatrième leçon. Anselme naquit dans la ville d’Aoste, aux confins de l’Italie, de parents nobles et catholiques : son père s’appelait Gondulphe et sa mère Ermemberge. Dès ses tendres années, son application assidue à l’étude et son désir d’une vie plus parfaite firent clairement pressentir qu’il brillerait dans la suite par sa sainteté et sa science. S’il se laissa entraîner pendant quelque temps par la fougue de la jeunesse vers les séductions du monde, bientôt cependant, rappelé dans la bonne voie, il abandonna sa patrie et tous ses biens, et se rendit au monastère du Bec, de l’Ordre de saint Benoît. C’est là, qu’ayant fait sa profession religieuse sous Herluin, Abbé très zélé pour l’observance, et Lanfranc, maître très docte, il fit de tels progrès par la ferveur de son âme et par son ardeur constante pour l’étude et l’acquisition des vertus, que tous le regardèrent comme un modèle admirable de sainteté et de doctrine.
Cinquième leçon. Son abstinence et sa sobriété étaient si grandes que l’assiduité au jeûne semblait avoir détruit en lui presque tout sentiment du besoin de nourriture. Après avoir employé le jour aux exercices monastiques, à l’enseignement, et à répondre aux diverses questions qu’on lui adressait sur la religion, il dérobait la plus grande partie de la nuit au sommeil, pour donner une nouvelle vigueur à son âme par les méditations divines, auxquelles il ne se livrait jamais sans une grande abon dance de larmes. Élu prieur du monastère, il sut si bien se concilier par sa charité, son humilité et sa prudence, les frères qui lui étaient contraires, que de ces hommes, d’abord envieux, il fit ses amis et les amis de Dieu, au grand avantage de l’observance régulière. A la mort de l’Abbé, Anselme fut établi malgré lui à sa place. La réputation de sa science et de sa sainteté devint si éclatante en tous lieux, que non seulement il reçut des témoignages de vénération de la part des rois et des Évêques, mais qu’il fut honoré de l’amitié de saint Grégoire VII. Ce Pontife, éprouvé alors par de grandes persécutions, lui adressa des lettres pleines d’affection, dans lesquelles il recommandait à ses prières, et sa personne, et l’Église catholique.
Sixième leçon. Anselme, après la mort de Lanfranc, Archevêque de Cantorbéry, son ancien maître, se vit contraint par les pressantes sollicitations de Guillaume, roi d’Angleterre, et sur les instances du clergé et du peuple, à prendre en main le gouvernement de cette Église. Il s’appliqua aussitôt à réformer les mœurs relâchées de son peuple, employant d’abord à cet effet ses discours et ses exemples, et ensuite ses écrits ; il fit encore célébrer plusieurs conciles, et rétablit dans son diocèse la piété et la discipline ecclésiastique. Mais bientôt le même roi Guillaume, ayant tenté par la violence et les menaces d’usurper les droits de l’Église, Anselme lui résista avec une constance vraiment sacerdotale, et eut à souffrir la perte de ses biens et même l’exil, et se rendit à Rome auprès d’Urbain II. Ce Pape le reçut avec honneur, et le combla de louanges lorsque, au concile de Bari, Anselme soutint contre l’erreur des Grecs, par d’innombrables témoignages des Écritures et des saints Pères, que le Saint-Esprit procède aussi du Fils. Le roi Guillaume ayant quitté cette vie, le roi Henri, son frère, rappela Anselme en Angleterre, où le Saint s’endormit dans le Seigneur. Célèbre par ses miracles et sa sainteté, (dont le trait distinctif était une insigne dévotion pour la passion de notre Seigneur et envers la bienheureuse Vierge, sa Mère), célèbre aussi par sa doctrine très utile à la défense de la religion chrétienne, à ’avancement des âmes et à tous les théologiens qui ont traité de la science sacrée selon la méthode scolastique, Anselme paraît avoir puisé au ciel l’inspiration de tous ses ouvrages.
Moine, Évêque et Docteur, Anselme réunit en sa personne ces trois grands apanages du chrétien privilégie ; et si l’auréole du martyre n’est pas venue apporter le dernier lustre à ce noble faisceau de tant de gloires, on peut dire que la palme a manqué à Anselme, mais qu’il n’a pas manqué à la palme. Son nom rappelle la mansuétude de l’homme du cloître unie à la fermeté épiscopale, la science jointe à la piété ; nulle mémoire n’a été à la fois plus douce et plus éclatante.
Le Piémont le donna à la France et à l’Ordre de saint Benoît. Anselme, dans l’abbaye du Bec, réalisa pleinement le type de l’Abbé tel que l’a tracé le Patriarche des moines d’Occident : « Plus servir que commander. » Il fut de la part de ses frères l’objet d’une affection sans égale, et dont l’expression est arrivée jusqu’à nous. Sa vie leur appartenait tout entière, soit qu’il s’appliquât à les conduire à Dieu, soit qu’il prît plaisir à les initier aux sublimes spéculations de son intelligence. Un jour il leur fut enlevé malgré tous ses efforts, et contraint de s’asseoir sur la chaire archiépiscopale de Cantorbéry. Successeur en ce siège des Augustin, des Dunstan, des Elphège, des Lanfranc, il fut digne de porter le pallium après eux, et par ses nobles exemples, il ouvrit la voie à l’illustre martyr Thomas qui lui succéda de si près.
Sa vie pastorale fut tout entière aux luttes pour la liberté de l’Église. En lui l’agneau revêtit la vigueur du lion. « Le Christ, disait-il, ne veut pas d’une esclave pour épouse ; il n’aime rien tant en ce monde que la liberté de son Église. » Le temps n’est plus où ce Fils de Dieu consentait à être enchaîné par d’indignes liens, afin de nous affranchir de nos péchés ; il est ressuscite glorieux, et il veut que son épouse soit libre comme lui. Dans tous les siècles, elle a à combattre pour cette liberté sacrée, sans laquelle elle ne pourrait remplir ici-bas le ministère de salut que son Époux divin lui a confié. Jaloux de son influence, les princes de la terre, qui n’ignorent pas qu’elle est reine, se sont ingéniés à lui créer mille entraves. De nos jours, un grand nombre de ses enfants ont perdu jusqu’à la notion des franchises auxquelles elles a droit : sans aucun souci de sa royauté, ils ne lui désirent d’autre liberté que celle qu’elle partagera avec les sectes qu’elle condamne ; ils ne peuvent comprendre que, dans de telles conditions, l’Église que le Christ a faite pour régner, est en esclavage. Ce n’est pas ainsi qu’Anselme l’entendait ; et tout enfant de l’Église doit avoir de telles utopies en horreur. Les grands mots de progrès et de société moderne ne sauraient le séduire ; il sait que l’Église n’a pas d’égale ici-bas ; et s’il voit le monde en proie aux plus terribles convulsions, incapable de s’asseoir désormais sur un fondement stable, tout s’explique pour lui par cette raison que l’Église n’est plus reine. Le droit de notre Mère n’est pas seulement d’être reconnue pour ce qu’elle est dans le secret de la pensée de chacun de ses fidèles ; il lui faut l’appui extérieur. Jésus lui a promis les nations en héritage ; elle les a possédées selon cette divine promesse ; mais aujourd’hui, s’il advient qu’un peuple la mette hors la loi, en lui offrant une égale protection avec toutes les sectes qu’elle a expulsées de son sein, mille acclamations se font entendre à la louange de ce prétendu progrès, et des voix connues et aimées, se mêlent à ces clameurs.
De telles épreuves furent épargnées à Anselme. La brutalité des rois normands était moins à redouter que ces systèmes perfides qui sapent par la base jusqu’à l’idée même de l’Église, et font regretter la persécution ouverte. Le torrent renverse tout sur son passage ; mais tout renaît aussi lorsque sa source est tarie. Il en est autrement quand les eaux débordées envahissent la terre en l’entraînant après elles. Tenons-le pour sûr : le jour où l’Église, la céleste colombe, n’aura plus ici-bas où poser son pied avec honneur, le ciel s’ouvrira, et elle prendra son vol pour sa patrie céleste, laissant le monde à la veille de voir descendre le juge du dernier jour.
Anselme docteur n’est pas moins admirable qu’Anselme pontife. Sa haute et tranquille intelligence se plut dans la contemplation des vérités divines ; elle en chercha les rapports et l’harmonie, et le produit de ces nobles labeurs occupe un rang supérieur dans le dépôt où se conservent les richesses de la théologie catholique. Dieu avait départi à Anselme le génie. Ses combats, sa vie agitée, ne purent le distraire de ses saintes et dures études, et, sur le chemin de ses exils, il allait méditant sur Dieu et ses mystères, étendant pour lui-même et pour la postérité le champ déjà si vaste des investigations respectueuses de la raison dans les domaines de la foi.
Nous insérons ici plusieurs Répons et Antiennes approuvés par le Siège apostolique en l’honneur de saint Anselme.
R/. Celui-ci est Anselme, illustre Docteur que Lanfranc a élevé ; c’est lui qui, étant pour les moines un père plein de tendresse, a été appelé à la mitre des pontifes ; * Et il a combattu vaillamment pour la liberté de la sainte Église, alléluia. V/. Il disait de sa voix indomptée que l’Épouse du Christ était libre, et non de condition servile ; * Et il a combattu vaillamment pour la liberté de la sainte Église, alléluia.
R/. Le bienheureux Anselme dit avec tristesse aux évêques : Vous voulez atteler à la charrue un taureau indompté et une faible brebis ; le taureau traînera la brebis dans les épines et les halliers, et la déchirera cruellement : * Et votre joie d’aujourd’hui se chan promptement en tristesse, alléluia. V/. Les tribulations m’attendent ; cependant je n’en crains aucune, pourvu que je consomme ma course. * Et votre joie d’aujourd’hui se chan promptement en tristesse, alléluia.
R/. Les Pères étant réunis dans le concile, le pontife Urbain s’écria : Anselme, archevêque des Anglais, notre Père et notre Maître, où es-tu ? * Monte jusqu’à nous, viens nous aider, et combats pour ta mère et la nôtre, alléluia. V/. Bénie soit ta sagesse, et bénies les paroles de ta bouche ! * Monte jusqu’à nous, viens nous aider, et combats pour ta mère et la nôtre, alléluia.
Ant. Anselme, agneau par la douceur, lion par le courage, comblé de la doctrine céleste, a éclairé les âmes, alléluia.
Ant. Le bienheureux Anselme instruisait les princes du siècle : Dieu, disait-il, n’aime rien plus en ce monde que la liberté de son Église, alléluia.
L’Hymne suivante a été approuvée aussi par le Saint-Siège.
Le prélat plein de courage, le moine fidèle, le docteur ceint de la couronne, nous apparaît aujourd’hui ; chantons à l’envi pour la fête d’Anselme.
Il n’avait pas encore atteint les années de l’homme fait, qu’on le vit dédaigner avec sagesse la fleur de ce monde périssable ; il entra au désert, aspirant à recevoir les enseignements de Lanfranc.
Porté sur les ailes d’une ferme foi, il a pénétré les mystères intimes du Verbe divin ; quel autre a plongé plus avant jusqu’aux sources pures et mystérieuses de nos dogmes ?
Auguste père, on t’impose la charge d’Abbé ; tu te dévoiles avec amour à la famille qui t’est confiée ; les faibles, tu les portes sur tes épaules ; les fervents, tu les précèdes et les réchauffes par tes exhortations.
Le roi te défère la chaire des pontifes, ne redoute pas les luttes qui t’attendent ; les triomphes viendront après ; généreux exilé, tu éclaireras de ta lumière les nations lointaines.
La liberté sacrée que le Christ a acquise à ses brebis en les rachetant, qu’il préfère à tout, est la sainte passion d’Anselme : quel pontife surpassa jamais son courage à la défendre ?
Ta renommée, noble prélat, s’étend bientôt jusqu’à Rome : le Pontife suprême te défère les honneurs : l’intérêt de la foi te réclame : les Pèles du concile sont dans le silence de l’attente ; parle et détends la vérité attaquée.
Conserve le souvenir du saint troupeau ; daigne être son protecteur auprès de l’éternelle Trinité, à qui tous les siècles rendent honneur et gloire dans l’univers entier.
O Anselme, Pontife aimé de Dieu et des hommes, la sainte Église, que vous avez servie ici-bas avec tant de zèle, vous rend aujourd’hui ses hommages comme à l’un de ses prélats les plus révérés. Imitateur de la bonté du divin Pasteur, nul ne vous surpassa en douceur, en condescendance, en charité. Vous connaissiez vos brebis, et vos brebis vous connaissaient ; veillant jour et nuit à leur garde, vous ne fûtes jamais surpris par l’arrivée du loup. Loin de fuir à son approche, vous allâtes au-devant, et aucune violence n’eut le pouvoir de vous faire reculer. Héroïque champion de la liberté de l’Église, protégez-la en nos temps, où elle est presque partout foulée et comme anéantie. Suscitez en tous lieux des Pasteurs émules de votre sainte indépendance, afin que le courage se ranime dans le cœur des brebis, et que tout chrétien se fasse honneur de confesser qu’il est avant tout membre de l’Église, qu’a ses veux les intérêts de cette Mère des âmes sont supérieurs à ceux de toute société terrestre.
Le Verbe divin vous avait doué, ô Anselme, de cette philosophie toute chrétienne qui s’abaisse devant les vérités de la foi, et, purifiée par l’humilité, s’élève aux vues les plus sublimes. Éclairée de vos lumières si pures, la sainte Église, dans sa reconnaissance, vous a décerné le titre de Docteur, réservé si longtemps à ces savants hommes qui vécurent aux premiers âges du christianisme, et conservent dans leurs écrits comme un reflet de la prédication des Apôtres. Votre doctrine a été jugée digne d’être réunie à celle des anciens Pères ; car elle procède du même Esprit ; elle est fille de la prière, plus encore que de la pensée. Obtenez, ô saint Docteur, que sur vos traces, notre foi cherche aussi l’intelligence. Beaucoup aujourd’hui blasphèment ce qu’ils ignorent, et beaucoup aussi ignorent ce qu’ils croient. De là une confusion désolante, des compromis périlleux entre la vérité et l’erreur, la seule vraie doctrine méconnue, abandonnée et demeurant sans défense. Demandez pour nous, ô Anselme, des docteurs qui sachent éclairer les sentiers de la vérité et dissiper les nuages de l’erreur, afin que les enfants de l’Église ne restent plus exposés à la séduction.
Jetez un regard, ô saint Pontife, sur la famille religieuse qui vous accueillit dans ses rangs, au sortir des vanités du siècle, et daignez étendre sur elle votre protection. C’est dans son sein que vous avez puisé la vie de l’âme et la lumière de l’intelligence. Fils du grand Benoît, ayez souvenir de vos hères. Bénissez-les en France, où vous avez embrassé la règle monastique ; bénissez-les en Angleterre, où vous avez été Primat entre les pontifes sans cesser d’être moine. Priez, ô Anselme, pour les deux nations qui vous ont adopté tour à tour. Chez l’une, la foi s’est tristement affaiblie ; chez l’autre, l’hérésie règne en souveraine. Sollicitez pour toutes les deux les miséricordes du Seigneur. Il est puissant, et ne ferme pas son oreille aux supplications de ses saints. S’il a résolu dans sa justice de ne pas rendre à ces deux nations leur antique constitution chrétienne, obtenez du moins que beaucoup d’âmes se sauvent, que de nombreux retours consolent la Mère commune, que les derniers ouvriers de la vigne rivalisent de zèle avec les premiers, en attendant le jour où le Maître descendra pour rendre à chacun selon ses œuvres.
Église de l’abbatiale de Notre-Dame du Bec. De gauche à droite: Saint Jérôme, statue du XVe siècle. Triptyque de Saint Anselme. Saint Grégoire, statue du XVe siècle.
In the abbey church Notre-Dame du Bec, 15th-century works: a triptych of Anselm of Canterbury, a Statue of Gregorius I Magnus and a statue of Saint Jerome.
Saint Anselme a presque droit de cité dans le Missel romain car il résida quelque temps à Rome, et, au Concile de Bari destiné à combattre le schisme des Grecs, il fut le meilleur appui d’Urbain II dans la lutte contre l’erreur. De nos jours, Léon XIII fit élever sur le mont Aventin, en l’honneur du saint docteur de Cantorbéry, une insigne basilique, annexée au grand collège universitaire de l’Ordre bénédictin qui compte le Saint parmi ses plus glorieux représentants. En l’honneur de ce grand docteur, qui eut le mérite de préparer la voie, en quelque sorte, à l’édifice théologique de l’Aquinate, l’hymnaire bénédictin contient cette belle ode saphique :
Sur son lit de mort, Léon XIII composa des vers en l’honneur de saint Anselme, et il les fit porter aussitôt à l’Abbé de sa nouvelle basilique aventine, comme un dernier gage de la dévotion qu’il nourrissait envers le grand docteur et l’Ordre bénédictin qui l’avait formé.
La messe est celle du .
Cet illustre confesseur de la foi et de la liberté de l’Église, fugitif et exilé, trouva à Rome, comme autrefois saint Athanase, et chez le bienheureux Urbain II, accueil bienveillant et protection. L’histoire a enregistré comme un titre spécial de gloire pour sa mémoire une de ses paroles, énergique et pleine de foi en même temps : « Dieu n’aime rien davantage en ce monde que la liberté de son Église. »
 Commun des Docteurs->306
Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Réformons-nous d’abord nous-mêmes.
Saint Anselme. — Jour de mort : 21 avril 1109. Tombeau : dans la cathédrale de Cantorbéry. Image : On le représente en évêque et docteur de l’Église, contemplant l’apparition du Christ et de la Sainte Vierge. Vie : Saint Anselme, évêque de Cantorbéry et primat d’Angleterre, naquit en 1033 et mourut le 21 avril 1109. Prieur et abbé, il fit de l’abbaye du Bec un centre de véritable réforme pour la Normandie et l’Angleterre. De cette abbaye, il exerça une influence durable sur les papes, les rois, les puissances civiles et des Ordres entiers. Devenu primat d’Angleterre, il mena un combat héroïque pour les droits et la liberté de l’Église. Il y perdit ses biens et ses dignités et connut même l’exil. Il se rendit à Rome auprès du pape Urbain Il qu’il soutint au concile de Bari contre les erreurs des Grecs. Ses écrits témoignent de la hauteur de son esprit ainsi que de sa sainteté ; ils lui méritèrent le nom de père de la scolastique.
Pratique : Saint Anselme est un des vrais réformateurs de l’Église. La vraie réforme commence par soi-même. Saint Anselme se mit le premier à l’école sévère de la mortification. Il était ensuite apte et autorisé à corriger les autres. — La messe est du commun d’un docteur (In medio).
SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/21-04-St-Anselme-eveque-confesseur#nh1
Saint Anselme, âgé de quinze ans, assiste à la mort de sa mère. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm, age 14, assists at the death of his mother. Panel 1 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Anselm of Aosta
Anselmo of Canterbury
Doctor of Scholasticism
Born to the Italian nobility. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, at age 15 Anselm wanted to enter religious life, but his father Gondulf prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon the death of his mother, Ermenberge, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France in 1056, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy in 1060. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as prior of the house in 1063. Abbot of the house in 1078.
Because of the physical closeness and political connections, there was frequent travel and communication between Normandy and England, and Anselm was in repeated contact with Church officials in England. He was chosen as reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 1092; officials had to wait until he too sick to argue in order to get him to agree.
As bishop he fought King William Rufus’s encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, refused to pay bribes to take over as bishop, and was exiled for his efforts. He travelled to Rome, Italy and spent part of his exile as an advisor to Pope Blessed Urban II, obtaining the pope‘s support for returning to England and conducting Church business without the king‘s interference. He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at Council of Bari in 1098.
In 1100 King Henry II invited Anselm to return to England, but they disputed over lay investiture, and Anselm was exiled again only to return in 1106 when Henry agreed not to interfere with the selection of Church officials. Anselm opposed slavery, and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He strongly supported celibate clergy, and approved the addition of several saints to the liturgical calendar of England.
Anselm was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages, and a noted theological writer. He was far more at home in the monastery than in political circles, but still managed to improve the position of the Church in England. Counsellor to Pope Gregory VII. Chosen a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.
with Our Lady appearing before him
with a ship
Catholic Encyclopedia, by W H Kent
Saints in Art, by Margaret E Tabor
Saints of the Day, by Katherine Rabenstein
Short Lives of the Saints, by Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly
Proslogium: Discourse on the Existence of God, by Saint Anselm
Monologium: On the Being of God, by Saint Anselm
Anselm’s Apologetic: In Reply to Gaunilon’s Answer in Behalf of the Fool, by Saint Anselm
A Clerk of Oxford: Heaven Among the Alps
A Clerk of Oxford: Career Counselling in the 11th Century
A Clerk of Oxford: Anselm and the Owl
A Clerk of Oxford: Sending forth his soul into the hands of the Creator, he slept in peace
Christian Biographies, by James Keifer
O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope. O, Lord, through your Son you command us, no, you counsel us to ask, and you promise that you will hear us so that our joy may be complete. Give me then what you promise to give through your Truth. You, O God, are faithful; grant that I may receive my request, so that my joy may be complete. – Saint Anselm
No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God.” – Saint Anselm, Opera Omnis, Letter 112
O Lord, we bring before you the distress and dangers of peoples and nations, the pleas of the imprisoned and the captive, the sorrows of the grief-stricken, the needs of the refugee, the impotence of the weak, the weariness of the despondent, and the diminishments of the aging. O Lord, stay close to all of them. Amen. – prayer for all classes of people by Saint Anselm
O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart; that, so desiring, we may seek, and, seeking, find Thee; and so finding Thee, may love Thee; and loving Thee, may hate those sins from which Thou hast redeemed. Amen. – Saint Anselm
“Saint Anselm of Canterbury“. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 April 2021. Web. 20 April 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-anselm-of-canterbury/>
Lanfranc, prieur de l'abbaye du Bec, en Normandie, dirige ses études et l'exhorte à embrasser la vie monastique. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
Lanfranc, prior of Bec Abbey in Normandy, directs St Anselm's studies and encourages him to embrace the monastic life. [In fact, Lanfranc avoided such exhortation and directed Anselm to the local bishop instead, to avoid his own bias.] Panel 2 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Benedictine Abbey of Sant'Anselmo [St Anselm] is located on the Aventine Hill in Rome. As the headquarters of an academic institute of higher studies and of the Abbot Primate of the Confederated Benedictines it is a place that unites within it prayer, study and governance, the same three activities that were a feature of the life of the Saint to whom it is dedicated: Anselm of Aosta, the ninth anniversary of whose death occurs this year. The many initiatives promoted for this happy event, especially by the Diocese of Aosta, have highlighted the interest that this medieval thinker continues to rouse. He is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury because of the cities with which he was associated. Who is this figure to whom three places, distant from one another and located in three different nations Italy, France, England feel particularly bound? A monk with an intense spiritual life, an excellent teacher of the young, a theologian with an extraordinary capacity for speculation, a wise man of governance and an intransigent defender of libertas Ecclesiae, of the Church's freedom, Anselm is one of the eminent figures of the Middle Ages who was able to harmonize all these qualities, thanks to the profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and his action.
St Anselm was born in 1033 (or at the beginning of 1034) in Aosta, the first child of a noble family. His father was a coarse man dedicated to the pleasures of life who squandered his possessions. On the other hand, Anselm's mother was a profoundly religious woman of high moral standing (cf. Eadmer, Vita Sancti Anselmi, PL 159, col. 49). It was she, his mother, who saw to the first human and religious formation of her son whom she subsequently entrusted to the Benedictines at a priory in Aosta. Anselm, who since childhood as his biographer recounts imagined that the good Lord dwelled among the towering, snow-capped peaks of the Alps, dreamed one night that he had been invited to this splendid kingdom by God himself, who had a long and affable conversation with him and then gave him to eat "a very white bread roll" (ibid., col. 51). This dream left him with the conviction that he was called to carry out a lofty mission. At the age of 15, he asked to be admitted to the Benedictine Order but his father brought the full force of his authority to bear against him and did not even give way when his son, seriously ill and feeling close to death, begged for the religious habit as a supreme comfort. After his recovery and the premature death of his mother, Anselm went through a period of moral dissipation. He neglected his studies and, consumed by earthly passions, grew deaf to God's call. He left home and began to wander through France in search of new experiences. Three years later, having arrived in Normandy, he went to the Benedictine Abbey of Bec, attracted by the fame of Lanfranc of Pavia, the Prior. For him this was a providential meeting, crucial to the rest of his life. Under Lanfranc's guidance Anselm energetically resumed his studies and it was not long before he became not only the favourite pupil but also the teacher's confidante. His monastic vocation was rekindled and, after an attentive evaluation, at the age of 27 he entered the monastic order and was ordained a priest. Ascesis and study unfolded new horizons before him, enabling him to rediscover at a far higher level the same familiarity with God which he had had as a child.
When Lanfranc became Abbot of Caen in 1063, Anselm, after barely three years of monastic life, was named Prior of the Monastery of Bec and teacher of the cloister school, showing his gifts as a refined educator. He was not keen on authoritarian methods; he compared young people to small plants that develop better if they are not enclosed in greenhouses and granted them a "healthy" freedom. He was very demanding with himself and with others in monastic observance, but rather than imposing his discipline he strove to have it followed by persuasion. Upon the death of Abbot Herluin, the founder of the Abbey of Bec, Anselm was unanimously elected to succeed him; it was February 1079. In the meantime numerous monks had been summoned to Canterbury to bring to their brethren on the other side of the Channel the renewal that was being brought about on the continent. Their work was so well received that Lanfranc of Pavia, Abbot of Caen, became the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He asked Anselm to spend a certain period with him in order to instruct the monks and to help him in the difficult plight in which his ecclesiastical community had been left after the Norman conquest. Anselm's stay turned out to be very fruitful; he won such popularity and esteem that when Lanfranc died he was chosen to succeed him in the archiepiscopal See of Canterbury. He received his solemn episcopal consecration in December 1093.
Anselm immediately became involved in a strenuous struggle for the Church's freedom, valiantly supporting the independence of the spiritual power from the temporal. Anselm defended the Church from undue interference by political authorities, especially King William Rufus and Henry I, finding encouragement and support in the Roman Pontiff to whom he always showed courageous and cordial adherence. In 1103, this fidelity even cost him the bitterness of exile from his See of Canterbury. Moreover, it was only in 1106, when King Henry I renounced his right to the conferral of ecclesiastical offices, as well as to the collection of taxes and the confiscation of Church properties, that Anselm could return to England, where he was festively welcomed by the clergy and the people. Thus the long battle he had fought with the weapons of perseverance, pride and goodness ended happily. This holy Archbishop, who roused such deep admiration around him wherever he went, dedicated the last years of his life to the moral formation of the clergy and to intellectual research into theological topics. He died on 21 April 1109, accompanied by the words of the Gospel proclaimed in Holy Mass on that day: "You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom..." (Lk 22: 28-30). So it was that the dream of the mysterious banquet he had had as a small boy, at the very beginning of his spiritual journey, found fulfilment. Jesus, who had invited him to sit at his table, welcomed Anselm upon his death into the eternal Kingdom of the Father.
"I pray, O God, to know you, to love you, that I may rejoice in you. And if I cannot attain to full joy in this life may I at least advance from day to day, until that joy shall come to the full" (Proslogion, chapter 14). This prayer enables us to understand the mystical soul of this great Saint of the Middle Ages, the founder of scholastic theology, to whom Christian tradition has given the title: "Magnificent Doctor", because he fostered an intense desire to deepen his knowledge of the divine Mysteries but in the full awareness that the quest for God is never ending, at least on this earth. The clarity and logical rigour of his thought always aimed at "raising the mind to contemplation of God" (ibid., Proemium). He states clearly that whoever intends to study theology cannot rely on his intelligence alone but must cultivate at the same time a profound experience of faith. The theologian's activity, according to St Anselm, thus develops in three stages: faith, a gift God freely offers, to be received with humility; experience, which consists in incarnating God's word in one's own daily life; and therefore true knowledge, which is never the fruit of ascetic reasoning but rather of contemplative intuition. In this regard his famous words remain more useful than ever, even today, for healthy theological research and for anyone who wishes to deepen his knowledge of the truths of faith: "I do not endeavour, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand" (ibid., 1).
Dear brothers and sisters, may the love of the truth and the constant thirst for God that marked St Anselm's entire existence be an incentive to every Christian to seek tirelessly an ever more intimate union with Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. In addition, may the zeal full of courage that distinguished his pastoral action and occasionally brought him misunderstanding, sorrow and even exile be an encouragement for Pastors, for consecrated people and for all the faithful to love Christ's Church, to pray, to work and to suffer for her, without ever abandoning or betraying her. May the Virgin Mother of God, for whom St Anselm had a tender, filial devotion, obtain this grace for us. "Mary, it is you whom my heart yearns to love", St Anselm wrote, "it is you whom my tongue ardently desires to praise".
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, including the members of the Australian Girls Choir and the school groups from Norway and Scotland. I ask you to join me in praying that my imminent Visit to the Czech Republic will bear many spiritual fruits, and upon all of you and your families, I invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace!
My thoughts now turn to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the witness of faith and charity that motivated St Pius of Pietrelcina, whom we are commemorating today, encourage you, dear young people, to plan your future as a generous service to God and neighbour. May it help you, dear sick people, to experience in your suffering the support and comfort of the Crucified Christ. And may it impel you, dear newlyweds, to keep your family constantly attentive to the poor. Lastly, may the example of this Saint who is so popular be for priests in this Year for Priests and for all Christians an invitation to trust in God's goodness always, confidently receiving and celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, of which the Saint of the Gargano who tirelessly dispensed divine mercy was an assiduous and faithful minister.
SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20090923_en.html
Saint Anselme, âgé de vingt-huit ans, reçoit l'habit bénédictin. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm, aged 28 [actually 27], receives his habit upon entering the Benedictine Order as a novice. Panel 3 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
His father, Gundulf, was a Lombard who had become a citizen of Aosta, and his mother, Ermenberga, came of an old Burgundian family. Like many other saints, Anselm learnt the first lessons of piety from his mother, and at a very early age he was fired with the love of learning. In after life he still cherished the memories of childhood, and his biographer, Eadmer, has preserved some incidents which he had learnt from the saint's own lips. The child had heard his mother speak of God, Who dwelt on high ruling all things. Living in the mountains, he thought that Heaven must be on their lofty summits. "And while he often revolved these matters in his mind, it chanced that one night he saw in a vision that he must go up to the summit of the mountain and hasten to the court of God, the great King. But before he began to ascend the mountain, he saw in the plain through which he had passed to its foot, women, who were the King's handmaidens, reaping the corn; but they were doing this very negligently and slothfully. Then, grieving for their sloth, and rebuking them, he bethought him that he would accuse them before their Lord and King. Thereafter, having climbed the mountain he entered the royal court. There he found the King with only his cupbearer. For it seemed that, as it was now Autumn, the King had sent his household to gather the harvest. As the boy entered he was called by the Master, and drawing nigh he sat at his feet. Then with cheery kindliness he was asked who and whence he was and what he was seeking. To these questions he made answer as well as he knew. Then at the Master'scommand some moist white bread was brought him by the cupbearer and he feasted thereon in his presence, wherefore when morning came and he brought to mind the things he had seen, as a simpler and innocent child he believed that he had truly been fed in heaven with the bread of the Lord, and this he publicly affirmed in the presence of others". (Eadmer, Life of St. Anselm, I, i.) Eadmer adds that the boy was beloved by all and made rapid progress in learning. Before he was fifteen he sought admission to a monastery. But the abbot,fearing the father's displeasure, refused him. The boy then made a strange prayer. He asked for an illness, thinking this would move the monks to yield to his wishes. The illness came but his admission to themonastery was still denied him. None the less he determined to gain his end at some future date. But ere long he was drawn away by the pleasures of youth and lost his first ardour and his love of learning. His lovefor his mother in some measure restrained him. But on her death it seemed that his anchor was lost, and he was at the mercy of the waves.
At this time his father treated him with great harshness; so much so that he resolved to leave his home. Taking a single companion, he set out on foot to cross Mont Cenis. At one time he was fainting with hunger and was fain to refresh his strength with snow, when the servant found that some bread was still left in the baggage, and Anselm regained strength and continued the journey. After passing nearly three years inBurgundy and France, he came into Normandy and tarried for a while at Avranches before finding his home at the Abbey of Bec, then made illustrious by Lanfranc's learning. Anselm profited so well by the lessons of this master that he became his most familiar disciple and shared in the work of teaching. After spending some time in this labour, he began to think that his toil would have more merit if he took the monastic habit. But at first he felt some reluctance to enter the Abbey of Bec, where he would be overshadowed by Lanfranc. After atime, however, he saw that it would profit him to remain where he would be surpassed by others. His father was now dead, having ended his days in the monastic habit, and Anselm had some thought of living on his patrimony and relieving the needy. The life of a hermit also presented itself to him as a third alternative. Anxious to act with prudence he first asked the advice of Lanfranc, who referred the matter to the Archbishopof Rouen. This prelate decided in favour of the monastic life, and Anselm became a monk in the Abbey of Bec. This was in 1060. His life as a simple monk lasted for three years, for in 1063 Lanfranc was appointed Abbotof Caen, and Anselm was elected to succeed him as Prior. There is some doubt as to the date of this appointment. But Canon Poree points out that Anselm, writing at the time of his election as Archbishop(1093), says that he had then lived thirty three years in the monastic habit, three years as a monk without preferment, fifteen as prior, and fifteen as abbot (Letters of Anselm, III, vii). This is confirmed by an entry in the chronicle of the Abbey of Bec, which was compiled not later than 1136. Here it is recorded that Anselmdied in 1109, in the forty-ninth year of his monastic life and the seventy-sixth of his age, having been three years a simple monk; fifteen, prior; fifteen, abbot; and sixteen archbishop (Poree, Histoire de l'abbaye de Bec, III, 173). At first his promotion to the office vacated by Lanfranc gave offence to some of the other monkswho considered they had a better claim than the young stranger. But Anselm overcame their opposition by gentleness, and ere long had won their affection and obedience. To the duties of prior he added those of teacher. It was likewise during this period that he composed some of his philosophical and theological works, notably, the "Monologium" and the "Proslogium". Besides giving good counsel to the monks under his care, he found time to comfort others by his letters. Remembering his attraction for the solitude of a hermitage we can hardly wonder that he felt oppressed by this busy life and longed to lay aside his office and give himself up to the delights of contemplation. But the Archbishop of Rouen bade him retain his office and prepare for yet greater burdens.
This advice was prophetic, for in 1078, on the death of Herluin, founder and first Abbot of Bec Anselm waselected to succeed him. It was with difficulty that the monks overcame his reluctance to accept the office. His biographer, Eadmer, gives us a picture of a strange scene. The Abbot-elect fell prostrate before the brethren and with tears besought them not to lay this burden on him, while they prostrated themselves and earnestly begged him to accept the office. His election at once brought Anselm into relations with England, where theNorman abbey had several possessions. In the first year of his office, he visited Canterbury where he was welcomed by Lanfranc. "The converse of Lanfranc and Anselm", says Professor Freeman, "sets before us a remarkable and memorable pair. The lawyer, the secular scholar, met the divine and the philosopher; theecclesiastical statesman stood face to face with the saint. The wisdom, conscientious no doubt but still hard and worldly, which could guide churches and kingdoms in troublous times was met by the boundless love which took in all God's creatures of whatever race or species" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 442). It is interesting to note that one of the matters discussed on this occasion related to a Saxon archbishop, Elphage(&#AElig;lfheah), who had been put to death by the Danes for refusing to pay a ransom which would impoverish his people. Lanfranc doubted his claim to the honours of a martyr since he did not die for the Faith. But Anselm solved the difficulty by saying that he who died for this lesser reason would much more be ready to die for the Faith. Moreover, Christ is truth and justice and he who dies for truth and justice dies for Christ. It was on this occasion that Anselm first met Eadmer, then a young monk of Canterbury. At the same time thesaint, who in his childhood was loved by all who knew him, and who, as Prior of Bec, had won the affection of those who resisted his authority, was already gaining the hearts of Englishmen. His fame had spread far and wide, and many of the great men of the age prized his friendship and sought his counsel. Among these wasWilliam the Conqueror, who desired that Anselm might come to give him consolation on his death-bed.
When Lanfranc died, William Rufus kept the See of Canterbury vacant for four years, seized its revenues, and kept the Church in England in a state of anarchy. To many the Abbot of Bec seemed to be the man best fitted for the archbishopric. The general desire was so evident that Anselm felt a reluctance to visit England lest it should appear that he was seeking the office. At length, however, he yielded to the entreaty of Hugh, Earl ofChester and came to England in 1092. Arriving in Canterbury on the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, he was hailed by the people as their future archbishop; but he hastened away and would in no wise consent to remain for the festival. At a private interview with the King, who received him kindly, he spoke freely on theevils by which the land was made desolate. Anselm's own affairs kept him in England for some months, but when he wished to return to Bec the King objected. Meanwhile the people made no secret of their desires. With the King's permission prayers were offered in all the churches that God would move the King to deliver the Church of Canterbury by the appointment of a pastor, and at the request of the bishops Anselm drew up the form of prayer. The King fell ill early in the new year (1093), and on his sick-bed he was moved torepentance. The prelates and barons urged on him the necessity of electing an archbishop. Yielding to the manifest desire of all he named Anselm, and all joyfully concurred in the election. Anselm, however, firmly refused the honour, whereupon another scene took place still more strange than that which occurred when he was elected abbot. He was dragged by force to the King's bedside, and a pastoral staff was thrust into his closed hand; he was borne thence to the altar where the "Te Deum" was sung. There is no reason to suspect the sincerity of this resistance. Naturally drawn to contemplation, Anselm could have little liking for such an office even in a period of peace; still less could he desire it in those stormy days. He knew full well what awaited him. The King's repentance passed away with his sickness and Anselm soon saw signs of trouble. His first offence was his refusal to consent to the alienation of Church lands which the King had granted to his followers. Another difficulty arose from the King's need of money. Although his see was impoverished by the royal rapacity, the Archbishop was expected to make his majesty a free gift; and when he offered five hundred marks they were scornfully refused as insufficient. As if these trials were not enough Anselm had to bear the reproaches of some of the monks of Bec who were loath to lose him; in his letters he is at pains to show that he did not desire the office. He finally was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury 4 December, 1093. It now remained for him to go to Rome to obtain the pallium. But here was a fresh occasion of trouble. The Antipope Clement was disputing the authority of Urban II, who had been recognized by France and Normandy. It does not appear that the English King was a partisan of the Antipope, but he wished to strengthen his own position by asserting his right to decide between the rival claimants. Hence, when Anselm asked leave to go to thePope, the King said that no one in England should acknowledge either Pope till he, the King, had decided thematter. The Archbishop insisted on going to Pope Urban, whose authority he had already acknowledged, and, as he had told the King, this was one of the conditions on which alone he would accept the archbishopric. This grave question was referred to a council of the realm held at Rockingham in March, 1095. Here Anselm boldly asserted the authority of Urban. His speech is a memorable testimony to the doctrine of papal supremacy. It is significant that not one of the bishops could call it in question (Eadmer, Historia Novorum, lib. I). RegardingAnselm's belief on this point we may cite the frank words of Dean Hook: "Anselm was simply a papist — Hebelieved that St. Peter was the Prince of the Apostles — that as such he was the source of all ecclesiasticalauthority and power; that the pope was his successor; and that consequently, to the pope was due, from thebishops and metropolitans as well as from the rest of mankind, the obedience which a spiritual suzerain has the right to expect from his vassals" [Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury (London, 18(i0-75), II, 183].
William now sent envoys to Rome to get the pallium. They found Urban in possession and recognized him. Walter, Bishop of Albano, came back with them as legate bearing the pallium. The King publicly acknowledged the authority of Urban, and at first endeavoured to get Anselm deposed by the legate. Eventually a reconciliation was occasioned by the royal difficulties in Wales and in the north. The King and the Archbishopmet in peace. Anselm would not take the pallium from the King's hand; but in a solemn service at Canterburyon 10 June, 1095 it was laid on the altar by the legate, whence Anselm took it. Fresh trouble arose in 1097. On returning from his ineffectual Welsh campaign William brought a charge against the Archbishop in regard to the contingent he had furnished and required him to meet this charge in the King's court. Anselm declined and asked leave to go to Rome. This was refused, but after a meeting at Winchester Anselm was told to be ready to sail in ten days. On parting with the King, the Archbishop gave him his blessing, which William received with bowed head. At St. Omer's Anselm confirmed a multitude of persons. Christmas was spent at Cluny, and the rest of the winter at Lyons. In the spring he resumed his journey and crossed Mont Cenis with two companions all travelling as simple monks. At the monasteries on their way they were frequently asked for news of Anselm. On his arrival in Rome he was treated with great honour by the Pope. His case was considered and laid before the council, but nothing could be done beyond sending a letter of remonstrance toWilliam. During his stay in Italy Anselm enjoyed the hospitality of the Abbot of Telese, and passed the summer in a mountain village belonging to this monastery. Here he finished his work, "Cur Deus Homo", which he had begun in England. In October, 1098, Urban held a council at Bari to deal with the difficulties raised by the Greeks in regard to the procession of the Holy Ghost. Here Anselm was called by the Pope to a place ofhonour and bidden to take the chief part in the discussion. His arguments were afterwards committed to writing in his treatise on this subject. His own case was also brought before this council, which would haveexcommunicated William but for Anselm's intercession. Both he and his companions now desired to return toLyons, but were bidden to await the action of another council to be held in the Lateran at Easter. Here Anselmheard the canons passed against Investitures, and the decree of excommunication against the offenders. This incident had a deep influence on his career in England.
While still staying in the neighbourhood of Lyons, Anselm heard of the tragic death of William. Soon messages from the new king and chief men of the land summoned him to England. Landing at Dover, he hastened to King Henry at Salisbury. He was kindly received, but the question of Investitures was at once raised in an acute form. Henry required the Archbishop himself to receive a fresh investiture. Anselm alleged the decrees of the recent Roman council and declared that he had no choice in the matter. The difficulty was postponed, as the King decided to send to Rome to ask for a special exemption. Meanwhile, Anselm was able to render the King two signal services. He helped to remove the obstacle in the way of his marriage with Edith, the heiress of the Saxon kings. The daughter of St. Margaret had sought shelter in a convent, where she had worn the veil, but had taken no vows. It was thought by some that this was a bar to marriage, but Anselm had the case considered in a council at Lambeth where the royal maiden's liberty was fully established, and the Archbishophimself gave his blessing to the marriage. Moreover, when Robert landed at Portsmouth and many of theNorman nobles were wavering in their allegiance, it was Anselm who turned the tide in favour of Henry. In the meantime Pope Paschal had refused the King's request for an exemption from the Lateran decrees, yet Henrypersisted in his resolution to compel Anselm to accept investiture at his hands. The revolt of Robert de Bellesme put off the threatened rupture. To gain time the King sent another embassy to Rome. On its return,Anselm was once more required to receive investiture. The Pope's letter was not made public, but it was reported to be of the same tenor as his previous reply. The envoys now gave out that the Pope had orallyconsented to the King's request, but could not say so in writing for fear of offending other sovereigns. Friendsof Anselm who had been at Rome, disputed this assertion. In this crisis it was agreed to send to Rome again; meanwhile the King would continue to invest bishops and abbots, but Anselm should not be required toconsecrate them.
During this interval Anselm held a council at Westminster. Here stringent canons were passed against theevils of the age. In spite of the compromise about investiture, Anselm was required to consecrate bishopsinvested by the King, but he firmly refused, and it soon became evident that his firmness was taking effect.Bishops gave back the staff they had received at the royal hands, or refused to be consecrated by another in defiance of Anselm. When the Pope's answer arrived, repudiating the story of the envoys, the King askedAnselm to go to Rome himself. Though he could not support the royal request he was willing to lay the facts before the Pope. With this understanding he once more betook himself to Rome. The request was again refused, but Henry was not excommunicated. Understanding that Henry did not wish to receive him in England,Anselm interrupted his homeward journey at Lyons. In this city he received a letter from the Pope informing him of the excommunication of the counsellors who had advised the King to insist on investitures, but notdecreeing anything about the King. Anselm resumed his journey, and on the way he heard of the illness ofHenry's sister, Adela of Blois. He turned aside to visit her and on her recovery informed her that he was returning to England to excommunicate her brother. She at once exerted herself to bring about a meeting between Anselm and Henry, in July, 1105. But though a reconciliation was effected, and Anselm was urged to return to England, the claim to invest was not relinquished, and recourse had again to be made to Rome. Apapal letter authorizing Anselm to absolve from censures incurred by breaking the laws against investitureshealed past offences but made no provision for the future. At length, in a council held in London in 1107, the question found a solution. The King relinquished the claim to invest bishops and abbots, while the Church allowed the prelates to do homage for their temporal possessions. Lingard and other writers consider this a triumph for the King, saying that he had the substance and abandoned a mere form. But it was for no mereform that this long war had been waged. The rite used in the investiture was the symbol of a real power claimed by the English kings, and now at last abandoned. The victory rested with the Archbishop, and as Schwane says (Kirchenlexicon, s.v.) it prepared the way for the later solution of the same controversy in Germany. Anselm was allowed to end his days in peace. In the two years that remained he continued hispastoral labours and composed the last of his writings. Eadmer, the faithful chronicler of these contentions, gives a pleasing picture of his peaceful death. The dream of his childhood was come true; he was to climb the mountain and taste the bread of Heaven.
His active work as a pastor and stalwart champion of the Church makes Anselm one of the chief figures inreligious history. The sweet influence of his spiritual teaching was felt far and wide, and its fruits were seen in many lands. His stand for the freedom of the Church in a crisis of medieval history had far-reaching effects long after his own time. As a writer and a thinker he may claim yet higher rank, and his influence on the course of philosophy and Catholic theology was even deeper and more enduring if he stands on the one hand with Gregory VII, and Innocent III, and Thomas Becket; on the other he may claim a place beside Athanasius,Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. His merits in the field of theology have received official recognition; he has been declared a Doctor of the Church by Clement XI, 1720, and in the office read on his feast day (21 April) it is said that his works are a pattern for all theologians. Yet it may be doubted whether his position is generally appreciated by students of divinity. In some degree his work has been hidden by the fabric reared on his foundations. His books were not adopted, like those of Peter Lombard and St. Thomas, as the usual text ofcommentators and lecturers in theology, nor was he constantly cited as an authority, like St. Augustine. This was natural enough, since in the next century new methods came in with the rise of the Arabic and Aristotelean philosophy; the "Books of Sentences" were in some ways more fit for regular theological reading;Anselm was yet too near to have the venerable authority of the early Fathers. For these reasons it may be said that his writings were not properly appreciated till time had brought in other changes in the schools, andmen were led to study the history of theology. But though his works are not cast in the systematic form of the "Summa" of St. Thomas, they cover the whole field of Catholic doctrine. There are few pages of our theology that have not been illustrated by the labours of Anselm. His treatise on the procession of the Holy Spirit has helped to guide scholastic speculations on the Trinity, his "Cur Deus Homo" throws a flood of light on thetheology of the Atonement, and one of his works anticipates much of the later controversies on Free Will and Predestination. In the seventeenth century, a Spanish Benedictine, Cardinal d'Aguirre made the writings ofAnselm the groundwork of a course of theology, "S. Anselmi Theologia" (Salamanca, 1678-81). Unfortunately the work never got beyond the first three folio volumes, containing the commentaries on the "Monologium". In recent years Dom Anselm Öcsényi, O.S.B. has accomplished the task on a more modest scale in a little Latinvolume on the theology of St. Anselm, "De Theologia S. Anselmi" (Brünn, 1884).
Besides being one of the fathers of scholastic theology, Anselm fills an important place in the history ofphilosophic speculation. Coming in the first phase of the controversy on Universals, he had to meet the extreme Nominalism of Roscelin; partly from this fact, partly from his native Platonism his Realism took what may be considered a somewhat extreme form. It was too soon to find the golden mean of moderate Realism, accepted by later philosophers. His position was a stage in the process and it is significant that one of his biographers, John of Salisbury, was among the first to find the true solution.
Anselm's chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God put forth in his "Proslogium". Starting from the notion that God is "that than which nothing greater can be thought", he argues that what exists in reality is greater than that which is only in the mind; wherefore, since "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought", He exists in reality. The validity of the argument was disputed at the outset by a monk named Gaunilo, who wrote a criticism on it to which Anselm replied. Eadmer tells a curious story about St. Anselm's anxiety while he was trying to work out this argument. He could think of nothing else for days together. And when at last he saw it clearly, he was filled with joy, and made haste to commit it to writing. The waxen tablets were given in charge to one of the monks but when they were wanted they were missing. Anselm managed to recall the argument, it was written on fresh tablets and given into safer keeping. But when it was wanted it was found that the wax was broken to Pieces. Anselm with some difficulty put the fragments together and had the whole copied on parchment for greater security. The story sounds like an allegory of the fate which awaited this famous argument, which was lost and found again, pulled to pieces and restored in the course of controversy. Rejected by St. Thomas and his followers, it was revived in another form by Descartes. After being assailed by Kant, it was defended by Hegel, for whom it had a peculiar fascination — he recurs to it in many parts of his writings. In one place he says that it is generally used by later philosophers, "yet always along with the other proofs, although it alone is the true one" (German Works, XII, 547). Assailants of this argument should remember that all minds are not cast in one mould, and it is easy to understand how some can feel the force of arguments that are not felt by others. But if this proofwere indeed, as some consider it, an absurd fallacy, how could it appeal to such minds as those of Anselm,Descartes, and Hegel? It may be well to add that the argument was not rejected by all the great Schoolmen. It was accepted by Alexander of Hales (Summa, Pt. I, Q. iii, memb. 1, 2), and supported by Scotus. (In I, Dist. ii, Q. ii.) In modern times it is accepted by Möhler, who quotes Hegel's defence with approval.
It is not often that a Catholic saint wins the admiration of German philosophers and English historians. ButAnselm has this singular distinction Hegel's appreciation of his mental powers may be matched by Freeman's warm words of praise for the great Archbishop of Canterbury. "Stranger as he was, he has won his place among the noblest worthies of our island. It was something to be the model of all ecclesiastical perfection; it was something to be the creator of the theology of Christendom — but it was something higher still to be the very embodiment of righteousness and mercy, to be handed down in the annals of humanity as the man whosaved the hunted hare and stood up for the holiness of &#AElig;lfheah" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 444).
Collections of the works of St. Anselm were issued soon after the invention of printing. Ocsenyi mentions nine earlier than the sixteenth century. The first attempt at a critical edition was that of Th. Raynaud, S.J.* (Lyons, 1630), which rejects many spurious works, e.g. the Commentaries on St. Paul. The best editions are those ofDom Gerberon, O.S.B. (Paris, 1675, 1721; Venice 1744, Migne, 1845). Most of the more important works have also been issued separately — thus the "Monologium" is included in Hurter's "Opuscula SS. Patrum" and published with the "Proslogium" by Haas (Tübingen). There are numerous separate editions of the "Cur Deus Homo" and of Anselm's "Prayers and Meditations"; these last were done into English by Archbishop Laud(1638), and there are French and German versions of the "meditationes" and the "Monologium". "Cur Deus Homo" has also been translated into English and German — see also the translations by Deane (Chicago, 1903). For Anselm's views on education, see ABBEY OF BEC.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Tomas Hancil and Joseph P. Thomas.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Saint Anselme exerce les fonctions d'infirmier du monastère et conquiert par sa bonté l'amitié d'un jeune moine qui l'avait pris en antipathie. . Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm works in the monastery's infirmary and overcomes the antipathy of the monk Osborne with his good spirits. Panel 4 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Born in Aosta, Piedmont, Italy, c. 1033; died at Canterbury, England, on Holy Wednesday, April 21, 1109; canonized and included among the Doctors of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720.
"O Lord our God,
grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart;
that, so desiring, we may seek,
and, seeking, find Thee;
and so finding Thee, may love Thee;
and loving Thee, may hate those sins
from which Thou hast redeemed. Amen."
In the days of the Normans, when the roads of Europe were crowded with pilgrims and when monasteries rose on every hand, a band of wandering Italian scholars from Lombardy under the leadership of Blessed Abbot Lanfranc of Bec, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, found their way to Avranches in Normandy where they founded the most famous school in Christendom. Among these scholars and by far the most distinguished was Anselm of Aosta, whose youth had been spent in the green Alpine valleys and clear mountain air.
Anselm was a poet and a dreamer, who carried always about him something of the grandeur of his native hills. It seemed that Anselm's native intelligence might have died on the vine had he continued his education at home, but he was allowed to study later at the abbey at Aosta, where he flowered.
This first phase of his monastic education was to instill into his life an indelible fragrance. Anselm prayed and sought God on the summit of the mountains that surrounded the city of Aosta. Already his whole personality was formed: a seeker always in search of God, posing questions to which only the faith gives answers and clarifying his faith through a mind that was ceaselessly avid for new insights.
At age 15, Anselm wished to enter a monastery, but his father Gondulf, a Lombard nobleman, disapproved and prevented it. (His mother, Ermenberge, was related to the marquis of Turin and the House of Savoy.) Anselm fell gravely ill as a result. Then, unable to fulfill his dream and without spiritual support after the death of his mother, Anselm turned to the worldly which his father introduced to him.
After his complete victory, Gondulf should have been satisfied. But life defies all hopes. Instead, Gondulf developed a tenacious hatred of his son, who had been progressing along the path on which his father had set him. It was this situation that Anselm left with his home in 1056 to study in Burgundy.
While studying in Burgundy under the abbot Blessed Herluin, he became a disciple of the then prior Lanfranc and became a monk at Bec in 1060. Despite his youth (age 30), succeeded Lanfranc as prior only three years later when Lanfranc was elected abbot of Saint Stephen's in Caen. It must have been hard for one so young and inexperienced in religious life to rule his elders. But Anselm countered rudeness with gentleness, hatred with clarity, anger with an unchangeable patience.
He also had a keen and original mind. In 1078, upon the death of Herluin, founder of the abbey, the monks chose Anselm to succeed him. Anselm's marvelous erudition, his eminent virtue, and, above all, his gentleness and goodness conferred a striking prestige on him, so that many foreign monks came to place themselves under his direction. This was the origin of a vast correspondence that has been handed down to us, in which Anselm shows himself open to all needs, responds to all questions, understands all concerns. He instructed, corrected, reformed, and proposed using all means, the exact conception of monastic life which he never ceased to live at its deepest level.
The position of abbot required him to travel often to England to inspect abbey property there. In 1092, the English clergy, who had come to know him over the years, nominated Anselm to succeed Lanfranc, who had died three years earlier, in the see of Canterbury. At first, Anselm, busy with his studies and absorbed in the writing of theology, resisted the call, until he was dragged to the sick-bed of the king at Gloucester, and the pastoral staff was forced into his unwilling hand.
To the astonishment of the King William II (William Rufus), he met his match in Anselm. When Anselm finally left Bec in 1093 and arrived again in England, they king refused to allow Anselm to call the needed synods. Anselm also was confronted with a demand for a gift to the royal exchequer of 500 pounds for the king's approval of his nomination. Anselm rejected the request and rounded on the king. "Treat me as a free man," he said, "and I devote myself and all that I have to your service; but if you treat me as a slave, you shall have neither me nor mine." This resulted in Anselm's banishment from court. While some bishops supported the king, barons rallied to Anselm's cause. He left the country, and was not recalled until the following reign.
During this period Anselm retired to a mountain village where he spent the time happily in writing his great work on the Atonement, Cur Deus homo?, an attempt to explain why God had been obliged to become man in Jesus. Anselm argued that if God had merely forgiven men's sins, His mercy would have conflicted with the demands of justice. To reconcile mercy and justice an offering was needed greater than men's disobedience. Only God could make such an offering, argued Anselm, but only man ought to. Therefore, only a God-made-man could and should make it--as Jesus did on the Cross.
In 1097, Anselm travelled to Rome, where Pope Urban I upheld Anselm's nomination, refused Anselm's offered resignation, and ordered King William II to permit Anselm's return and yield back confiscated Church property.
At the pope's request, Anselm was present at the Council of Bari in 1098 and defended the filioque, the controversial doctrine on the procession of the Holy Spirit. He was instrumental in resolving the doubts of the Greek bishops in southern Italy about this issue.
At an Easter conference the indignation of Christendom was expressed at his enforced exile: "One is sitting among us from the ends of the earth, in modest silence, still and meek. But his silence is a loud cry. This one man has come here in his cruel wrongs to ask for the judgment and equity of the Apostolic See. And this is the second year, and what help has he found? If you do not all know what I mean, it is Anselm, Archbishop of England." And with these words, the bishop of Lucca, who was the speaker, struck his staff violently on the floor.
Anselm returned to Canterbury in 1100 at the request of King Henry II, successor to William Rufus, landing at Dover five months later. Almost immediately the king and Anselm were at odds over lay investiture--the new king demanded his re-induction as archbishop, but Anselm boldly refused. Anselm returned to Rome in 1103, where he confronted the pope on this issue. Pope Paschal II supported Anselm's refusal of lay investiture of bishops to King Henry. Nevertheless, Anselm remained in Rome until about 1106 or 1107.
A compromise was struck when Henry renounced his right to the investiture of bishops and abbots and Anselm agreed to pay homage to the king for temporal possessions. The reconciliation lasted for the rest of Anselm's life. The king grew to trust Anselm so much that he made him regent while he was away in Normandy in 1108.
In 1102, at a national council in Westminster, Anselm vigorously denounced slavery in emulation of Saint Wulfstan. As a pastor he encouraged the ordination of native Englishmen among his clergy, for whom he enforced celibacy; and he restored to the calendar the names of some of the English saints that he predecessor Lanfranc had removed.
Anselm stands out as a link between Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Thomas Aquinas and is called the 'father of Scholasticism.' He preferred to defend the faith by intellectual reason rather than scriptural arguments.
As the first to successfully incorporate the rationalism of Aristotlelian dialectics into theology, Anselm wrote on the existence of God in Monologium and Proslogium (deduces God's existence from man's notion of a perfect being, which influenced later great thinkers such as Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Hegel). His Cur Deus homo? was the most prominent treatise on the Atonement and Incarnation ever written. Other writings include De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu de virginali, Liber apologeticus pro insipiente, De veritate, letters, prayers, and meditations.
Anselm also rediscovered the precious maternal influence, lost since childhood, with her whom Jesus has given us for a mother. She inspired his most beautiful prayers. She gave him the soul of a child. She guided him in his constant search for God. One might think of Anselm as an old, dried up theologian. But that would be an error. Anselm's intellectual rigor was softened by the sensitivity of his mind and the generosity of his heart. He wrote, "I want to understand something of the truth which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek thus to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order that I may understand."
Anselm was one of the most human of saint and balanced of monks. Perhaps his early wanderings helped to form him so. Even after nine centuries, the charm of his personality still radiates. He himself was aware of the attraction that he held over those around him. He recognized it without any evasiveness: "All the good people who have known me have loved me, and all the more so when they knew me at close hand."
As a statesman he was deficient: the monastery, not the court, was where he was comfortable. Many incidents recorded of his life testify to the attractiveness of his personal character. In the Paradiso (canto XII), Dante mentions him among the spirits of light and power in the Sphere of the Sun.
Thus Anselm, the man who never wished to be archbishop and who refused it at first with clenched hands, secured the freedom of the Church against lawless tyranny and secular obstruction in a despotic age. As a statesman and scholar, by his courage and patience, and in grace and piety, he was the outstanding ecclesiastic of his day. His biography was written by his own secretary, the monk Eadmer of Christ Church, Canterbury, who recorded Anselm's life in meticulous detail (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Church, Encyclopedia, Gill, Southern, White).
In art, Anselm is depicted as an archbishop or a Benedictine monk, (1) admonishing an evildoer; (2) with Our Lady or Virgin and Child appearing to him; (3) with a ship; or (4) exorcising a monk (Roeder, White). He is venerated at Aosta and Turin (Roeder).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0421.shtml
Dieu révèle ;a Anselme l'état de conscience des religieux du monastère. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
God grants St Anselm a religious spirit. Panel 5 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury
Dieu communique à Anselme des lumières abondantes et une science miraculeuse. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
God displays His abundant light and a miraculous knowledge to St Anselm. Panel 6 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Étant devenu abbé du Bec, Anselme se fait le père des pauvres. . Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
As abbot of Bec, St Anselm helps the poor. Panel 7 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Saint Anselme réussit à toucher pour un temps le cœur du mauvais roi d'Angleterre Guillaume-le-Roux. . Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
For a time, St Anselm touches the heart of the evil king of England, William the Red. Panel 8 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Au monastère de la Chaize-Dieu, il éteint un incendie par le signe de la Croix. (Ce médaillon aurait dû être le 15e.) . . Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
At the monastery of Chaize-Dieu, St Anselm puts out a fire with the sign of the Cross. Panel 9—really, 15—of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Saint Anselme est promu à l'archevêché de Cantorbéry. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm is consecrated as the archbishop of Canterbury. Panel 10 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Difficultés de l'archevêque et du roi au sujet des biens de l'Église et de l'indépendance épiscopale en Angleterre.. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm's first exile from England, owing to differences between the archbishop and the king over the lands and independence of the Church. (His clothes are those of a pilgrim.) Panel 11 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Saint Anselme devant le bienheureux pape Urbain II... Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselme before Pope Urban II. Panel 12 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Saint-Anselme fait jaillir une fontaine dans un domaine de l'abbaye de Saint-Sauveur aux environs de Capoue.Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
St Anselm brings forth a new spring at the Abbey of the Holy Savior (San Salvatore) near Capua. Panel 13 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Au Concile de Bari, devant 123 évêques, saint Anselme, pour réfuter l'erreur des Grecs, prononce son discours sur la Procession du Saint-Esprit. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
At the Council of Bari, before 123 [actually, 185] bishops, St Anselme speaks against the continuing Greek adherence to the true Nicene Creed, an argument later compiled as his De Processione Spiritus Sancti ("On the Procession of the Holy Spirit"). Panel 14 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
Après la mort de Guillaume-le-Roux, Henri Ier ayant rappelé le primat d'Angleterre, saint Anselme retourne à son Église de CantorbéryVitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
After the death of William the Red, Henry I restored St Anselm as the primate of England and he returned to his church at Canterbury. Panel 15 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
1. Amid the general troubles of the time and the recent disasters at home which afflict Us, there is surely consolation and comfort for Us in that recent display of devotion of the whole Christian people which still continues to be “a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men” (1st Corinthians 4:9), and which, if it has now been called forth so generously by the advent of misfortune, has its one true cause in the charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For since there is not and there cannot be in the world any charity worthy of the name except through Christ, to Him alone must be attributed all the fruits of it, even in men of lax faith or hostile to religion, who are indebted for whatever vestiges of charity they may possess to the civilization introduced by Christ, which they have not yet succeeded in throwing off entirely and expelling from human society.
2. For this mighty movement of those who would console their Father and help their brethren in their public and private afflictions, words can hardly express Our emotion and Our gratitude. These feelings We have already made known on more than one occasion to individuals, but We cannot delay any longer to give a public expression of Our thanks, first of all, to you, venerable brethren, and through you to all the faithful entrusted to your care.
3. So, too, We would make public profession of Our gratitude for the many striking demonstrations of affection and reverence which have been offered Us by Our most beloved children in all parts of the world on the occasion of Our sacerdotal jubilee. Most grateful have they been to Us, not so much for Our own sake as for the sake of religion and the Church, as being a profession of fearless faith, and, as it were, a public manifestation of due honor to Christ and His Church, by the respect shown to him whom the Lord has placed over His family. Other fruits of the same kind, too, have greatly rejoiced Us; the celebrations with which dioceses in North America have commemorated the centenary of their foundation, returning everlasting thanks to god for having added so many children to the Catholic Church; the splendid sight presented by the most noble island of Britain in the restored honor paid with such wonderful pomp within its confines to the Blessed Eucharist, in the presence of a dense multitude, and with a crown formed of Our venerable brethren, and of Our own Legate; and in France where the afflicted Church dried her tears to see such brilliant triumphs of the August Sacrament, especially in the town of Lourdes, the fiftieth anniversary of whose origin We have also been rejoiced to witness commemorated with such solemnity. In these and other facts all must see, and let the enemies of Catholicism be persuaded of it, that the splendor of ceremonial, and the devotion paid to the August Mother of God, and even the filial homage offered to the Supreme Pontiff, are all destined finally for the glory of God, that Christ may be all and in all (Coloss. iii. II), that the Kingdom of God may be established on earth, and eternal salvation gained for men.
4. This triumph of God on earth, both in individuals and in society, is but the return of the erring to God through Christ, and to Christ through the Church, which We announced as the programme of Our Pontificate both in Our first Apostolic Letters “E supremi Apostolatus Cathedra” (Encyclica diei 4 Octobris MDCCCCIII.), and many times since then. To this return We look with confidence, and plans and hopes are all designed to lead to it as to a port in which the storms even of the present life are at rest. And this is why We are grateful for the homage paid to the Church in Our humble person, as being, with God’s help, a sign of the return of the Nations to Christ and a closer union with Peter and the Church.
5. This affectionate union, varying in intensity according to time and place, and differing in its mode of expression, seems in the designs of Providence to grow stronger as the times grow more difficult for the cause of sound teaching, of sacred discipline, of the liberty of the Church. We have examples of this in the Saints of other centuries, whom God raised up to resist by their virtue and wisdom the fury of persecution against the Church and the diffusion of iniquity in the world. One of these We wish especially in these Letters to commemorate, now that the eighth centenary of his death is being solemnly celebrated. We mean the Doctor Anselm of Aosta, most vigorous exponent of Catholic truth and defender of the rights of the Church, first as Monk and Abbot in France. and later as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate in England. It is not inappropriate, We think, after the Jubilee Feasts, celebrated with unwonted splendor, of two other Doctors of Holy Church, Gregory the Great and John Chrysostom, one the light of the Western, the other of the Eastern Church, to fix our gaze on this other star which, if it “differs in brightness” (I. Cor. xv. 41) from them, yet compares well with them in their course, and sheds abroad a light of doctrine and example not less salutary than theirs. Nay, in some respects it might be said even more salutary, inasmuch as Anselm is nearer to us in time, place, temperament, studies, and there is a closer similarity with our own days in the nature of the conflicts borne by him, in the kind of pastoral activity he displayed, in the method of teaching applied and largely promoted by him, by his disciples, by his writings, all composed “in defense of the Christian religion, for the benefit of souls, and for the guidance of all theologians who were to teach sacred letters according to the scholastic method” (Breviar. Rom., die 21 Aprilis). Thus as in the darkness of the night while some stars are setting others rise to light the world, so the sons succeed to the Fathers to illumine the Church, and among these Saint Anselm shone forth as a most brilliant star.
6. In the eyes of the best of his contemporaries Anselm seemed to shine as a luminary of sanctity and learning amid the darkness of the error and iniquity of the age in which he lived. He was in truth a “prince of the faith, an ornament of the Church . . . a glory of the episcopate, a man outranking all the great men” of his time (“Epicedion in obitum Anselmi”), “both learned and good and brilliant in speech, a man of splendid intellect” (“In Epitaphio”) whose reputation was such that it has been well written of him that there was no man in the world then “who would say: Anselm is less than I, or like me” (“Epicedion in obitum Anselmi”), and hence esteemed by kings, princes, and supreme pontiffs, as well as by his brethren in religion and by the faithful, nay, “beloved even by his enemies” (Ib.). While he was still Abbot the great and most powerful Pontiff Gregory VII wrote him letters breathing esteem and affection and “recommending the Catholic Church and himself to his prayers” (Breviar. Rom.. die 21 Aprilis): to him also wrote Urban II recognizing “his distinction in religion and learning” (In libro 2 Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 32); in many and most affectionate letters Paschal 11 extolled his “reverent devotion, strong faith, his pious and persevering zeal, his authority in religion and knowledge” (In lib. 3 Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 74 et 42), which easily induced the Pontiff to accede to his requests and made him not hesitate to call him the most learned and devout of the bishops of England.
7. And yet Anselm in his own eyes was but a despicable and unknown good-for-nothing, a man of no parts, sinful in his life. Nor did this great modesty and most sincere humility detract in the least from his high thinking, whatever may be said to the contrary by men of depraved life and judgment, of whom the Scripture says that “the animal man understandeth not the things of the spirit of God” (I Cor. ii. 14). And more wonderful still, greatness of soul and unconquerable constancy, tried in so many ways by troubles, attacks, exiles, were in him blended with such gentle and pleasing manners that he was able to calm the angry passions of his enemies and win the hearts of those who were enraged against him, so that the very men “to whom his cause was hostile” praised him because he was good (“Epicedion in obitum Anselmi”).
8. Thus in him there existed a wonderful harmony between qualities which the world falsely judges to be irreconcilable and contradictory: simplicity and greatness, humility and magnanimity, strength and gentleness, knowledge and piety, so that both in the beginning and throughout the whole course of his religious life “he was singularly esteemed by all as a model of sanctity and doctrine” (Breviar. Rom., die 21 Aprilis).
9. Nor was this double merit of Anselm confined within the walls of his own household or within the limits of the school—it went forth thence as from a military tent into the dust and the glare of the highway. For, as We have already hinted, Anselm fell on difficult days and had to undertake fierce battles in defense of justice and truth. Naturally inclined though he was to a life of contemplation and study, he was obliged to plunge into the most varied and most important occupations even those affecting the government of the Church, and thus to be drawn into the worst turmoils of his agitated age. With his sweet and most gentle temperament he was forced, out of love for sound doctrine and for the sanctity of the Church, to give up a life of peace, the friendship of the great ones of the world, the favors of the powerful, the united affection, which he at first enjoyed, of his very brethren in troubles of all kinds. Thus, finding England full of hatred and dangers, he was forced to oppose a vigorous resistance to kings and princes, usurpers and tyrants over the Church and the people, against weak or unworthy ministers of the sacred office, against the ignorance and vice of the great and small alike; ever a valiant defender of the faith and morals, of the discipline and liberty, and therefore also of the sanctity and doctrine, of the Church of God, and thus truly worthy of that further encomium of Paschal: “Thanks be to God that in you the authority of the Bishop ever prevails, and that, although set in the midst of barbarians, you are not deterred from announcing the truth either by the violence of tyrants,” or the favor of the powerful, neither by the flame of fire or the force of arms; and again: “We rejoice because by the grace of God you are neither disturbed by threats nor moved by promises” (In lib. iii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 44 et 74).
10. In view of all this, it is only right, venerable brethren, that We, after a lapse of eight centuries, should rejoice like Our Predecessor Paschal, and, echoing his words, return thanks, to God. But, at the same time, it is a pleasure for Us to be able to exhort you to fix your eyes on this luminary of doctrine and sanctity, who, rising here in Italy, shone for over thirty years upon France, for more than fifteen years upon England, and finally upon the whole Church, as a tower of strength and beauty.
11. And if Anselm was great “in works and in words,” if in his knowledge and his life, in contemplation and activity, in peace and strife, he secured splendid triumphs for the Church and great benefits for society, all this must be ascribed to his close union with Christ and the Church throughout the whole course of his life and ministry.
12. Recalling all these things, venerable brethren, with special interest during the solemn commemoration of the great Doctor, we shall find in them splendid examples for our admiration and imitation; nay, reflection on them will also furnish Us with strength and consolation amid the pressing cares of the government of the Church and of the salvation of souls, helping Us never to fail in our duty of co-operating with all our strength in order that all things may be restored in Christ, that “Christ may be formed” in all souls (Galat. iv. 19), and especially in those which are the hope of the priesthood, of maintaining unswervingly the doctrine of the Church, of defending strenuously the liberty of the Spouse of Christ, the inviolability of her divine rights, and the plenitude of those safeguards which the protection of the Sacred Pontificate requires.
13. For you are aware, venerable brethren, and you have often lamented it with Us, how evil are the days on which we have fallen, and how iniquitous the conditions which have been forced upon Us. Even in the unspeakable sorrow We felt in the recent public disasters, Our wounds were opened afresh by the shameful charges invented against the clergy of being behindhand in rendering assistance after the calamity, by the obstacles raised to hide the beneficent action of the Church on behalf of the afflicted, by the contempt shown even for her maternal care and forethought. We say nothing of many other things injurious to the Church, devised with treacherous cunning or flagrantly perpetrated in violation of all public right and in contempt of all natural equity and justice. Most grievous, too, is the thought that this has been done in countries in which the stream of civilization has been most abundantly fed by the Church. For what more unnatural sight could be witnessed than that of some of those children whom the Church has nourished and cherished as her first-born, her flower and her strength, in their rage turning their weapons against the very bosom of the Mother that has loved them so much! And there are other countries which give us but little cause for consolation, in which the same war, under a different form, has either broken out already or is being prepared by dark machinations. For there is a movement in those nations which have benefited most from Christian civilization to deprive the Church of her rights, to treat her as though she were not by nature and by right the perfect society that she is, instituted by Christ Himself, the Redeemer of our nature, and to destroy her reign, which, although primarily and directly affecting souls, is not less helpful for their eternal salvation than for the welfare of human society; efforts of all kinds are being made to supplant the kingdom of God by a reign of license under the lying name of liberty. And to bring about by the rule of vices and lusts the triumph of the worst of all slaveries and bring the people headlong to their ruin—”for sin makes peoples wretched” (Prov. xiv. 34)—the cry is ever raised: “We will not have this man reign over us” (Luc. xix. 14). Thus the religious Orders, always the strong shield and the ornament of the Church, and the promotors of the most salutary works of science and civilization among uncivilized and civilized peoples, have been driven out of Catholic countries; thus the works of Christian beneficence have been weakened and circumscribed as far as possible, thus the ministers of religion have been despised and mocked, and, wherever that was possible, reduced to powerlessness and inertia; the paths to knowledge and to the teaching office have been either closed to them or rendered extremely difficult, especially by gradually removing them from the instruction and education of youth; Catholic undertakings of public utility have been thwarted; distinguished laymen who openly profess their Catholic faith have been turned into ridicule, persecuted, kept in the background as belonging to an inferior and outcast class, until the coming of the day, which is being hastened by ever more iniquitous laws, when they are to be utterly ostracized from public affairs. And the authors of this war, cunning and pitiless as it is, boast that they are waging it through love of liberty, civilization, and progress, and, were you to believe them, through a spirit of patriotism—in this lie too resembling their father, who “was a murderer from the beginning, and when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar” (Ioan. viii. 44), and raging with hate insatiable against God and the human race. Brazen-faced men these, seeking to create confusion by their words, and to lay snares for the ears of the simple. No, it is not patriotism, or zealous care for the people, or any other noble aim, or desire to promote good of any kind, that incites them to this bitter war, but blind hatred which feeds their mad plan to weaken the Church and exclude her from social life, which makes them proclaim her as dead, while they never cease to attack her—nay, after having despoiled her of all liberty, they do not hesitate in their brazen folly to taunt her with her powerlessness to do anything for the benefit of mankind or human government. From the same hate spring the cunning misrepresentations or the utter silence concerning the most manifest services of the Church and the Apostolic See, when they do not make of our services a cause of suspicion which with wily art they insinuate into the ears and the minds of the masses, spying and travestying everything said or done by the Church as though it concealed some impending danger for society, whereas the plain truth is that it is mainly from Christ through the Church that the progress of real liberty and the purest civilization has been derived.
14. Concerning this war from outside, waged by the enemy without, “by which the Church is seen to be assailed on all sides, now in serried and open battle, now by cunning and by wily plots,” We have frequently warned your vigilance, venerable brethren, and especially in the Allocution We delivered in the Consistory of December 16, 1907.
15. But with no less severity and sorrow have We been obliged to denounce and to put down another species of war, intestine and domestic, and all the more disastrous the more hidden it is. Waged by unnatural children, nestling in the very bosom of the Church in order to rend it in silence, this war aims more directly at the very root and the soul of the Church. They are trying to corrupt the springs of Christian life and teaching, to scatter the sacred deposit of the faith, to overthrow the foundations of the divine constitution by their contempt for all authority, pontifical as well as episcopal, to put a new form on the Church, new laws, new principles, according to the tenets of monstrous systems, in short to deface all the beauty of the Spouse of Christ for the empty glamour of a new culture, falsely called science, against which the Apostle frequently puts us on our guard: “Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ (Colos. ii. 8).
16. By this figment of false philosophy and this shallow and fallacious erudition, joined with a most audacious system of criticism, some have been seduced and “become vain in their thoughts” (Rom. i. 1), “having rejected good conscience they have made shipwreck concerning the faith” (I Tim. i. 19), they are being tossed about miserably on the waves of doubt, knowing not themselves at what port they must land; others, wasting both time and study, lose themselves in the investigation of abstruse trifling, and thus grow estranged from the study of divine things and of the real springs of doctrine. This hot-bed of error and perdition (which has come to be known commonly as modernism from its craving for unhealthy novelty) although denounced several times and unmasked by the very excesses of its adepts, continues to be a most grave and deep evil. It lurks like poison in the vitals of modern society, estranged as this is from God and His Church, and it is especially eating its way like a cancer among the young generations which are naturally the most inexperienced and heedless. It is not the result of solid study and true knowledge, for there can be no real conflict between reason and faith (Concil. Vatic., Constit. Dei filius, cap. 4). But it is the result of intellectual pride and of the pestiferous atmosphere that prevails of ignorance or confused knowledge of the things of religion, united with the stupid presumption of speaking about and discussing them. And this deadly infection is further fomented by a spirit of incredulity and of rebellion against God, so that those who are seized by the blind frenzy for novelty consider that they are all sufficient for themselves, and that they are at liberty to throw off either openly or by subterfuge the entire yoke of divine authority, fashioning for themselves according to their own caprice a vague, naturalistic individual religiosity, borrowing the name and some semblance of Christianity but with none of its life and truth.
17. Now in all this it is not difficult to recognize one of the many forms of the eternal war waged against divine truth, and one that is all the more dangerous from the fact that its weapons are craftily concealed with a covering of fictitious piety, ingenuous candor, and earnestness, in the hands of factious men who use them to reconcile things that are absolutely irreconcilable, viz., the extravagances of a fickle human science with divine faith, and the spirit of a frivolous world with the dignity and constancy of the Church.
18. But if you see all this, venerable brethren,. and deplore it bitterly with Us, you are not therefore cast down or without all hope. You know of the great conflicts that other times have brought upon the Christian people, very different though they were from our own days. We have but to turn again to the age in which Anselm lived, so full of difficulties as it appears in the annals of the Church. Then indeed was it necessary to fight for the altar and the home, for the sanctity of public law, for liberty, civilization, sound doctrine, of all of which the Church alone was the teacher and the defender among the nations, to curb the violence of princes who arrogated to themselves the right of treading upon the most sacred liberties, to eradicate the vices, ignorance, and uncouthness of the people, not yet entirely stripped of their old barbarism and often enough refractory to the educating influence of the Church, to rouse a part of the clergy who had grown lax or lawless in their conduct, inasmuch as not infrequently they were selected arbitrarily and according to a perverse system of election by the princes, and controlled by and bound to these in all things.
19. Such was the state of things notably in those countries on whose behalf Anselm especially labored, either by his teaching as master, by his example as religious, or by his assiduous vigilance and many-sided activity as Archbishop and Primate. For his great services were especially accomplished for the provinces of Gaul which a few centuries before had fallen into the hands of the Normans, and by the islands of Britain which only a few centuries before had come to the Church. In both countries the convulsions caused by revolutions within and wars without gave rise to looseness of discipline both among the rulers and their subjects, among the clergy and the people.
20. Abuses like these were bitterly lamented by the great men of the time, such as Lanfranc, Anselm’s master and later his predecessor in the see of Canterbury, and still more by the Roman Pontiffs, among whom it will suffice to mention here the courageous Gregory VII, the intrepid champion of justice, unswerving defender of the rights of the Church, vigilant guardian and defender of the sanctity of the clergy.
21. Strong in their example and rivaling them in their zeal, Anselm also lamented the same evils, writing thus to a prince of his people, and one who rejoiced to describe himself as his relation by blood and affection: “You see, my dearest Lord, how the Church of God, our Mother, whom God calls His Fair One and His Beloved Spouse, is trodden underfoot by bad princes, how she is placed in tribulation for their eternal damnation by those to whom she was recommended by God as to protectors who would defend her, with what presumption they have usurped for their own uses the things that belong to her, the cruelty with which they despise and violate religion and her law. Disdaining obedience to the decrees of the Apostolic See, made for the defense of religion, they surely convict themselves of disobedience to the Apostle Peter whose place he holds, nay, to Christ who recommended His Church to Peter. . . Because they who refuse to be subject to the law of God are surely reputed the enemies of God” (Epist. lib. iii. epist. 65). Thus wrote Anselm, and would that his words had been treasured by the successor and the descendants of that most potent prince, and by the other sovereigns and peoples who were so loved and counseled and served by him.
22. But persecution, exile, spoliation, the trials and toils of hard fighting, far from shaking, only rooted deeper Anselm’s love for the Church and the Apostolic See. “I fear no exile, or poverty or torments or death, because, while God strengthens me, for all these things my heart is prepared for the sake of the obedience due to the Apostolic See and the liberty of the Church of Christ, my Mother,” (Ib. lib. iii. ep. 73), he wrote to Our Predecessor Paschal amid his greatest difficulties. And if he has recourse to the Chair of Peter for protection and help, the sole reason is: “Lest through me and on account of me the constancy of ecclesiastical devotion and Apostolic authority should ever be in the least degree weakened.” And then he gives his reason, which for Us is the badge of pastoral dignity and strength: “I would rather die, and while I live I would rather undergo penury in exile, rather than see the honor of the Church of God dimmed in the slightest degree on my account or through my example” (Ib. Lib. iv. ep. 47).
23. That same honor, liberty, and purity of the Church is ever in his mind; he yearns for it with sighs, prayers, sacrifices; he works for it with all his might both in vigorous resistance and in manly patience; and he defends it by his acts, his writings, his words. He recommends it in language strong and sweet to his brethren in religion; to the bishops, the clergy, and to all the faithful; but with more of severity to those princes who outraged it to the great injury of themselves and their subjects.
24. These noble appeals for sacred liberty have a timely echo in our days on the lips of those “whom the Holy Ghost has placed to rule the Church of God” (Act. xx 28)—timely even though they were to find no hearing by reason of the decay of faith or the perversity of men or the blindness of prejudice. To Us, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, are especially addressed the words of the Lord: “Cry out give yourself no rest, raise your voice like a trumpet” (Isai. lviii. I), and all the more that “the Most High has made His voice heard” (Psalmus xvii. 14), in the trembling of nature and in tremendous calamities: “the voice of the Lord shaking the earth,” ringing in our ears a terrible warning and bringing home to us the hard lesson that all but the eternal is vanity, that “we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come (Hebr. xiii. 14), but, also, a voice not only of justice, but of mercy and of wholesome reminder to the erring nations. In the midst of these public calamities it behooves us to cry aloud and make known the great truths of the faith not only to the people, to the humble, the afflicted, but to the powerful and the rich, to them that decide and govern the policy of nations, to make known to all the great truths which history confirms by its great and disastrous lessons such as that “sin makes the nations miserable” (Prov. xiv. 34), “that a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule” (Sap. vi. 7), with the admonition of Psalm ii.: “And now, ye kings, understand; receive instruction, you that judge the earth. Serve the Lord with fear … embrace discipline lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.” More bitter shall be the consequences of these threats when the vices of society are being multiplied, when the sin of rulers and of the people consists especially in the exclusion of God and in rebellion against the Church of Christ: that double social apostasy which is the deplorable fount of anarchy, corruption, and endless misery for the individual and for society.
25. And since silence or indolence on our part, as unfortunately is not infrequently the case among the good, would incriminate us too, let every one of the sacred Pastors take as said to himself for the defense of his flock, and bring home to others in due season, Anselm’s words to the mighty Prince of Flanders: “As you are my Lord and truly beloved by me in God, I pray, conjure, admonish and counsel you, as the guardian of your soul, not to believe that your lofty dignity is diminished if you love and defend the liberty of the Spouse of God and your Mother, the Church, not to think that you abase yourself when you exalt her, not to believe that you weaken yourself when you strengthen her. Look round you and see; the examples are before you; consider the princes that attack and maltreat her, what do they gain by it, what do they attain? It is so clear that there is no need to say it” (Epist., lib. iv. ep. 32). And all this he explains with his usual force and gentleness to the powerful Baldwin, King of Jerusalem: “As your faithful friend, I pray, admonish, and conjure you, and I pray God that you live under God’s law and in all things submit your will to the will of God. For it is only when you reign according to the will of God that you reign for your own welfare. Nor permit yourself to believe, like so many bad kings, that the Church of God has been given to you that you may use her as a servant, but remember that she has been recommended to you as an advocate and defender.” In this world God loves nothing more than the liberty of His Church. “They who seek not so much to serve as to rule her, are clearly acting in opposition to God. God wills His Spouse to be free and not a slave. Those who treat her and honor her as sons surely show that they are her sons and the sons of God, while those who lord it over her, as over a subject, make themselves not children but strangers to her, and are therefore excluded from the heritage and the dower promised to her” (Ibid. ep. 8). Thus did he unbosom his heart so full of love for the Church; thus did he show his zeal in defense of her liberty, so necessary in the government of the Christian family and so dear to God, as the same great Doctor concisely affirmed in the energetic words: “In this world God loves nothing more than the liberty of His Church.” Nor can We, venerable brethren, make known to you Our feelings better than by repeating that beautiful expression.
26. Equally opportune are other admonitions addressed by the Saint to the powerful. Thus, for example, he wrote to Queen Matilda of England: “If you wish in very deed to return thanks rightly and well and efficaciously to God, take into your consideration that Queen whom He was pleased to select for His Spouse in this world. . . Take her, I say, into your consideration, exalt her, that with her and in her you may be able to please God and reign with her in eternal bliss” (Epist., lib. iii. ep. 57). And especially when you chance to meet with some son who puffed up with earthly greatness lives unmindful of his mother, or hostile or rebellious to her, then remember that: “it is for you to suggest frequently, in season and out of season, these and other admonitions, and to suggest that he show himself not the master but the advocate, not the step-son but the real son of the Church” (Ibid. ep. 59). It behooves Us, too, Us especially, to inculcate that other saying so noble and so paternal of Anselm: “Whenever I hear anything of you displeasing to God and unbecoming to yourselves, and fail to admonish you, I do not fear God nor love you as I ought” (Ibid. Lib. iv. ep. 52). And especially when it comes to Our ears that you treat the churches in your power in a manner unworthy of them and of your own soul, then, We should imitate Anselm by renewing Our prayers, counsels, admonitions “that you think over these things carefully and if your conscience warns you that there is something to be corrected in them that you hasten to make the correction” (Epist., lib. iv. epist. 32). “For nothing is to be neglected that can be corrected, since God demands an account from all not only of the evil they do but also of the correction of evil which they can correct. And the more power men have to make the necessary correction the more vigorously does He require them, according to the power mercifully communicated to them, to think and act rightly . . . And if you cannot do everything all at once, you must not on that account cease your efforts to advance from better to better, because God in His goodness is wont to bring to perfection good intentions and good effort, and to reward them with blessed plenitude” (Ibid. Lib. iii. epist. 142).
27. These and similar admonitions, most wise and holy, given by Anselm even to the lords and kings of the world, may well be repeated by the pastors and princes of the Church, as the natural defenders of truth, justice, and religion in the world. In our times, indeed, the obstacles in the way of doing this have been enormously increased so that there is, in truth, hardly room to stand without difficulty and danger. For while unbridled license reigns supreme the Church is obstinately fettered, the very name of liberty is mocked, and new devices are constantly being invented to thwart the work of yourselves and your clergy, so that it is no wonder that “you are not able to do everything all at once” for the correction of the erring, the suppression of abuses, the promotion of right ideas and right living, and the mitigation of the evils which weigh on the Church.
28. But there is comfort for us: the Lord liveth and “He will make all things work together unto good to them that love God” (Rom. viii. 28). Even from these evils He will bring good, and above all the obstacles devised by human perversity He will make more splendid the triumph of His work and of His Church. Such is the wonderful design of the Divine Wisdom and such “His unsearchable ways” (Ib. xi. 33) in the present order of Providence—”for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways, said the Lord” (Isai. Iv. 8)—that the Church of Christ is destined ever to renew in herself the life of her Divine Founder who suffered so much, and in a manner to “fill up what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ” (Coloss. i. 24). Hence her condition as militant on earth divinely constrains her to live in the midst of contentions, troubles, and difficulties, that thus “through many tribulations she may enter into the kingdom of God” (Act. xiv. 21), and at last be united with the Church triumphant in heaven.
29. Anselm’s commentary on the passage of Saint Matthew: ” Jesus constrained His disciples to enter the boat,” is directly to the point: “The words in their mystical sense summarize the state of the Church from the coming of Jesus Christ to the end of the world. The ship, then, was buffeted by the waves in the midst of the sea, while Jesus remained on the summit of the mountain; for ever since the Savior ascended to heaven holy Church has been agitated by great tribulations in the world, buffeted by various storms of persecution, harassed by the divers perversities of the wicked, and in many ways assailed by vice. Because the wind was contrary, because the influence of malign spirits is constantly opposed to her to prevent her from reaching the port of salvation, striving to submerge her under the opposing waves of the world, stirring up against her all possible difficulties” (Hom. iii. 22).
30. They err greatly, therefore, who lose faith during the storm, wishing for themselves and the Church a permanent state of perfect tranquillity, universal prosperity, and practical, unanimous and uncontested recognition of her sacred authority. But the error is worse when men deceive themselves with the idea of gaining an ephemeral peace by cloaking the rights and interests of the Church, by sacrificing them to private interests, by minimizing them unjustly, by truckling to the world, “the whole of which is seated in wickedness” (I Ioan. v. 19) on the pretext of reconciling the followers of novelties and bringing them back to the Church, as though any composition were possible between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial. This hallucination is as old as the world, but it is always modern and always present in the world so long as there are soldiers who are timid or treacherous, and at the first onset ready to throw down their arms or open negotiations with the enemy, who is the irreconcilable enemy of God and man.
Mort de saint Anselme. Vitrail de Saint-Anselme. La cathédrale Saint-Corentin à Quimper dans le Finistère.
The death of St Anselm. Panel 16 of the Vitrail of The Life of St Anselm in St Corentin Cathedral in Quimper, Finistère, Brittany, France.
31. It is for you, therefore, venerable brethren, whom Divine Providence has constituted to be the pastors and leaders of the Christian people, to resist with all your strength this most fatal tendency of modern society to lull itself in a shameful indolence while war is being waged against religion, seeking a cowardly neutrality made up of weak schemes and compromises to the injury of divine and human rights, to the oblivion of Christ’s clear sentence: “He that is not with me is against me” (Matt. xii. 30). Not indeed that it is not well at times to waive our rights as far as may lawfully be done and as the good of souls requires. And certainly this defect can never be charged to you who are spurred on by the charity of Christ. But this is only a reasonable condescension, which can be made without the slightest detriment to duty, and which does not at all affect the eternal principles of truth and justice.
32. Thus we read how it was verified in the cause of Anselm, or rather in the cause of God and the Church, for which Anselm had to undergo such long and bitter conflicts. And when he had settled at last the long contest Our Predecessor Paschal II wrote to him: “We believe that it has been through your charity and through your persistent prayers that the Divine mercy has been persuaded to turn to the people entrusted to your care.” And referring to the paternal indulgence shown by the Supreme Pontiff to the guilty, he adds: “As regards the great indulgence We have shown, know that it is the fruit of Our great affection and compassion in order that We might be able to lift up those who were down. For if the one standing erect merely holds out his hand to a fallen man, he will never lift him unless he too bends down a little. Besides, although this act of stooping may seem like the act of falling, it never goes so far as to lose the equilibrium of rectitude” (In lib. iii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 140).
33. In making our own these words of Our most pious Predecessor, written for the consolation of Anselm, We would not hide Our very keen sense of the danger which confronts the very best among the pastors of the Church of passing the just limit either of indulgence or resistance. How they have realized this danger is easily to be seen in the anxieties, trepidations, and tears of most holy men who have had borne in upon them the terrible responsibility of the government of souls and the greatness of the danger to which they are exposed, but it is to be seen most strikingly in the life of Anselm. When he was torn from the solitude of the studious life of the cloister, to be raised to a lofty dignity in most difficult times, he found himself a prey to the most tormenting solicitude and anxiety, and chief of all the fear that he might not do enough for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his people, for the honor of God and of His Church. But amid all these anxieties and in the grief he felt at seeing himself abandoned culpably by many, even including his brethren in the episcopate, his one great comfort was his trust in God and in the Apostolic See. Threatened with shipwreck, and while the storm raged round him, he took refuge in the bosom of the Church, his Mother, invoking from the Roman Pontiff pitiful and prompt aid and comfort (Epistol. lib. iii. ep. 37); God, perhaps, permitted that this great man, full of wisdom and sanctity as he was, should suffer such heavy tribulation, in order that he might be a comfort and an example to us in the greatest difficulties and trials of the pastoral ministry, and that the sentence of Paul might be realized in each one of us: “Gladly will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities . . . for when I am weak then am I powerful” (2 Cor. xii. 9, 10). Such indeed are the sentiments which Anselm expressed to Urban II.: “Holy Father, I am grieved that I am not what I was, grieved to be a bishop, because by reason of my sins I do not perform the office of a bishop. While I was in a lowly position, I seemed to be doing something; set in a lofty place, burdened by an immense weight, I gain no fruit for myself, and am of no use to anybody. I give way beneath the burden because I am incredibly poor in the strength, virtue, zeal, and knowledge necessary for so great an office. I would fain flee from the insupportable anxiety and leave the burden behind me, but, on the other hand, I fear to offend God. The fear of God obliged me to accept it, the same fear of God constrains me to retain the same burden. Now, since God’s will is hidden from me, and I know not what to do, I wander about in sighs, and know not how to put an end to it all” (Epist. Lib. iii. ep. 37).
34. Thus does God bring home even to saintly men their natural weakness, in order the better to make manifest in them the power of strength from above, and, by a humble and real sense of their individual insufficiency, to preserve with greater force their obedience to the authority of the Church. We see it in the case of Anselm and of other contemporaries of his who fought for the liberty and doctrine of the Church under the guidance of the Apostolic See. The fruit of their obedience was victory in the strife, and their example confirmed the Divine sentence that “the obedient man will sing victory” (Prov. xxi. 28). The hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since “upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church” (Epist. Lib. iv. ep. 1).
35. How Anselm excelled in this virtue, with what warmth and fidelity he ever maintained perfect union with the Apostolic See, may be seen in the words he wrote to Pope Paschal: “How earnestly my mind, according to the measure of its power, clings in reverence and obedience to the Apostolic See, is proved by the many and most painful tribulations of my heart, which are known only to God and myself… From this union I hope in God that there is nothing which could ever separate me. Therefore do I desire, as far as this is possible, to put all my acts at the disposition of this same authority in order that it may direct and when necessary correct them” (Ibid. ep. 5).
36. The same strong constancy is shown in all his actions and writings, and especially in his letters which Our Predecessor Paschal describes as “written with the pen of charity” (In lib. iii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 74). But in his letters to the Pontiff he does not content himself with imploring pitiful aid and comfort; he also promises assiduous prayers, in most tender words of filial affection and unswerving faith, as when, while still Abbot of Bec, he wrote to Urban II: “For your tribulation and that of the Roman Church, which is our tribulation and that of all the true faithful, we never cease praying God assiduously to mitigate your evil days, till the pit be dug for the sinner. And although He seems to delay, we are certain that the Lord will not leave the scepter of sinners over the heritage of the just, that He will never abandon His heritage and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (In libro ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 33).
37. In this and other similar letters of Anselm We find wonderful comfort not only in the renewal of the memory of a Saint so devoted to the Apostolic See, but because they serve to recall your own letters and your other innumerable proofs of devotion, venerable brethren, in similar conflicts and similar sorrows.
38. Certainly it is a wonderful thing that the union of the Bishops and the faithful with the Roman Pontiff has drawn ever more and more close amid the hurtling of the storms that have been let loose on Christianity through the ages, and in our own times it has become so unanimous and so warm that its divine character is more apparent than ever before. It is indeed Our greatest consolation, as it is the glory and the invincible bulwark of the Church. But its very force makes it all the more an object of envy to the demon and of hatred to the world, which knows nothing similar to it in earthly societies, and finds no explanation of it in political and human reasonings, seeing that it is the fulfillment of Christ’s sublime prayer at the Last Supper.
39. But, venerable brethren, it behooves us to strive by all means to preserve this divine union and render it ever more intimate and cordial, fixing our gaze not on human considerations but on those that are divine, in order that we may be all one thing alone in Christ. By developing this noble effort we shall fulfill ever better our sublime mission which is that of continuing and propagating the work of Christ, and of His Kingdom on earth. This, indeed, is why the Church throughout the ages continues to repeat the loving prayer, which is also the warmest aspiration of Our heart: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we also are” (loan. xvii. 11).
40. This effort is necessary not only to oppose the assaults from without of those who fight openly against the liberty and the rights of the Church, but also in order to meet the dangers from within, arising from that second kind of war which We deplored above when We made mention of those misguided persons who are trying by their cunning systems to overthrow from the foundations the very constitution and essence of the Church, to stain the purity of her doctrine, and destroy her entire discipline. For even still there continues to circulate that poison which has been inoculated into many even among the clergy, and especially the young clergy, who have, as We have said, become infected by the pestilential atmosphere, in their unbridled craving for novelty which is drawing them to the abyss and drowning them.
41. Then again, by a deplorable aberration, the very progress, good in itself, of positive science and material prosperity, gives occasion and pretext for a display of intolerable arrogance towards divinely revealed truth on the part of many weak and intemperate minds. But these should rather remember the many mistakes and the frequent contradictions made by the followers of rash novelties in those questions of a speculative and practical order most vital for man; and realize that human pride is punished by never being able to be coherent with itself and by suffering shipwreck without ever sighting the port of truth. They are not able to profit by their own experience to humble themselves and “to destroy the counsels and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every understanding even unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. x. 4, 5).
42. Nay, their very arrogance has led them into the other extreme, and their philosophy throwing doubt on everything has involved them in darkness: hence the present profession of agnosticism with other absurd doctrines springing from an infinite series of systems in discord with one another and with right reason; so that “they have become vain in their thoughts . . . for professing themselves to be wise they became fools” (Rom. i. 21, 22).
43. But unfortunately their grandiloquent phrases and their promises of a new wisdom, fallen as it were from heaven, and of new methods of thought, have found favor with many young men, as those of the Manicheans found favor with Augustine, and have returned these aside, more or less unconsciously, from the right road. But concerning such pernicious masters of an insane knowledge, of their aims, their illusions, their erroneous and disastrous systems, We have spoken at great length in Our Encyclical Letter of September 8, 1907, “Pascendi dominici gregis.”
44. Here it is well to note that if the dangers We have mentioned are more serious and more imminent in our own days, they are not altogether different from those that threatened the doctrine of the Church in the time of Saint Anselm, and that we may find in his labors as Doctor almost the same help and comfort for the safeguarding of the truth as we found in his apostolic firmness for the defense of the liberty and rights of the Church.
45. Without entering here in detail into the intellectual state of the clergy and people in that distant age, there was a notable danger in a twofold excess to which the intellects of the time were prone.
46. There was at the time a class of light-minded and vain men, fed on a superficial erudition, who became incredibly puffed up with their undigested culture, and allowed themselves to be led away by a simulacrum of philosophy and dialectics. In their inane fallacy, which they called by the name of science, “they despised the sacred authority, dared with impious temerity to dispute one or other of the dogmas professed by Catholic faith . . . and in their foolish pride considered anything they could not understand as impossible, instead of confessing with humble wisdom that there might be many things beyond the reach of their comprehension. . . For there are some who immediately they have begun to grow the horns of an overweening knowledge—not knowing that when a person thinks he knows something, he does not yet know in what manner he should know it—before they have grown spiritual wings through firmness in the faith, are wont to rise presumptuously to the highest questions of the faith. Thus it happens that while against all right rules they endeavor to rise prematurely by their intelligence, their lack of intelligence brings them down to manifold errors” (S. Anselm., “De Fide Trinitatis,” cap. 2). And of such as these we have many painful examples under our eyes!
47. Others, again, there were of a more timid nature, who in their terror at the many cases of those who had made shipwreck of the faith, and fearing the danger of the science that puffeth up, went so far as to exclude altogether the use of philosophy, if not of all rational discussion of the sacred doctrines.
48. Midway between these two excesses stands the Catholic practice. which. while it abhors the presumption of the first class who “puffed up like bladders with the wind of vanity” (according to the phrase of Gregory XIV in the succeeding age) “went beyond the true limits in their efforts to establish the faith by natural reason adulterating the word of God with the figments of the philosopher”, so too it condemns the negligence of the second class in their excessive neglect of true investigation, and the absence of all desire in them “to draw profit from the faith for their intelligence”, especially when their office requires of them to defend the Catholic faith against the errors that arise on all sides.
49. For this defense, it may well be said that Anselm was raised up by God to point out by his example, his words, and his writings, the safe road, to unseal for the common good the spring of Christian wisdom and to be the guide and rule of those Catholic teachers who after him taught “the sacred letters by the method of the school” (Breviar. Rom., die 21 Aprilis), and who thus came rightly to be esteemed and celebrated as their precursor.
50. Not, indeed, that the Doctor of Aosta reached all at once the heights of theological and philosophical speculation, or the reputation of the two supreme masters Thomas and Bonaventure. The later fruits of the wisdom of these last did not ripen but with time and the collaboration of many doctors. Anselm himself, with that great modesty so characteristic of the truly wise, and with all his learning and perspicacity, never published any writings except such as were called forth by circumstances, or when compelled thereto by some authority, and in those he did publish he protests that “if there is anything that calls for correction he does not refuse the correction” (“Cur Deus homo,” lib. ii. cap. 23), nay, when the question is a debated one, and not connected with the faith, he tells his disciple: “you must not so cling to what we have said as to abide by it obstinately, when others with more weighty arguments succeed in overthrowing ours and establishing opinions against them; should that happen you will not deny at least that what we have said has been of profit for exercise in controversy” (“De Grammatico,” cap. 21 sub finem).
Ronzo-Chienis (Trentino), chiesa della Dedicazione di San Michele Arcangelo nuova - Statua di sant'Anselmo
Ronzo-Chienis (Trentino, Italy), new church of the Dedication of Saint Michael - Statue of saint Anselm
51. Yet Anselm accomplished far more than he ever expected or than others expected of him. He secured a position in which his merits were not dimmed by the glory of those that came after him, not even of the great Thomas, even when the latter declined to accept all his conclusions and treated more clearly and accurately questions already treated by him. To Anselm belongs the distinction of having opened the road to speculation, of removing the doubts of the timid, the dangers of the incautious, and the injuries done by the quarrelsome and the sophistical, “the heretical dialecticians” of his time, as he rightly calls them, in whom reason was the slave of the imagination and of vanity (“De fide Trinitatis” cap. 2).
52. Against these latter he observes that “while all are to be warned to enter with the utmost circumspection upon questions affecting the Sacred Scriptures, these dialecticians of our time are to be completely debarred from the discussion of spiritual questions.” And the reason he assigns for this is especially applicable now to those who imitate them under our eyes, repeating their old errors: “For in their souls, reason, which should be the king and the guide of all that is in man, is so mixed up with corporal imaginations that it is impossible to disentangle it from these, nor is itself able to distinguish from them things that it alone and pure should contemplate” (Ibid. cap. 2). Appropriate, too, for our own times are those words of his in which he ridicules those false philosophers, “who because they are not able to understand what they believe dispute the truth of the faith itself, confirmed by the Holy Fathers, just as if bats and owls who see the heaven only by night were to dispute concerning the rays of the sun at noon, against eagles who gaze at the sun unblinkingly” (Ibid.).
53. Hence too he condemns, here or elsewhere, the perverse opinion of those who conceded too much to philosophy by attributing to it the right to invade the domain of theology. In refuting this foolish theory he defines well the confines proper to each, and hints sufficiently clearly at the functions of reason in the things of divinely revealed doctrine: “Our faith,” he says, “must be defended by reason against the impious” (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 41). But how and how far? The question is answered in the words that follow: “It must be shown to them reasonably how unreasonable is their contempt of us” (Ibid.). The chief office, therefore, of philosophy is to show us the reasonableness of our faith and the consequent obligation of believing the divine authority proposing to us the profoundest mysteries, which with all signs of credibility that testify to them, are supremely worthy of being believed. Far different is the proper function of Christian theology, which is based on the fact of divine revelation and renders more solid in the faith those who already profess to enjoy the honor of the name of Christian. “Hence it is altogether clear that no Christian should dispute as to how that is not which the Catholic Church believes with the heart and confesses with the mouth, but even holding beyond all doubt the same faith, loving and living according to it, must seek as far as reason is able, how it is. If he is able to understand let him return thanks, let him not prepare his horns for attack, but bow his head in reverence” (“De fide Trinitatis,” cap 2).
54. When, therefore, theologians search and the faithful ask for reasons concerning our faith, it is not for the purpose of founding on them their faith, which has for its foundation the authority of God revealing; yet, as Anselm puts it, “as right order requires that we believe the profundities of the faith before we presume to discuss them with our reason, so it seems to me to be negligence if after we have been confirmed in the faith we do not strive to understand what we believe” (“Cur Deus homo,” lib. i. c. 2). And here Anselm means that intelligence of which the Vatican Council speaks (Constit. “Dei filius,” cap 4). For, as he shows elsewhere, “although since the time of the Apostles many of our Holy Fathers and Doctors say so many and such great things of the reason of our faith . . . yet they were not able to say all they might have said had they lived longer; and the reason of the truth is so ample and so deep that it can never be exhausted by mortals; and the Lord does not cease to impart the gifts of grace in his Church, with whom He promises to be until the consummation of the world. And to say nothing of the other texts in which the Sacred Scripture invites us to investigate reason, in the one in which it says that if you do not believe you will not understand, it plainly admonishes us to extend intention to understanding, when it teaches us how we are to advance towards it.” Nor is the last reason he alleges to be neglected: “In the midst between faith and vision is the intellectual knowledge which is within our reach in this life, and the more one can advance in this the nearer he approaches to the vision, for which we all yearn” (“De fide Trinitatis,” Praefatio).
55. With these and the like principles Anselm laid the foundations of the true principles of philosophical and theological studies which other most learned men, the princes of scholasticism, and chief among them the Doctor of Aquin, followed, developed, illustrated and perfected to the great honor and protection of the Church. If We have insisted so willingly on this distinction of Anselm, it is in order to have a new and much-desired occasion, venerable brethren, to inculcate upon you to see to it that you bring back youth, especially among the clergy, to the most wholesome springs of Christian wisdom, first opened by the Doctor of Aosta and abundantly enriched by Aquinas. On this head remember always the instructions of Our Predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory (Encyclical “Aeterni Patris,” diei 4 Augusti, an. 1879), and those We have Ourself given more than once, and again in the above-mentioned Encyclical “Pascendi dominici gregis.” Bitter experience only too clearly proves every day the loss and the ruin ensuing from the neglect of these studies, or from the pursuit of them without a clear and sure method; while many, before being fitted or prepared, presume to discuss the deepest questions of the faith (“De fide Trinitatis,” cap. 2). Deploring this evil with Anselm, We repeat the strong recommendations made by him: “Let no one rashly plunge into the intricate questions of divine things until he has first acquired, with firmness in the faith, gravity of conduct and of wisdom, lest while discussing with uncautious levity amid the manifold twistings of sophistry he fall into the toils of some tenacious error” (Ibid.). And this same incautious levity, when heated, as so often is the case, at the fire of the passions, proves the total ruin of serious studies and of the integrity of doctrine. Because, puffed up with that foolish pride, lamented by Anselm in the heretical dialecticians of his time, they despise the sacred authorities of the Holy Scriptures, and of the Fathers and Doctors, concerning which a more modest genius would be glad to use instead the respectful words of Anselm: “Neither in our own time nor in the future do we ever hope to see their like in the contemplation of the truth” (“De fide Trinitatis,” Praefatio.)
56. Nor do they hold in greater account the authority of the Church and of the Supreme Pontiff whenever efforts are made to bring them to a better sense, although at times as far as words go they are lavish of promises of submission as long as they can hope to hide themselves behind these and gain credit and protection. This contempt almost bars the way of all well-founded hope of the conversion of the erring; while they refuse obedience to him “to whom Divine Providence as to the Lord and Father of the whole Church in its pilgrimage on earth . . . has entrusted the custody of Christian life and faith and government of His Church; wherefore when anything arises in the Church against the Catholic faith to no other authority but his is it to be rightly referred for correction, and to no other with such certainty as to him has it been shown what answer is to be made to error in order that it may be examined by his prudence” (Ibid. cap. 2). And would to God that these poor wanderers on whose lips one so often hears the fair words of sincerity, conscience, religious experience, the faith that is felt and lived, and so on, learned their lessons from Anselm, understood his holy teachings, imitated his glorious example, and, above all, took deeply to heart those words of his: “First the heart is to be purified by faith, and first the eyes are to be illuminated by the observance of the precepts of the Lord . . . and first with humble obedience to the testimonies of God we must become small to learn wisdom . . . and not only when faith and obedience to the commandments are removed is the mind hindered from ascending to the intelligence of higher truths, but often enough the intelligence that has been given is taken away and faith is overthrown, when right conscience is neglected” (“De Fide Trinitatis,” cap. 2).
57. But if the erring continue obstinately to scatter the seeds of dissension and error, to waste the patrimony of the sacred doctrine of the Church, to attack discipline, to heap contempt on venerated customs, “to destroy which is a species of heresy” in the phrase of Saint Anselm, and to destroy the constitution of the Church in its very foundations, then all the more strictly must we watch, venerable brethren, and keep away from Our flock, and especially from youth which is the most tender part of it, so deadly a pest. This grace We implore of God with incessant prayers, interposing the most powerful patronage of the august Mother of God and the intercession of the blessed citizens of the Church triumphant, Saint Anselm especially, shining light of Christian wisdom, incorrupt guardian and valiant defender of all the sacred rights of the Church, to whom We would here, in conclusion, address the same words that Our Holy Predecessor, Gregory VII, wrote to him during his lifetime: “Since the sweet odor of your good works has reached Us, We return due thanks for them to God, and We embrace you heartily in the love of Christ, holding it for certain that by your example the Church of God has been greatly benefited, and that by your prayers and those of men like you she may even be liberated from the dangers that hang over her, with the mercy of Christ to succor us” (S. Anselm, “De nuptiis consanguinerorum,” cap. 1). “Hence We beg your fraternity to implore God assiduously to relieve the Church and Us who govern it, albeit unworthily, from the pressing assaults of the heretics, and lead these from their errors to the way of truth” (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 31).
58. Supported by this great protection, and trusting in your co-operation, We bestow the Apostolic Benediction with all affection in the Lord, as a pledge of heavenly grace and in testimony of Our goodwill, on all of you, venerable brethren, and on the clergy and people entrusted to each of you.
Saint Anselm – The Father of Scholasticism
In the year 1033 A.D., in the region of Piedmont, Saint Anselm was born. From his earliest years, he was attracted to the life of a monastic, and even applied at the age of fifteen, but was rejected. This rejection pleased his father, a man Anselm never agreed with as a boy. After the death of his mother, he went to study in Burgundy since his father nearly drove him out of the house.
After three years in Burgundy, Anselm traveled to Bec in Normandy where he became a pupil under the great abbot of Bec, Lanfranc. After his teacher and friend, Lanfranc was elevated as abbot to another monastery in the region; at the age of twenty-seven, Anselm became prior of Bec with only three years of experience under his belt as a monk.
Saint Anselm is one of the greatest minds the Catholic Church has ever seen. His thoughts and theology are some of the most original in the Church’s 2000-year history. He outmatched all of the theologians of his time and is known as the “Father of Scholasticism.” He was especially known for his metaphysics, which only compared to that of Saint Augustine. As the abbot of Bec, he penned some of his most famous writings – the Monologion, a treatise on how God exists by using metaphysical proofs, and the Proslogion, a text that focuses on the attributes of God. Along with these two great documents, he wrote many others on truth, freewill, the genesis of evil, and reasoning.
After fifteen years as prior, he was eventually made abbot of Bec. As abbot, he was forced to travel to England from time to time to make visits because the abbey owned possessions there. He enjoyed his travels to England since he was able to visit his friend, Lanfranc, who was now the Archbishop of Canterbury. Three years into that position, his friend died and the see of Canterbury was left open due to pressure from King William Rufus, who claimed financial interest from it. While enduring a rather quick and sudden illness, the king changed his mind and vowed that he would follow the law more efficiently. He also nominated Anselm as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Shocked at the request of the king, Saint Anselm was not prepared for such a nomination because he was not in good health nor did he think he had the proper skills for the position. Nevertheless, the other bishops and clergy forced the crosier into his hand, brought him to the church, and sang a Te Deum, a hymn of praise.
In the end though, King Rufus really didn’t change his heart or mind. After recovering from his illness, he quickly challenged Anselm as Archbishop and demanded supplies be given to him once again. Anselm offered 500 marks but the king sought out 1000 instead, pleading that this was the fee for his nomination to the see of Canterbury. Anselm did not comply!
As the two battled back and forth on a variety of church business, the non-virtuous and greedy monarch tried to remove Anselm from his episcopacy. He even tried to persuade the Holy Father, Urban II, to have him removed, but that was also a futile attempt. On top of the Pope’s rejection of the king, the papal diplomat who brought the news also brought with him the pallium, a sign that Anselm was not going anywhere.
As the dual continued between Saint Anselm and William in regards to the clergy of England, in the year 1097, Saint Anselm finally was given approval to leave the country to discuss his options with the Holy See. He was threatened with exile and losing the financial holdings of Canterbury. After arriving in Rome, he met with the Holy Father who supported him 100 percent and wrote a letter to the King demanding that the possessions be given back to the church immediately.
During his stay in Rome, Anselm was boarded at the Campanian monastery. It was here at this monastery that Saint Anselm wrote his greatest work on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man). Feeling frustrated about his position in Canterbury, he requested that he be removed from his office, but the Pope refused.
Also during his exile, Saint Anselm attended the Council of Bari in 1098. He made himself quite known because he explained eloquently the beauty of the Filioque to the Italo-Greek Bishops in attendance. The council also backed Anselm in regards to his dealings with King William, who was charged with simony, oppressing the Church, and persecuting Anselm. The council was ready to ask the Holy Father to excommunicate the king, but Anselm pleaded them not to make that request. Soon after the council, King Rufus died. The people of England, and the new King, Henry I, greeted Anselm with great excitement and joy.
Just like before, with King Rufus, the “honeymoon” did not last long between Anselm and Henry I. Henry I wanted Anselm to pay him homage and reinvest him to the See of Canterbury. This was now contrary to church law so Anselm refused it. With threats of invasion coming from Robert of Normandy, Henry I did whatever he could to get Anselm and the church on his side. Once the threats were no longer, Henry I sought investiture again.
As Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Anselm continued to remain steadfast against Henry. He refused to elevate bishops that were nominated by the king, unless they were canonically approved. Both brought their cases to Rome, and like his predecessor, Paschal II, stood with Anselm. As it was with the previous king, Henry tried to exile Anselm and take away the financial holdings of the church, but once he got word that Anselm was going to excommunicate him, he redacted his threats and offered a truce. Sometime later, at a royal council, King Henry enacted a degree that bishops and abbots should be free to do homage for their temporal possessions. Anselm and the Pope concurred.
During his years as Archbishop, he cared for the poor of the city, gave them alms, was in complete opposition of the slave trade, settled many church affairs of his time, and was faithful shepherd of Jesus Christ to the people under his care, despite his poor health.
After many years of obedience to the church always remaining steadfast in her teachings, Saint Anselm died in the year 1109 A.D. with the monks of Canterbury around his deathbed. He was never formally canonized a saint, but is still recognized as one. In 1720, Pope Clement XI declared him a Doctor of the Church. His feast day is April 21.
St. Anselm…Pray For Us.
St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church
SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/anselm/
St. Anselm applied himself diligently to the study of every part of theology, by the clear light of scripture and tradition. Whilst he was prior at Bec, he wrote his Monologium, so called, because in this work he speaks alone, explaining the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God. Also his Proslogium, or contemplation of God’s attributes, in which he addresses his discourse to God, or himself. The Meditations, commonly called the Manual of St. Austin, are chiefly extracted out of this book. It was censured by a neighbouring monk, which occasioned the saint’s Apology. These, and other the like works, show the author to have excelled in metaphysics all the doctors of the church since St. Austin. He likewise wrote, whilst prior, On Truth, On Freewill, and On the Fall of the Devil, or On the Origin of Evil: also his Grammarian, which is, in reality, a treatise on Dialectic, or the art of reasoning.
Anselm’s reputation drew to Bec great numbers from all the neighbouring kingdoms. Herluin dying in 1078, he was chosen abbot of Bec, being forty-five years old, of which he had been prior fifteen. The abbey of Bec being possessed at that time of some lands in England, this obliged the abbot to make his appearance there in person, at certain times. This occasioned our saint’s first journeys thither, which his tender regard for his old friend Lanfranc, at that time archbishop of Canterbury, made the more agreeable. He was received with great honour and esteem by all ranks of people, both in church and state; and there was no one who did not think it a real misfortune, if he had not been able to serve him in something or other. King William himself, whose title of Conqueror rendered him haughty and inaccessible to his subjects, was so affable to the good abbot of Bec, that he seemed to be another man in his presence. The saint, on his side, was all to all, by courtesy and charity, that he might find occasions of giving every one some suitable instructions to promote their salvation; which were so much the more effectual, as he communicated them, not as some do with the dictatorial air of a master, but in a simple familiar manner, or by indirect, though sensible examples. In the year 1092, Hugh, the great earl of Chester, by three pressing messages, entreated Anselm to come again into England, to assist him, then dangerously sick, and to give his advice about the foundation of a monastery, which that nobleman had undertaken at St. Wereburge’s church at Chester. A report that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of Lanfranc, deceased, made him stand off for some time; but he could not forsake his old friend in his distress, and at last came over. He found him recovered, but the affairs of his own abbey, and of that which the earl was erecting, detained him five months in England. The metropolitan see of Canterbury had been vacant ever since the death of Lanfranc, in 1089. The sacrilegious and tyrannical king, William Rufus, who succeeded his father in 1087, by an injustice unknown till his time, usurped the revenues of vacant benefices, and deferred his permission, or Congé d’élire, in order to the filling the episcopal sees, that he might the longer enjoy their income. Having thus seized into his hands the revenues of the archbishopric, he reduced the monks of Canterbury to a scanty allowance: oppressing them moreover by his officers with continual insults, threats, and vexations. He had been much solicited, by the most virtuous among the nobility, to supply the see of Canterbury, in particular, with a person proper for that station; but continued deaf to all their remonstrances, and answered them at Christmas, 1093, that neither Anselm nor any other should have that bishopric whilst he lived; and this he swore to by the holy face of Lucca, meaning a great crucifix in the cathedral of that city, held in singular veneration, his usual oath. He was seized soon after with a violent fit of sickness, which in a few days brought him to extremity. He was then at Gloucester, and seeing himself in this condition, signed a proclamation, which was published, to release all those who had been taken prisoners in the field, to discharge all debts owing to the crown, and to grant a general pardon: promising likewise to govern according to law, and to punish the instruments of injustice with exemplary severity. He moreover nominated Anselm to the see of Canterbury, at which all were extremely satisfied but the good abbot himself, who made all the decent opposition imaginable; alleging his age, his want of health and vigour enough for so weighty a charge, his unfitness for the management of public and secular affairs, which he had always declined to the best of his power. The king was extremely concerned at his opposition, and asked him why he endeavoured to ruin him in the other world, being convinced that he should lose his soul in case he died before the archbishopric was filled. The king was seconded by the bishops and others present, who not only told him they were scandalized at his refusal, but added, that, if he persisted in it, all the grievances of the church and nation would be placed to his account. Thereupon they forced a pastoral staff into his hands, in the king’s presence, carried him into the church, and sung Te Deum on the occasion. This was on the 6th of March, 1093. He still declined the charge, till the king had promised him the restitution of all the lands that were in the possession of that see in Lanfranc’s time. Anselm also insisted that he should acknowledge Urban II. for lawful pope. Things being thus adjusted, Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity on the 4th of December, in 1093
Anselm had not been long in possession of the see of Canterbury, when the king, intending to wrest the duchy of Normandy out of the hands of his brother Robert, made large demands on his subjects for supplies. On this occasion, not content with the five hundred pounds (a very large sum in those days) offered him by the archbishop, the king insisted, at the instigation of some of his courtiers, on a thousand, for his nomination to the archbishopric, which Anselm constantly refused to pay: pressing him also to fill vacant abbeys, and to consent that the bishops should hold councils as formerly, and be allowed by canons to repress crimes and abuses, which were multiplied, and passed into custom, for want of such a remedy, especially incestuous marriages and other abominable debaucheries. The king was extremely provoked, and declared no one should extort from him his abbeys any more than his crown. 4 And from that day he sought to deprive Anselm of his see. William, bishop of Durham, and the other prelates, acquiesced readily in the king’s orders, by which he forbade them to obey him as their primate, or treat him as archbishop, alleging for reason that he obeyed Pope Urban, during the schism, whom the English nation had not acknowledged. The king, having brought over most of the bishops to his measures, applied to the temporal nobility, and bid them disclaim the archbishop: but they resolutely answered, that since he was their archbishop, and had a right to superintend the affairs of religion, it was not in their power to disengage themselves from his authority, especially as there was no crime or misdemeanour proved against him. King William then, by his ambassador, acknowledged Urban for true pope, and promised him a yearly pension from England, if he would depose Anselm; but the legate, whom his holiness sent, told the king that it was what could not be done. St. Anselm wrote to the pope to thank him for the pall he had sent him by that legate, complaining of the affliction in which he lived under a burden too heavy for him to bear, and regretting the tranquillity of his solitude which he had lost. 5 Finding the king always seeking occasions to oppress his church, unless he fed him with its treasures, which he regarded as the patrimony of the poor (though he readily furnished his contingent in money and troops to his expeditions and to all public burdens), the holy prelate earnestly desired to leave England, that he might apply, in person, to the pope for his counsel and assistance. The king refused him twice: and, on his applying to him a third time, he assured the saint that, if he left that kingdom, he would seize upon the whole revenue of the see of Canterbury, and that he should never more be acknowledged metropolitan. But the saint, being persuaded he could not in conscience abide any longer in the realm, to be a witness of the oppression of the Church, and not have it in his power to remedy it, set out from Canterbury, in October, 1097, in the habit of a pilgrim; took shipping at Dover, and landed at Witsan, having with him two monks, Eadmer, who wrote his life, and Baldwin. He made some stay at Cluni with St. Hugh, the abbot, and at Lyons with the good Archbishop Hugh. It not being safe travelling any further towards Rome at that time, on account of the anti-pope’s party lying in the way; and Anselm falling sick soon after, this made it necessary for him to stay longer at Lyons than he had designed. However, he left that city the March following, in 1098, on the pope’s invitation, and was honourably received by him. His holiness, having heard his cause, assured him of his protection, and wrote to the King of England for his re-establishment in his rights and possessions. Anselm also wrote to the king at the same time; and, after ten days’ stay in the pope’s palace, retired to the monastery of St. Saviour in Calabria, the air of Rome not agreeing with his health. Here he finished his work entitled, Why God was made Man; in two books, showing, against infidels, the wisdom, justice, and expediency of the mystery of the incarnation for man’s redemption. He had begun this work in England, where he also wrote his book On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation, dedicated to Pope Urban II., in which he refuted Roscelin, the master, Peter Abailard, who maintained an erroneous opinion in regard to the Trinity. Anselm, charmed with the sweets of his retirement, and despairing of doing any good at Canterbury, hearing by new instances that the king was still governed by his passions, in open defiance to justice and religion, earnestly entreated the pope, whom he met at Aversa, to discharge him of his bishopric; believing he might be more serviceable to the world in a private station. The pope would by no means consent, but charged him upon his obedience not to quit his station: adding, that it was not the part of a man of piety and courage to be frightened from his post purely by the dint of browbeating and threats, that being all the harm he had hitherto received. Anselm replied, that he was not afraid of suffering, or even losing his life in the cause of God; but that he saw there was nothing to be done in a country where justice was so overruled as it then was in England. However, Anselm submitted, and in the meantime returned to his retirement, which was a cell called Slavia, situated on a mountain, depending on the monastery of St. Saviour. That he might live in the merit of obedience, he prevailed with the pope to appoint the monk Eadmer, his inseparable companion, to be his superior, nor did he do the least thing without his leave.
The pope having called a council, which was to meet at Bari, in October, 1098, in order to effect a reconciliation of the Greeks with the Catholic church, ordered the saint to be present at it. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-three bishops. The Greeks having proposed the question about the procession of the Holy Ghost, whether this was from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son; the disputation being protracted, the pope called aloud for Anselm, saying: “Anselm, our father and our master, where are you?” And causing him to sit next to him, told him that the present occasion required his learning and elocution to defend the church against her enemies, and that he thought God had brought him thither for that purpose. Anselm spoke to the point with so much learning, judgment, and penetration, that he silenced the Greeks, and gave such a general satisfaction, that all present joined in pronouncing Anathema against those who should afterwards deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. This affair being at an end, the proceedings of the King of England fell next under debate. And on this occasion his simony, his oppressions of the church, his persecution of Anselm, and his incorrigibleness, after frequent admonitions, were so strongly represented, that the pope, at the instance of the council, was just going to pronounce him excommunicated. Anselm had hitherto sat silent, but at this he rose up, and casting himself on his knees before the pope, entreated him to stop the censure. And now the council, who had admired our saint for his parts and learning, were further charmed with him on account of his humane and Christian dispositions, in behalf of one that had used him so roughly. The saint’s petition in behalf of his sovereign was granted; and, on the council breaking up, the pope and Anselm returned to Rome. The pope, however, sent to the king a threat of excommunication, to be issued in a council to be shortly after held at Rome, unless he made satisfaction; but the king, by his ambassador, obtained a long delay. Anselm staid some time at Rome with the pope, who always placed him next in rank to himself. All persons, even the schismatics, loved and honoured him; and he assisted with distinction at the council of Rome, held after Easter, in 1099. Immediately after the Roman council he returned to Lyons, where he was entertained by the Archbishop Hugh, with all the cordiality and regard imaginable; but saw no hopes of recovering his see so long as King William lived. Here he wrote his book, On the Conception of the Virgin, and On Original Sin, resolving many questions relating to that sin. The Archbishop of Lyons gave him in all functions the precedence, and all thought themselves happy who could receive any sacrament from his hands. Upon the death of Urban II. he wrote an account of his case to his successor, Paschal II. King William Rufus being snatched away by sudden death, without the sacraments, on the 2nd of August, 1100, St. Anselm, who was then in the abbey of Chaize-Dieu, in Auvergne, lamented bitterly his unhappy end, and made haste to England, whither he was invited by King Henry I. He landed at Dover on the 23d of September, and was received with great joy and extraordinary respect. And having in a few days recovered the fatigue of his journey, went to wait on the king, who received him very graciously. But this harmony was of no long continuance. The new king required of Anselm to be reinvested by him, and do the customary homage of his predecessors for his see; but the saint absolutely refused to comply, and made a report of the proceedings of the late synod at Rome, in which the laity that gave investitures for abbeys or cathedrals were excommunicated; and those who received such investitures were put under the same censure. But this not satisfying the king, it was agreed between them to consult the pope upon the subject. The court, in the meantime, was very much alarmed at the preparations making by the king’s elder brother, Robert, duke of Normandy; who, being returned from the holy war in Palestine, claimed the crown of England, and threatened to invade the land. The nobles, though they had sworn allegiance to Henry, were ready enough to join him; and, on his landing with a formidable army at Portsmouth, several declared for the duke. The king being in great danger of losing his crown, was very liberal in promises to Anselm on this occasion; assuring him that he would henceforward leave the business of religion wholly to him, and be always governed by the advice and orders of the apostolic see. Anselm omitted nothing on his side to prevent a revolt from the king. Not content with sending his quota of armed men, he strongly represented to the disaffected nobles the heinousness of their crime of perjury, and that they ought rather lose their lives than break through their oaths, and fail in their sworn allegiance to their prince. He also published an excommunication against Robert, as an invader, who thereupon came to an accommodation with Henry, and left England. And thus, as Eadmer relates, the archbishop, strengthening the king’s party, kept the crown upon his head. Amidst his troubles and public distractions, he retired often in the day to his devotions, and watched long in them in the night. At his meals, and at all times, he conversed interiorly with heaven. One day, as he was riding to his manor of Herse, a hare, pursued by the dogs, ran under his horse for refuge: at which the saint stopped, and the hounds stood at bay. The hunters laughed, but the saint said, weeping, “This hare puts me in mind of a poor sinner just upon the point of departing this life, surrounded with devils, waiting to carry away their prey.” The hare going off, he forbade her to be pursued, and was obeyed, not a hound stirring after her. In like manner, every object served to raise his mind to God, with whom he always conversed in his heart, and, in the midst of noise and tumult, he enjoyed the tranquillity of holy contemplation; so strongly was his soul sequestered from, and raised above the world.
King Henry, though so much indebted to Anselm, still persisted in his claim of the right of giving the investitures of benefices. Anselm, in 1102, held a national council in St. Peter’s church at Westminster, in which, among other things, it was forbidden to sell men like cattle, which had till then been practised in England; and many canons relating to discipline were drawn up. He persisted to refuse to ordain bishops, named by the king, without a canonical election. The contest became every day more serious. At last, the king and nobles persuaded Anselm to go in person, and consult the pope about the matter: the king also sent a deputy to his holiness. The saint embarked on the 27th of April, in 1103. Pope Paschal II. condemned the king’s pretensions to the investitures, and excommunicated those who should receive church dignities from him. St. Anselm being advanced, on his return to England, as far as Lyons, received there an intimation of an order from King Henry, forbidding him to proceed on his journey home, unless he would conform to his will. He therefore remained at Lyons, where he was much honoured by his old friend the Archbishop Hugh.—From thence he retired to his abbey of Bec, where he received from the pope a commission to judge the cause of the archbishop of Rouen, accused of several crimes. He was also allowed to receive into communion such as had accepted investitures from the crown, which, though still disallowed of, the bishops and abbots were so far dispensed with as to do homage for their temporalities. The king was so pleased with this condescension of the pope, that he sent immediately to Bec, to invite St. Anselm home in the most obliging manner, but a grievous sickness detained him. The king coming over into Normandy in 1106, articles of agreement were drawn up between him and the archbishop, at Bec, pursuant to the letter St. Anselm had received from Rome a few months before: and the pope very readily confirmed the agreement. In this expedition, Henry defeated his brother Robert, and sent him prisoner into England, where he died. St. Anselm hereupon returned to England, in 1106, and was received by the Queen Maud, who came to meet him, and by the whole kingdom of England, as it were in triumph. 6
The last years of his life, his health was entirely broken.—Having for six months laboured under an hectic decay, with an entire loss of appetite, under which disorder he would be carried every day to assist at holy mass: he happily expired, laid on sackcloth and ashes, at Canterbury, on the 21st of April, 1109, in the sixteenth year of his episcopal dignity, and of his age the seventy-sixth. He was buried in his cathedral. By a decree of Clement XI., in 1720, 7 he is honoured among the doctors of the church. We have authentic accounts of many miracles wrought by this saint in the histories of Eadmer and others.
St. Anselm had a most lively faith of all the mysteries and great truths of our holy religion; and by the purity of his heart, and an interior divine light, he discovered great secrets in the holy scriptures, and had a wonderful talent in explaining difficulties which occur in them. His hope for heavenly things gave him a wonderful contempt and disgust of the vanities of the world, and he could truly say with the apostle, he was crucified to the world, and all its desires. By an habitual mortification of his appetite in eating and drinking, he seemed to have lost all relish in the nourishment which he took. His fortitude was such, that no human respects, or other considerations, could ever turn him out of the way of justice and truth; and his charity for his neighbour seemed confined by no bounds: his words, his writings, his whole life breathed forth his heavenly fire. He seemed to live, says his faithful disciple and historian, not for himself, but for others; or rather so much the more for himself by how much the more profitable his life was to his neighbours, and faithful to his God. The divine love and law were the continual subjects of his meditations day and night. He had a singular devotion to the passion of our Lord, and to his Virgin mother. Her image at Bec, before which, at her altar, he daily made long prayers whilst he lived in that monastery, is religiously kept in the new sumptuous church. His horror of the least sin is not to be expressed. In his Proslogium, meditations, and other ascetic works, the most heroic and inflamed sentiments of all these virtues, especially of compunction, fear of the divine judgments, and charity, are expressed in that language of the heart which is peculiar to the saints
Note 1. The venerable abbot Herluin, after having commanded in the armies with great valour and reputation, renounced the world, founded this abbey upon his own manor of Bec, about the year 1040, and was chosen the first abbot. Mabillon has given us his edifying life, but could not find sufficient proof that he was ever honoured in the church as a saint. In the calendar of Bec his festival is marked a double of the first class on the 26th of August: but the mass is sung in honour of the Blessed Trinity. Among the MSS. of this house are two lives of this their founder. To one of them is annexed a MS. modern dissertation, in which the anonymous author pretends to prove that Herluin was honoured among the saints, and that a chapel in that monastery, which is now destroyed, was dedicated to God under his invocation. See the lives of Herluin in the library of MSS. at Bec, n. 128 and 140. Also Chronicon Becense, n. 141. [back]
Note 2. Lanfranc was born at Pavia, in Lombardy, of a noble family, about the year 1005; studied eloquence and the laws at Bologna, and was professor of laws in his native city. This charge he resigned in order to travel into Normandy, where he made his monastic profession at Bec, under Herluin, the first abbot, about the year 1042, Henry I. being king of France, and William the Bastard, duke of Normandy. Three years after he was made prior, and commenced a great school in that monastery, which, by his extraordinary reputation, soon became the most famous at that time in Europe. Berengarius, professor at Tours, and archdeacon of Angers, made great complaints against him, because several had left his school to go to Bec. When that unhappy professor broached his errors concerning the Blessed Eucharist, Lanfranc invited him often to a conference, which Berengarius declined. He assisted at the council of Rheims, in 1049, held by St. Leo IX., and attended that pope to Rome, and was present at the council there in which Berengarius was excommunicated, and at that of Vercelli. Duke William married his cousin Maud, daughter to Baldwin, count of Flanders, without a dispensation; but Nicholas II. afterwards granted one at the solicitation of Lanfranc, whom the duke sent to Rome on that errand. In that city he attended the council in which Berengarius solemnly abjured his errors. After his relapse, he wrote against him (whether at Bec or at Caen is uncertain) his excellent book On the Body of our Lord. The conditions which the pope required, in compensation for the dispensation for the duke’s marriage, was, that he and the duchess should each found a monastery, the one for monks and the other for nuns. This they executed, in the most magnificent manner, in the abbeys of St. Stephen and of Holy Trinity, at Caen, in 1059. The buildings being finished in 1063, Lanfranc was appointed first abbot of the former, whither Pope Alexander II., who had been his scholar at Bec, sent some of his relations to study in the great school which he opened in this new abbey. Lanfranc had obstinately refused the archbishopric of Rouen in 1067, but was compelled, by the orders of two councils and abbot Herluin, to accept that of Canterbury in 1070. The pope appointed him legate in England, and the archbishop reformed the clergy, the monasteries, and the laity, and restored the studies both of the sacred sciences, eloquence, and grammar. He is allowed by all to have been the ablest dialectician, and the most eloquent Latin writer of his age; nor was he less famous for his skill in the scriptures, fathers, and canon law. King William, as often as he went into Normandy, charged him with the chief care of the government in England, and by that prince’s last disposition, and his express order before his death, Lanfranc crowned his younger son, William Rufus, on the 29th of September, 1087. He survived two years, his death happening on the 28th of May, 1089, in the nineteenth year of his archiepiscopal dignity. He was buried in Christ-Church, at Canterbury.
His genuine commentary on St. Paul’s epistles, Mabillon was possessed of, and promised to publish, but was prevented by death; that given by D’Achery upon this subject is certainly not his. His statutes for the Benedictin order in England, published by Dom. Reyner, the first abbot of Lumbspring; his notes upon Cassian’s conferences, with his treatise against Berengarius, and sixty letters, make up the most correct edition of his works given by Luke D’Achery, with useful notes, in one volume, in folio, in 1648, and the last edition of the Bibliotheca Patrum. To these we may add his discourse in the council of Winchester, in 1076. Also his Sentences, an excellent ascetic work for the use of monks, discovered by Dom. Luke D’Achery twelve years after the publication of his works, and published by him in the fourth tome of his Spicilege, and inserted t. 18, Biblioth. Patr. p. 83. The treatise On the Secret of Confession, by some attributed to Lanfranc, seems not to be his genuine work. His Comments on the Psalms, his History of William the Conqueror, or rather panegyric, and some other works, quoted by several writers under his name, seem lost. We have his life written by Milo Crespin, a monk of Bec, his contemporary in the chronicle of Bec, and Eadmer’s Hist. Novorum, &c. Other monuments relating to his history, are collected by Luke D’Achery and Mabillon. Capgrave and Trithemius honour him with the title of saint on the 28th of May, on which day his life is given in Britannia Sancta. But it is certain that no marks of such an honour have ever been allowed to his memory, either at Canterbury, Caen, or Bec, nor, as it seems, in any other church: and William Thorn’s chronicle is a proof that all had not an equal idea of his extraordinary sanctity. His memory is justly vindicated against some moderns, by Wharton, in his Anglia Sacra. On Lanfranc, see Ceillier, t. 21, p. 1; Hist. Liter. de la France, t. 10, p. 260. [back]
Note 3. N 30. [back]
Note 4. He did not think himself a complete monarch, as Eadmer says, unless he melted the mitre into the crown, and engrossed the possession of all jurisdiction, both spiritual and temporal, p. 28. [back]
Note 5. B. 3. ep. 37. [back]
Note 6. His exterior occupations did not hinder him from continuing to employ his pen in defence of the church. Towards the end of his life, he wrote a book on the Will, showing its different acceptations: also his learned treatise on the Concord of Divine Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Grace with Free-will; and a tract on Azymes, against the Greeks: another on the difference of the Sacraments, viz. in the Latin and Greek ceremonies; and a work on the prohibited Marriages of Relations. His epistles are divided into four books: the first contains those which he wrote before he was abbot: the second those whilst he was abbot: the third and fourth those he wrote whilst archbishop. The Elucidarium on theology is unworthy his name, though it has sometimes passed under it by mistake: as have the discourse on the Conception of the Blessed Virgin: and the Commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles, by Hervæus, a Benedictin monk, prior of Bourg-Dieu, in Berry, in 1140. (See D’Achery, Spicileg. t. 3, p. 461). The poem on the Contempt of the World, is the work of Roger of Caen, monk at Bec, whilst St. Anselm was prior, as Mabillon shows. (Annal. l. 65, n. 41, p. 134, and Ceillier, t. 21, p. 305.) The treatise on the Excellence of the Blessed Virgin was written by Eadmer, the disciple of our saint, who died prior at Canterbury, in 1137. St. Anselm, in his dogmatical writings, sticks close to the fathers, especially to St. Austin. He gathers the doctrine of the points he treats of into a regular system, in a clear method, and a chain of close reasoning: the method which St. John Damascen had followed among the Greeks, in his books on the Orthodox Faith, and which, among the Latins, Peter Lombard, bishop of Paris, (from his Abridgment of Divinity, which was called his four books of Sentences, surnamed the Master of the Sentences,) and all the schoolmen have followed ever since. Whence St. Anselm is regarded as the first of the scholastic theologians, as St. Bernard closes the list of the fathers of the church. Dom. Gerberon published an abridgment of St. Anselm’s doctrine, entitled S. Anselmus per se docens, in 12mo. An. 1692. Dom. Joseph Saens (Cardinal d’Aguirre) gave commentaries on St. Anselm’s dogmatical works, under the title of Theologia S. Anselmi, printed in three volumes in folio, at Salamanca, in 1679, and with corrections and additions at Rome, in 1688. He intended a fourth volume on the Saint’s Prayers and Meditations; which he never executed. This work was dedicated to Pope Innocent XI. At the request of several Benedictin monasteries in Italy, that pope in a brief, addressed to the Anselmist Benedictin monks at Rome, orders that no professor in their schools ever depart from the theological principles laid down by St. Anselm, which these theologians join with those of St. Austin and St. Thomas Aquinas, to which they are always conformable.
Only public occasions engaged St. Anselm in this literary career for the defence of the church. It was rather his delight to be employed in the interior exercises of devotion, being himself one of the most eminent masters in the contemplative way; of which spirit his ascetic works will be an eternal monument. They consist of exhortations, prayers, hymns, and meditations, to be best read in the new edition of his works by the Benedictins. They are written with a moving unction, and express a most tender devotion, especially to the cross and passion of Christ, to the holy sacrament of the altar, and to the Blessed Virgin; and an ardent love of God, and of our divine Redeemer. Eadmer, his disciple and constant companion, who has given us his life in two books, and a separate book of New Transactions (chiefly containing the saint’s public actions and troubles) has also left us the book of his Similitudes, collected from his maxims and sentences. He informs us that the saint used to say, that if he saw hell open and sin before him, he would leap into the former, to avoid the latter. Such indeed are to be the dispositions of every good Christian: but only an extraordinary impulse of fervour like this saint’s, can make such metaphysical suppositions seasonable. The same author relates a vision seen by the saint, representing the world like a fœtid torrent, the persons drowned in which, seemed carried down by its impetuous stream. The last edition of St. Anselm’s works was given by Gerberon, the Maurist monk, in 1675, reprinted in 1721. [back]
Note 7. Bullar. Rom. t. 1, p. 441, and Clemens XI. Op. t. 2, p. 1215. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/4/211.html
Statue of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in Sant'Anselmo all'AventinoAnselm von Canterbury, Statue im Päpstlichen Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rom
Anselm, Saint (1033–1109), archbishop of Canterbury, was born at or near Aosta about the year 1033, or two years before the death of Cnut, king of England, and two years before William the Conqueror became duke of Normandy. At the date of Anselm’s birth Aosta was on the borders of Lombardy and Burgundy, but was reckoned as belonging to the latter, which had ceased to be an independent kingdom by the death of Rudolph III in 1032, and had become part of the empire. There is some probability that Ermenberga, the mother of Anselm, was a niece of Rudolph III. She was also related to Odo, count of Maurienne, who, by his marriage with Adelaide, marchioness of Susa, added the valley of Aosta to his domains, and became progenitor of the royal house of Savoy. Anselm’s father also, Gundulf, who was a Lombard by birth, but thoroughly naturalised at Aosta, seems to have been a kinsman to the Marchioness Adelaide. A comparison of passages in several chroniclers respecting the parentage of Anselm suggests the conclusion that he had royal blood in his veins on his mother’s side, but not on his father’s. At any rate both parents were well born, and held considerable property under the counts of Maurienne. It probably included the village of Gressan, about three miles south-west of Aosta. Whether a tower at Gressan, called Saint Anselm’s tower, can have been a part of his parents’ dwelling-place, is more than doubtful, but it is likely enough that they had a house here, and the solitary anecdote of Anselm’s early childhood bears the impress of the scenery amidst which he must have lived. He imagined that heaven rested upon the mountains; he dreamed that one day he climbed the mountain-side until he reached the palace of the great King, and there having reported to Him the idleness of His handmaidens, whom he had passed, lazily reaping the corn in the valley, he was refreshed with bread of heavenly purity and whiteness by the steward of the divine household.
It was from his mother that he first learned, as was natural, his religious ideas and love of holy things. She was a good and prudent housewife, as well as a devout woman. His father Gundulf was an impetuous man, liberal and generous to a fault. Anselm seems to have been their only son, and he had an only sister younger than himself, Richera, or Richeza, who married a man named Burgundius, by whom she became the mother of a son who bore his uncle’s name. Anselm took great interest in the education of this nephew, and several letters are addressed to him. From an early age Anselm was studious, as well as clever and amiable. He made rapid progress in learning, and grew up loving and beloved. He probably received his earliest teaching in the school of the abbey of Saint Leger, near Aosta; but after a time he was entrusted to the care of a kinsman as his private tutor, who kept him so closely confined to his studies that his health gave way. He became shy and melancholy. His mother’s good sense saved his reason, if not his life; she brought him home and bade her servants let him do exactly what he liked, until he gradually recovered his health and spirits.
Before he was fifteen he began to consider how he might best shape his life according to God, and he became persuaded that there was nothing in the ways of men better than the life of monks. So he went to a certain abbot whom he knew, and begged that he might be made a monk; but the abbot refused on finding that the request was made without his father’s knowledge. The boy then prayed for an illness, hoping that it might induce his father to yield to his inclination. The sickness came; he sent for the abbot and implored him, as one who was about to die, to make him a monk without delay. The abbot, however, dreading the displeasure of Anselm’s father, still refused; and the lad recovered. A period of reaction followed; his longing for the religious life, and even his ardour for study, cooled; he began to devote himself more to youthful sports, and after the death of his mother, being like a ship parted from its anchor, he drifted yet more completely into a worldly course of life. Some passages in one of his ‘Meditations’ would, if literally interpreted, imply that he fell into very serious sin; but there is some doubt whether he is speaking in his own person, and, even if he is, the language may be no more than the self-reproaches, rhetorically expressed, of a highly sensitive conscience. For some reason not explained, his father, Gundulf, conceived a great dislike to him, which Anselm’s meekness and submission seemed rather to inflame than soften. At last in despair, when he was about twenty-three years of age, he resolved to quit his home and seek his fortune in some other land. He set out northwards, accompanied by a single clerk. In crossing Mont Cenis, Anselm was much exhausted, their provisions were spent, and but for his companion moistening his lips with snow, and the timely discovery of a morsel of bread in the wallet, he must have perished on the road. Having spent three years partly in Burgundy, partly in France, he made his way to Normandy, and took up his abode at Avranches about the year 1059. Here Lanfranc had kept a school; but he had now become prior of the abbey of Le Bec. His fame as a scholar had made that house one of the most renowned seats of learning in western Christendom, and to Bec, after a brief sojourn at Avranches, Anselm also repaired. When Anselm came to Bec, Lanfranc had been prior for several years, and the house was at the height of its reputation. Students flocked to it from all quarters, and the great men of Normandy lavished gifts upon it. Anselm threw himself heartily into the work of the place. The severity of his studies and the austerities of the monastic rule were almost more than the delicate frame could bear; but he was persuaded that the moral discipline was good for his soul, and his desire to become a monk increased in strength. But if he became a monk, whither was he to go? If to Clugny, he thought his learning would be thrown away, owing to the excessive strictness of the rule. If he remained at Bec, he thought it would be so completely overshadowed by that of Lanfranc as to be of little use. Meanwhile, by the death of his father, he became the heir of the family property. Three courses then presented themselves for selection. Should he settle at Bec, or become a hermit, or return to his native valley and administer his patrimony for the benefit of the poor? He took counsel with Lanfranc. Lanfranc advised him to consult Maurilius, archbishop of Rouen, and accompanied him on a visit to that prelate. Maurilius decided in favour of the monastic life, and so in 1060 Anselm took the cowl and remained at Bec. Three years afterwards Lanfranc was made abbot of the new house of Saint Stephen at Caen, founded by Duke William. Anselm succeeded him at Bec in the office of prior. He held this post for fifteen years, 1063 to 1078. Then Herlwin, founder and abbot, died, and for fifteen years more Anselm governed the house as abbot, 1078 to 1093.
It was during this period of thirty years that his powers developed themselves to the full. If Lanfranc was a man of great talent, Anselm was a man of lofty genius. Both morally and intellectually his character was of a finer type. He had not only more tenderness, more breadth of sympathy, and more transparent simplicity of purpose, but far profounder and more original powers of thought. Having an absolute and unshakeable faith in Holy Scripture, he did not shrink from applying to it the full force of his reason, and therefore he was enabled, in the words of his biographer Eadmer, to penetrate and unravel some of the most intricate and, before his time, unsolved questions touching the nature of God and of our faith. The whole day between the hours of prayer was often consumed in giving advice orally or by letter to persons, many of them of high rank, who consulted him on questions of faith or conduct; and the greater part of the night was spent either in correcting the books of the monastery (which up to that time Eadmer says were the most ill-written in the world), or in meditation and devotional exercises. He did not shrink even from the drudgery of instructing boys in the rudiments of grammar, although he owned that he found this an irksome task. But the work in which he most delighted and excelled was that of moulding the minds and characters of young men. For this he was eminently fitted by his affectionate sweetness and sympathy which won their hearts, by his deep piety and powerful intellect, by his acuteness in discerning character, and his practical wisdom in suggesting rules for moral conduct. He compared the age of youth to wax fitly tempered for the seal. If the wax be too hard or too soft, it will not take a clear impression. Youth, being between the two, was an apt compound of softness and hardness, which could receive lasting impressions and be turned to any shape. Similar good sense in the education of the young is manifested in his advice to an abbot who complained of the difficulty of teaching the boys brought up in his monastery. They were incorrigibly perverse, the abbot said, and although beaten continually day and night they only grew worse. ‘Beat them, do you?’ said Anselm; ‘and pray what kind of creatures are they when they are grown up?’ ‘Dull and brutal,’ was the reply. ‘You are verily unfortunate,’ said Anselm, ‘if you only succeed in turning men into beasts.’ ‘But what can we do then?’ rejoined the abbot; ‘we constrain them in every possible way, but all to no purpose.’ ‘Constrain them, my lord abbot! If you planted a young shoot in your garden, and then confined it on all sides, so that it could not put forth its branches, would it not turn out a strange misshapen thing when at last you set it free, and all from your own fault? So these children have been planted in the garden of the church to grow and bear fruit for God. But you cramp them so excessively with threats and punishments that they contract all manner of evil tempers, and doggedly resent all correction.’ After more plain speaking of this kind the abbot, with a sigh, confessed that his method of education had been all wrong, and promised to try and amend it.
Anselm’s own tact in dealing with the young was illustrated by his management of a youthful monk named Osbern. Osbern was clever, but headstrong, and set himself up as the leader of a small faction which resented the appointment of Anselm as prior. Anselm first softened him by forbearance and small indulgences. Having thus gained his affection, he gradually withdrew the indulgences, and subjected him at last to the full rigour of monastic discipline, even to the extent of punishing him with stripes—Osbern stood all these tests even in the face of taunts from his companions, and became exceedingly dear to the prior, who rejoiced over his steady growth in goodness. After a while, however, he was stricken with a mortal illness. Anselm watched him by day and night. As the end drew near, Anselm charged him, if it were possible, to reveal himself to him after death. Osbern promised and passed away. When the body was placed in the church and the brethren were chanting the psalms, Anselm retired to a corner of the building to weep and pray in secret, and at length, overpowered by weariness and sorrow, he fell asleep. In his sleep he saw certain forms of most reverend aspect, clad in the whitest of garments, enter the room where Osbern had died, and sit in a circle as if to give judgment. Presently there entered Osbern himself, pale and haggard. Anselm asked him how he fared. ‘Thrice,’ said he, ‘did the old serpent rise up against me, thrice did I fall backwards, and thrice did the bearward of the Lord deliver me.’ Then Anselm awoke and was comforted Eadmer. The memory of Osbern never faded from his mind. During a whole year he offered a daily mass for Osbern’s soul, and in one of his letters to his friend Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, he writes: ‘Wherever Osbern is, his soul is my soul; farewell! farewell! I pray, I pray, I pray, remember me, and forget not the soul of Osbern my beloved, and if that seem too much for you, then forget me and remember him.’
Notwithstanding his powerful influence, Anselm shrank with extreme reluctance from the responsibility of ruling others. When he was unanimously elected abbot of Bec on the death of Herlwin, he besought the brethren with the most passionate entreaties to spare him; and it was only in deference to their persistence and the authority of the archbishop of Rouen that he yielded at last. As abbot he gave up most of the secular business of the house to such of the brethren as he could trust, and devoted himself to study, meditation, and the instruction of others. If the monastery, however, was involved in any lawsuit of importance, he took care to be present in court, in order to prevent any chicanery being practised by his own party; but if the other side used craft and sophistry, he heeded not, and occupied his time in discussing some passage in the Scriptures or some question of ethics, or calmly went to sleep. Yet if the cunning arguments of his opponents were submitted to his judgment he speedily detected the flaws in them, and tore them to pieces as if he had been wide awake and listening all the time. He was also obliged occasionally to visit the property of the house in various parts of Normandy and Flanders. These journeys brought him into contact with persons of all ranks and conditions, and many gave themselves and their property to the monastery. For himself he never would accept anything as his private possession.
He visited England soon after he became abbot, not only to look after the English possessions of his house, but also to see Lanfranc, now primate. He was received with great respect at Canterbury, and, after making an address to the monks of Christ Church, was admitted as a member of the house. Here began his acquaintance with Eadmer, one of the brotherhood, who became his most devoted friend and biographer. He has recorded the great impression which Anselm made at Canterbury by the wonderful way he discoursed and by his private conversation. His large-heartedness also was displayed on this occasion in his decision of a case which the archbishop submitted to him. Lanfranc told Anselm that he doubted the claim of one of his predecessors, Archbishop Ælfeah, to martyrdom, because, although he had been murdered by the Danes, he did not die in defence of any religious truth. Anselm, however, maintained that since Ælfeah died rather than wring a ransom from his tenants, he had died for righteousness’ sake, and that he who died for righteousness would certainly have died for Christ himself who taught it, and therefore he was fully entitled to the honours of martyrdom Eadmer, Vita, i. 41–44).
The almost feminine tenderness of Anselm’s nature appeared in his treatment of the lower animals, which he regarded with respect as the product of God’s hand. And, as in the love of animals for their offspring he saw an emblem of the love of God for man, so in any cruelty to animals on the part of man he saw a figure of the devil’s malice and his hatred to all God’s creatures. Thus, one day seeing a bird teased by a boy who had fastened a string to its leg and let it fly a little way in order to pull it back again, he made him release it, saying that was just the way in which the devil served his victims. So also when a hare ran for shelter under the legs of his horse, and the hunters crowded round with noisy delight at its capture, he burst into tears and forbade them to touch it, saying that it was an apt image of the departing soul of man, which on going forth from the body was beset by the evil spirits who had pursued it all through life. So he suffered not the dogs or hunters to touch the hare.
William the Conqueror received his death-wound in 1087. In the presence of Anselm we are told that he who to most men seemed harsh and terrible became so mild that bystanders looked on with amazement. And when he lay dying in the abbey of Saint Gervase at Rouen he sent for Anselm to hear the confession of his burdened conscience. Anselm came from Bec. William, however, put off seeing him for a few days, deeming that he should get better. Meanwhile Anselm himself fell ill, and before he had recovered the king died. Anselm, however, was present at the strange and terrible scenes amidst which the body of the Conqueror was laid in the minster of Saint Stephen at Caen.
Lanfranc crowned William the Red king of England, and in the following year, 1089, he died. William the Red was, unlike his father, profligate and profane, without reverence for goodness, or respect for law and justice. He found a minister worthy of himself in Ralph Flambard, a lowborn Norman clerk, a coarse and unscrupulous man. One simple expedient for replenishing the royal treasury was to keep the great offices of the church vacant and confiscate their revenues.
After the death of Lanfranc the see of Canterbury was kept vacant for more than three years, and its lands were farmed to the highest bidders. The whole nation was shocked by this shameless spoliation of the metropolitan see, and longed to see the man appointed to it who, on his visits to England, had won the hearts of all men, and who was admitted to have no superior in Christendom in piety and learning. But the king cared not. Meanwhile, in 1092 Hugh of Avranches, earl of Chester, invited Anselm to England, to assist him in the work of substituting monks for canons in the minster of Saint Werburgh at Chester. Anselm, however, having heard the rumour which marked him out for the primacy, and fearing that the motives of his visit might be misconstrued, declined to come; but at last he was compelled to yield to the urgent entreaties of the earl, who said that he was mortally ill, and that if Anselm did not come his soul’s peace in the future world might be for ever disturbed. The chapter of Bec also wished him to go, in order to get the royal exactions on their English property lightened. So he set sail from Boulogne, where he had been staying with the Countess Ida, and reached Canterbury on 8 Sept., the eve of the Nativity of the Virgin; but being hailed by monks and people as their future archbishop, he hurried away early the next morning. On his road to Chester he visited the court, where he was received with great honour, even by the king himself. Anselm asked for a private interview, in which he rebuked the king for the evil things which men said were done by him. William seems to have turned the subject off with a laugh, saying he could not prevent idle rumours, and that the holy man ought not to believe them. So they parted, and Anselm went on to Chester. Here he found Earl Hugh restored to health, and after spending some months in settling the new constitution of Saint Werburgh he desired to return to Normandy; but the king would not give him leave to go. In the baseness of his soul he may have thought that Anselm secretly desired the primacy, and that even he might be induced to pay some price for it. Meanwhile the midwinter gemot, held at Gloucester, had passed a resolution that the king should be asked to allow prayers to be offered in all churches that God would put it into his heart to appoint some worthy man to the long vacant see. The king assented, but contemptuously remarked, ‘Pray what ye will; no man’s prayer shall shake my purpose.’ Anselm was compelled to frame the prayer. After the gemot the king went to a royal seat at Alvestone, near Gloucester. Here one of his nobles spoke one day of the virtues of Anselm, how he was a man who loved God only, and desired nothing belonging to this fleeting world. ‘Not even the archbishopric?’ said William, with a sneer. ‘No, not even that,’ replied the other, ‘and many think with me.’ The king, however, maintained that had Anselm the least chance of it he would rush to embrace it, but ‘by the holy face of Lucca,’ he added, ‘neither he nor any one else shall be archbishop at present except myself.’ Soon after this the king was taken very ill. He was moved to Gloucester; the lay nobles, bishops, and other great men visited the sick and, as it was thought, dying man, and urged him to redress the wrongs which he had inflicted on the nation, and especially on the church. But the king’s advisers felt the need of some one at this critical moment who had peculiar skill in awakening the conscience and ministering to the diseases of the soul. There was no one comparable to Anselm, and he, unconscious of the king’s illness, was sojourning not far from Gloucester. He was fetched with all speed. He heard and approved of the advice already given to the king; the holy man was brought to the bedside of the royal sinner; he bade him make a clean confession of his misdeeds, solemnly promise amendment if he should recover, and promptly perform it. The king confessed, and pledged his faith that if he recovered he would rule with justice and mercy. He took the bishops to be witnesses of his promise, and to record it before the altar. Further, a proclamation was issued under the royal seal, promising all manner of reforms, ecclesiastical and civil. But the great men of the realm urged on him the duty of proving his repentance by doing immediate justice to the long vacant see of Canterbury. The sick man signified his willingness. He was asked to name the man whom he deemed worthy of such an office. He raised himself with an effort on his arm in the bed, and, pointing to Anselm, said, ‘I choose yonder holy man’. A shout of joy rang through the chamber. When Anselm heard it he trembled and turned pale, and when the bishops tried to drag him to the king to receive the pastoral staff at his hands he resisted with all his force. The bishops took him aside and remonstrated with him. Anselm pleaded that he was an old man, unused to worldly affairs, and unfitted for the duties of so burdensome an office. Moreover, he was the subject of another realm, and he owed allegiance not only to the Duke of Normandy but to the archbishop of Rouen, and to the chapter of his own abbey. These pleas, however, were all made light of, and he was again taken to the bedside of William, who besought him by his friendship for his father and mother to yield to the general wish. Anselm was inflexible. At the king’s bidding they fell down at his feet, but Anselm prostrated himself also, and could not be persuaded. Then they lost patience; they partly pushed and partly pulled him to the king’s bedside. The king presented the pastoral staff; they held out Anselm’s hand to take it, but he kept his hand tightly clenched; they tried to force it open till he cried aloud with pain. At length they succeeded in unclosing his forefinger, and thrust the staff in between that and the other clenched fingers. Anselm was borne rather than led into the neighbouring church, still protesting and exclaiming, ‘It is nought that ye do.’ ‘It would have been difficult,’ he says, in a letter to the monks at Bec, ‘for a looker-on to say whether a sane man was being dragged by a crowd of madmen, or whether sane men were dragging a madman along’. After some ceremony in the church, Anselm went back to the king and renewed his protest in the shape of a prophecy. ‘I tell thee, my lord king, that thou wilt not die of this sickness; therefore thou mayest undo what thou hast done in my case, for I have not consented, nor do I now consent, to its being ratified.’ Then, turning to the bishops, he told them they did not know what they were doing: they were yoking an untamed bull with a weak old sheep to the plough of the church, which ought to be drawn by two strong oxen. He then burst into tears, and, faint with fatigue and distress, retired to his lodging. All this took place on the first day of Lent, 6 March 1093. The king gave orders that Anselm should be inducted without delay into the temporal possessions of the see, and that meanwhile he should reside on some of the archiepiscopal manors under the care of his friend Gundulf, bishop of Rochester. The consent of Robert, duke of Normandy, and of the archbishop of Rouen to the appointment of Anselm was easily obtained, but the monks of Bec were very reluctant to part with their beloved abbot, and it was after a long debate and by a very narrow majority that they acquiesced in the appointment.
Meanwhile the Red King recovered, and repented of his repentance. His last state was worse than the first, and the ill which he had done before seemed good in comparison with the evil which he did now. And when Bishop Gundulf remonstrated with him he swore by his favourite oath, the holy face of Lucca, that he would never requite good for the ill which God had done to him. He did not, however, revoke the appointment of Anselm.
In the course of the summer of 1093 William, returning from a conference at Dover with the count of Flanders, met Anselm at Rochester. Anselm then told him that he was still hesitating whether he would accept the archbishopric, but if he did it must be on three conditions:
1) that all the lands belonging to the see in the time of Lanfranc should be restored without any lawsuit or dispute,
2) that the king should see justice done in respect of lands upon which the see had a long-standing claim,
3) that in matters pertaining to God the king should take him for his counsellor and spiritual father, as he on his part would acknowledge the king as his earthly lord. Lastly he warned the king that of the two rival claimants to the papacy, Clement and Urban, he himself, in common with the whole Norman church, had acknowledged Urban, and to this choice he must adhere. The king took counsel with Count Robert of Meulan and William of Saint Calais, bishop of Durham, a prelate who had a few years before been banished for appealing to the pope against a judgment of the king and witan on a purely temporal charge, but who appears throughout the transaction with Anselm one of the most zealous supporters of the royal supremacy. The king asked Anselm to repeat his statement in the hearing of these counsellors, and after conferring with them he replied that he would restore all the lands which had belonged to the see in the time of Lanfranc, but upon the other points he should reserve his judgment.
A few days afterwards he summoned Anselm to Windsor, and begged him to accept the primacy to which he was called by the choice of the whole realm. It is remarkable that neither at this point of the story nor any other is there a distinct record of any formal election, either by the monks at Canterbury or by the witan. Expressions to that effect seem to be used in a vague and rhetorical sense, and to signify no more than the general desire that the archbishopric might be conferred on Anselm, and the unanimous approval of the appointment. We must either suppose that, the general wish in favour of Anselm being notorious, a formal election was deemed unnecessary, or that, if it did take place, it was for the same reason deemed needless by the chroniclers to make any formal record of it. With the request that Anselm would accept the primacy, the king coupled a request which started a fresh difficulty. Certain lands held of the archiepiscopal see by Englishmen on tenure of knight’s service before the Norman conquest had lapsed to the lord for lack of heirs during the incumbency of Lanfranc. They had, in fact, become demesne lands of the see, but during the vacancy the king had turned them into military fiefs, and he now arbitrarily summoned Anselm into the king’s court in order that this arrangement might be made permanent. But Anselm refused; it would involve, he thought, a wrong to the church which the king, as advocate, had no right to inflict, and which he himself, as trustee, had no right to permit. To accept the archbishopric on such terms would be very like a simoniacal transaction. The king was so much irritated by his refusal that Anselm began to hope he might, after all, escape the burden of the office he so much dreaded.
This, however, was not to be. The whole nation was enraged by the king’s relapse into evil courses, and was determined to force him, if possible, to a renewal of the promises which he had made during his sickness at Gloucester. A special gemot was held for this purpose at Winchester, in which the king solemnly renewed his pledges. Anselm was now persuaded to accept the archbishopric, and did homage according to custom. The royal writ was issued, announcing that the king had bestowed the archbishopric on Anselm with all the rights, powers, and possessions which belonged to the see, and with all liberties over all his men, and over as many thegns as King Edward had granted to the church. These last words seem to imply that the point disputed at Windsor was conceded in Anselm’s favour. On 5 September 1093, Anselm was enthroned at Canterbury amidst a rejoicing multitude. But the solemnity and festivity of the event was disturbed by one whose appearance was a sinister omen of troubles to come. To the indignation of all, the insolent Ralph Flambard took this strange opportunity of serving a writ in the king’s name for a suit against the primate. The object of the writ is not stated; we are only told that it concerned a matter with which the king’s court had properly nothing to do.
On 4 Dec. Anselm was consecrated by Thomas of Bayeux archbishop of York, assisted by all the bishops of the southern province except Wulfstan of Worcester, Herbert of Thetford, and Osbern of Exeter. According to the old ritual, the book of the Gospels, opened at random, was laid on the shoulders of the newly consecrated prelate, and the passage at which it opened was taken as a sort of omen of his episcopate. The passage which now presented itself was, ‘He bade many, and sent his servant at supper-time to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse.’
The Christmas gemot of 1093 was held at Gloucester. Anselm attended, and was warmly welcomed, not only by the nobility of the realm, but by the king himself. At this gemot a hostile message from Robert, duke of Normandy, was considered, and war was decreed. As usual the great need was money. The chief men offered their contributions, and Anselm offered 500 pounds of silver. The king accepted the gift graciously, but some malignant persons represented that he ought to have received a much larger sum, 2,000l. or 1,000l. at least. So a message was sent later to Anselm that his offer was rejected. Anselm sought an audience with the king, and entreated him to take the contribution, which, although his first, would not be his last. A free gift, however small, was far more valuable than a much larger one forcibly exacted. The king felt that this remark was intended as a reproof of his extortionate methods of raising money, and he angrily replied, ‘Keep your scolding and your money to yourself. I have enough of my own. Begone.’ Anselm departed, thankful, after all, that the gift had been refused, for no man could now insinuate that his gift was a preconcerted price for the archbishopric. He was urged to offer double the sum, but steadfastly refused, and bestowed his despised present on the poor. So the midwinter gemot broke up; Anselm went to his manor at Harrow, where he consecrated a church built by Lanfranc. His right was disputed by Maurice, bishop of London, in whose diocese the manor lay. The question was referred to the aged Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, who decided in favour of Anselm, declaring that the primates had always exercised free spiritual rights in all their manors wherever they might be. On 2 February 1094, the forces destined for the invasion of Normandy were collected at Hastings. Anselm and other bishops were summoned thither to invoke a blessing on the expedition. The passage of the army was delayed for more than a month by contrary winds. During this interval, on 11 Feb., Anselm, assisted by seven bishops, consecrated the church of the great abbey which the late king, in fulfilment of his vow, had reared upon the ground where his victory over Harold had been won. In one religious act, at least, the two unequal yokefellows, the fierce bull and the gentle sheep, William, the sinner, and Anselm, the saint, took part together as they stood before the altar of ‘Saint Martin of the place of battle.’
On 12 Feb. Anselm consecrated Robert Bloet bishop of Lincoln in the chapel of the castle at Hastings, and on the first day of Lent he presided at the ceremony of sprinkling ashes, and preached a sermon, in which he took the opportunity of rebuking the young courtiers for their mincing gait, their effeminate dress and habits, and especially that of wearing their hair long. He refused to give the ashes of penitence or administer absolution to those who would not abandon these customs. He had good reason for attacking them, since they were the outward signs of gross and detestable vice, vice which Anselm says in one of his letters had grown so common that many practised it without any consciousness of sin. The king himself was addicted to it; nevertheless Anselm tried to get his help in repressing it. In one of the daily interviews which he seems to have had with William at Hastings, he frankly told him that if he would hope for a blessing upon his expedition to Normandy or any other enterprise, he must aid in re-establishing Christianity, which had wellnigh perished out of the land. He therefore asked leave to hold a national synod of bishops, which was a time-honoured remedy in England and Normandy for ecclesiastical and moral evils. William replied that he would call a council at his own pleasure, not Anselm’s; ‘and pray,’ said he, with a sneer, ‘what will you talk about in your council?’ ‘The sin of Sodom,’ answered Anselm, ‘to say nothing of other detestable vices which have become rampant. Only let the king and the primate unite their authority, and this new and monstrous growth of evil may be rooted out.’ But the heart of the Red King was hardened, and he only asked, ‘And what good will come of this matter for you?’ ‘For me, perhaps, nothing,’ replied Anselm, ‘but something, I hope, for God and for thyself.’ ‘Enough!’ rejoined the king; ‘speak no more on this subject.’ Anselm obeyed, but turned to another evil, the injury done to religion by the prolonged vacancies in the abbeys. This touched the king in two of his tenderest points, his greed of money and his royal rights. ‘What,’ he burst forth, ‘are the abbeys to you? Are they not mine? Shall you do as you like with your manors, and shall I not deal as I choose with my abbeys?’ ‘The abbeys,’ returned Anselm, ‘are yours to protect as their advocate, not to waste and destroy. They belong to God, and their revenues are intended for the support of His ministers, not of your wars.’ ‘Your words are highly offensive to me,’ said the king; ‘your predecessor would never have dared to speak thus to my father. I will do nothing for you.’ So Anselm, seeing that his words were cast to the winds, rose up and went his way. But he was deeply vexed at this loss of the royal favour, because he felt that without it he could not accomplish the reforms on which his heart was set. He sent the bishops to the king to beg that he would take him into his friendship, or, at least, say why he refused it. The bishops returned, saying that the king did not accuse Anselm of anything, but would not show him any favour, because he ‘heard not wherefore he should.’ Anselm inquired what the latter words meant. ‘The mystery,’ replied the bishops, ‘is plain. If you want peace with him, you must give plenty of money. Offer him again the 500l. which he refused, and promise him as much more, to be raised from your tenants.’ Anselm indignantly rejected such a method. It would set a disastrous precedent for buying off the king’s wrath. The bishops urged him at least to repeat the offer of the 500l., but Anselm refused to give again what had been once rejected; moreover, he said he had promised it to the poor, and the greater part had already been given away. His words were reported to the king, who sent back his answer. ‘Yesterday I hated him much, to-day I hate him more, and tomorrow and henceforth I shall hate him with even bitterer hatred. I will no longer hold him as father and archbishop, and his blessing and prayers I utterly abhor and despise. Let him go where he will, and not tarry any longer to bless my voyage.’ ‘We therefore speedily left the court,’ says Eadmer, who became from this time his constant companion, ‘and abandoned the king to his will’. William crossed at length to Normandy about the middle of March. He spent much and gained little in his campaign, and returned to England on 28 December 1094.
Anselm had not yet received his pallium from the pope, which, although not considered essential to the validity of archiepiscopal functions, was looked upon as an indispensable badge of metropolitan authority; and Anselm had now been a full year in office without receiving it. Some time, therefore, in February 1095, he went to Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, where the king was keeping court, and asked leave to go to Rome for his pallium. The papacy was now claimed by two rivals, Urban and Clement. Normandy had acknowledged Urban. England had not as yet acknowledged either. William asked Anselm from which of the two he intended to get his pallium. ‘From Urban,’ was the reply; and he reminded the king of the warning he had given him at Rochester, that he had, when abbot of Bec, promised allegiance to Urban, and could not recede from it. William, however, maintained that Anselm could not obey the pope against the king’s will consistently with the allegiance due to himself. He had not yet acknowledged Urban, and it was neither his custom nor his father’s to let any one in England acknowledge any pope without his leave. Anselm felt that the king had no right to force any one into renouncing a choice made before he became a subject. The conflict, however, between the claims of the king and of the pope on his obedience was one which he rightly thought could be settled only by the great council of the nation. He asked for such a council, and the request was granted. A great assembly of the chief men in church and state was convened for Sunday, 11 March 1095, at the royal castle of Rockingham, on the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. A crowd of bishops, abbots, nobles, monks, clerks, and laymen were gathered at an early hour in the castle and the precincts. The king and a party of privy councillors sat in a separate chamber; a messenger passed to and fro between them and the general assembly, which seems to have been either in the chapel of the castle or the great hall which may have opened out of it.
Anselm himself opened the proceedings with an address; the bishops came from the royal presence chamber to hear it. He explained the object of the assembly, which was to decide whether there was any real incompatibility between his allegiance to the king and his obedience to Urban. The bishops, who, throughout these transactions, appear as timid and obsequious courtiers, replied that the archbishop was too wise and good a man to need advice from them; but, at any rate, no advice could they give him unless he first submitted absolutely to the king’s will. They reported his speech, however, to the king, who adjourned the proceedings to the morrow.
On Monday, therefore, Anselm, sitting in the midst of the assembly, asked the bishops if they were now ready with their advice. But they had only the same answer to make. Then Anselm spoke in solemn tones, with uplifted eyes and kindling countenance, ‘Since you, the shepherds of the people, who are called the leaders of the nation, will give no counsel to me, your head, save according to the will of one man, I will betake me to the chief Shepherd and Head of all, to the Angel of great counsel, and will follow the counsel which I shall receive from Him in my cause, yea, rather in His cause and that of His church. He who declared that obedience was due to Saint Peter and the other apostles, and through them to the bishops, saying, “He that despiseth you despiseth me,” also taught that the things of Cæsar were to be rendered to Cæsar. By those words I will abide. In the things which are God’s I will give obedience to the vicar of the blessed Peter; in things touching the earthly dignity of my lord the king, I will, to the best of my ability, give him faithful counsel and help.’ The cowardly bishops could not gainsay the words of Anselm, but neither did they dare carry them to the king. So Anselm went himself to the presence chamber, and repeated them in the audience of William. The king was exceedingly wroth, and consulted with the bishops and nobles concerning the answer to be given. Their perplexity was extreme. They broke up into small groups, each discussing how some answer might be framed. Anselm meanwhile, having retired to the place of assembly, rested his head against the wall, and went quietly to sleep. At last he was roused by a party of bishops and lay lords bearing a message from the king. He demanded an immediate answer from Anselm. As for the matter at issue between him and the primate, it needed no explanation. For themselves the bishops counselled Anselm to cast away his obedience to Urban, and freely submit, as became an archbishop of Canterbury, to the king’s will in everything. Anselm replied that he certainly would not renounce his obedience to the pope, but as the day was far spent he asked leave to reserve his answer for the morrow. The bishops suspected this meant that he was wavering, or that he did not know what to say. The crafty and unscrupulous William of Saint Calais, bishop of Durham, who was the leader of the bishops on the king’s side, now thought he would be able to drive Anselm into a corner. He boasted to the king that he would force the primate either to renounce obedience to the pope, or to resign the archiepiscopal staff and ring. This fell in with the king’s wishes. So the bishop of Durham and his party hastened back to Anselm, and informed him that no delay would be granted him unless he immediately reinvested the king with the imperial dignity of which he had robbed him by having made the bishop of Ostia pope without his authority. Anselm, having patiently listened to this peremptory address, calmly replied: ‘Whoever wishes to prove that I violate my allegiance to my earthly sovereign, because I will not renounce my obedience to the sovereign pontiff of the Holy Roman Church, let him come forward, and he will find me ready to answer him as I ought and where I ought.’ These last words disconcerted the bishop and his friend, for they understood him to mean that, as archbishop of Canterbury, he could not be judged by any one save the pope—a doctrine which it seems no one was prepared to deny. Meanwhile a murmur of sympathy with Anselm ran through the mixed throng. A soldier stepped forward, and, kneeling before the archbishop, said, ‘My lord father, thy children beseech thee, through me, not to be disquieted, but to be mindful how the blessed Job, on his dunghill, overcame the devil, and avenged Adam, who had been vanquished in Paradise.’ Anselm graciously received this odd address from the honest man, for it assured him that he had the good will of the people. The discomfited bishops returned to the king, and were loaded with reproaches. On the morrow, Tuesday, Anselm once more took his seat, awaiting the king’s message. The councillors were perplexed. Even William of Saint Calais had no course to recommend but force. The staff and ring might be wrested from the primate, and he himself expelled from the kingdom. But this suggestion did not please the lay nobles. It would be an awkward precedent if the first vassal in the kingdom were deprived of his fief at the king’s pleasure. William, in a rage, told them that he would brook no equal in his kingdom; if the proposal of the bishop of Durham did not please them, let them consult and say what would; for, by the face of God, if they did not condemn Anselm, he would condemn them. Count Robert of Meulan then spoke: ‘As for our counsel I own I know not what to say; for when we have been devising plans all day, and considering how we can make them hang together, the archbishop innocently goes to sleep, and then when they are submitted to him, with one puff of his lips he blows them to pieces as if they were cobwebs.’ The king then turned to the bishops, but they had no suggestion to offer. Anselm was their primate, and they had no power to judge or condemn him, even had any crime been proved against him. The king then proposed that they might at least withdraw their obedience and brotherly intercourse from the archbishop. And to this strange suggestion they had the baseness to accede. Accompanied by some abbots, they announced their intention to Anselm, and informed him that the king also withdrew his trust and protection, and would no longer hold him for archbishop or spiritual father. Anselm mildly replied that they did ill to withdraw their allegiance from him because he refused to withdraw his own from the successor of the chief of the apostles. Although the king withdrew all protection from him, he would not cease to care for the king’s soul; retaining the title, power, and office of archbishop, whatever oppression it might be his lot to suffer. William now tried to make the lay lords abandon the archbishop, saying, ‘No one shall be my man who chooses to be his,’ to which the nobles replied that as they never were the archbishop’s men, they had no fealty to withdraw; ‘notwithstanding,’ they said, ‘he is our archbishop; to him pertains the rule of Christianity in this land, and in this respect we cannot, whilst we live here as christians, refuse his guidance.’ William dissembled his wrath, for he was afraid of offending the nobles, whose manly utterance put the craven conduct of the bishops in a more odious light. The king tightened his grip upon these wretched time-servers, required an unconditional renunciation of their obedience to Anselm, and squeezed more money out of them to buy back his favour. Anselm meanwhile requested a safe-conduct to one of the havens and leave to quit the kingdom. William heartily wished to be rid of him, but did not wish him to go while seised of the archbishopric, yet saw no way to disseise him of it. In this dilemma the nobles proposed a truce, and an adjournment of the whole question to Whitsuntide. This proposal was made on the fourth day of the meeting, Wednesday, 14 March, and Anselm assented to it. And so ended the famous meeting at Rockingham. It seemed to come to nothing; nevertheless a great moral victory had been gained.
William kept the letter of the truce with Anselm, but vented his spite by attacking his friends. He expelled Baldwin of Tournay, a monk of Bec, one of Anselm’s most confidential friends, from the kingdom, he arrested his chamberlain, and worried his tenants by unjust lawsuits and imposts. His next device was to gain the pope to his side. He secretly despatched two clerks of the Chapel Royal, Gerard, afterwards archbishop of York, and William of Warelwast, afterwards bishop of Exeter, to Rome, first to ascertain which was the real pope, secondly to persuade him to send the pallium to the king, so that he might be able to bestow it on any one he pleased should he succeed in getting rid of Anselm. The envoys had no difficulty in discovering that Urban was the pope in possession. They acknowledged him in the name of the king, and obtained their request. Cardinal Walter, bishop of Albano, returned to England with them, bringing the pallium. The journey was made with all speed, in order to reach England before Whitsuntide. Great secrecy also was observed. The legate was not allowed to converse with any one, except in the presence of the envoys, and on reaching England he was hurried to the court without being allowed to tarry in Canterbury or to see Anselm. Shortly before Whitsuntide he had an interview with the king. What passed is not recorded, but it was understood that William was encouraged to hope that his wishes would be granted, and that the legate had not spoken a word on Anselm’s behalf. The king now ordered a formal recognition of Urban as pope to be published throughout his dominions, and he then asked the legate that Anselm might be deposed by papal authority, promising a large annual payment to the Roman see if his request was granted. But he had overshot his mark. The cardinal flatly declared such a compact to be out of the question. Thus William had gained nothing and lost much by his dealing with Rome. He had acknowledged Urban, whom Anselm had acknowledged long ago, and, instead of getting rid of the primate, it seemed now impossible to avoid going through the form at least of reconciliation with him. This took place at Windsor, where Anselm was summoned to meet the king at Whitsuntide. He was again urged to propitiate the king by money and to receive the pallium from his hands; but he was inflexible, and the king had to give way. On the third Sunday after Trinity (10 June 1095) the legate brought the pallium with great pomp in a silver casket to Canterbury. He was met by the monks of the two monasteries of Christchurch and Saint Augustine, and a vast concourse of clergy and laity. Near the cathedral the procession was met by Anselm, barefoot, but in full pontificals and attended by his suffragans. The sacred gift was laid upon the altar, thence it was taken by Anselm and presented to be kissed by those who were round about him, after which he put it on and celebrated mass. A short interval of peace now followed. The king went northwards to put down a revolt of Robert of Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland. The archbishop stayed at Canterbury, the care of the city, and apparently of Kent, being committed to him under the king’s writ and seal, against an expected attack from Normandy. So faithful was he to this trust that he refused to leave Canterbury even for a day to confer with the papal legate upon the reforms in the church which he had so much at heart. He attended the Christmas gemot at Windsor, where his bitter adversary, William of Saint Calais, died. Anselm received his confession and tended him in his dying hours with affectionate care. He had already absolved two bishops who had expressed penitence for their conduct at Rockingham, Osmund of Salisbury, the compiler of the celebrated Use of Sarum, and Robert of Hereford. Most of the other bishops now followed their example; yet there were some who still remained hostile, and when the papal legate remonstrated, they had the incredible baseness to say that Anselm was not a lawful archbishop because he had received investiture from a king who at the time was in schism with Rome, the very king to whom they themselves had paid the most obsequious homage.
On 18 Nov. 1095 the first crusade was preached by Urban at Clermont in Auvergne. Robert, duke of Normandy, was seized with the impulse which stirred the heart of Christendom, but his treasury was empty and his hold on his duchy was weak. He therefore mortgaged it for three years to his brother William for the sum of 10,000 marks, which the Red King undertook to raise. The sum was levied with great difficulty. The clergy were already so impoverished that to furnish contributions they were forced to part with many of their most sacred treasures. Anselm was willing to contribute, but he had not enough ready money. By the advice of Walkelin, bishop of Winchester, and Gundulf of Rochester, he borrowed 100 pounds from the monks of Christ Church on the security of his manor of Peckham, which he mortgaged to them for seven years. It turned out a very good bargain for the monks, who enlarged the east end of the cathedral out of the Peckham rents. Altogether Anselm scraped together 200 pounds, and the king seems to have been satisfied. The bargain between the king and his brother was settled in September 1096. Robert started for Palestine. William took possession of Normandy, and remained in the duchy till the following Easter, when the disturbed state of Wales brought him back to England. After holding a gemot at Windsor in April he made a great expedition into Wales, which seemed to be successful. The submission of the country turned out to be only nominal, but at the moment the Red King, by the acquisition of Normandy and reduction of Wales, appeared to have reached the height of his prosperity. A favourable opportunity seemed to have come for again pressing reforms on the king. It may have been, as Anselm believed, only another device to put off the discharge of this duty, that the king, on his return from Wales, wrote an angry letter complaining of the contingent of knights whom Anselm had furnished for the Welsh campaign. They were so ill equipped, he said, and ill trained as to have been quite useless, and Anselm must expect a summons in the King’s court to ‘do him right.’ The archbishop did not think it necessary to take any notice of this petulant message. He attended the Whitsuntide gemot, and was graciously received. He again exhorted the king to set about the work of reform, but his appeals were utterly vain, and he now resolved to take the step to which his mind had been gravitating for some time. He sent a formal message to the king by some of the nobles, saying that he was driven by urgent need to ask his leave to go to Rome. The king refused the license. But Anselm had quite made up his mind that the only hope of redress for his own wrongs or the wrongs of the church lay in an appeal to the pope. He renewed his request at another gemot held in August, and again at Winchester in October. The king was now thoroughly enraged. He not only refused the license, but declared that Anselm must pay a fine for asking it. Anselm offered to give good reasons for his request, which the king declined to hear, and told him that if he did go he should seize the archbishopric and never receive him as archbishop again. An adjournment was granted for one day, and on the morrow Anselm said he still asked for the license. For the sake of his own soul, for the sake of religion, and for the king’s own honour and profit, it was needful he should go, and if the king would not grant leave he must go without it, obeying God rather than man. The bishops again urged submission. ‘You have spoken well,’ said Anselm; ‘do you go to your lord, and I will cleave to my God.’ The lay barons also were now against him. He had sworn to observe the customs of the realm, and it was contrary to those customs for any man in his position to go to Rome without the king’s license. Anselm replied that he had indeed promised to observe the customs, but only so far as they were in accordance with right and agreeable to the will of God. He went into the royal presence chamber, and, seating himself at the king’s right hand, maintained this doctrine at some length, until the king and Count Robert of Meulan exclaimed that he was preaching a sermon, and a general uproar followed. Anselm quietly waited till it had subsided, and then summed up his argument. He then rose and departed, accompanied by the faithful Eadmer. They were followed by a messenger from William, who told Anselm that he might leave the kingdom, but must not take anything belonging to the king. ‘I have horses, clothes, and furniture,’ replied Anselm; ‘perhaps some one will say they belong to the king; if so, I will go naked and barefoot rather than abandon my purpose.’ The king sent word back that he did not wish him to go naked and barefoot, but he must be at the haven ready to cross within eleven days, and there a messenger would meet him, and let him know what he might take with him. Anselm returned to the presence chamber, and, addressing the king with a cheerful countenance, ‘My lord,’ he said, ‘I am going. … Now, therefore, not knowing when I shall see you again, I commend you to God, and as a spiritual father to a beloved son, as archbishop of Canterbury to the king of England, I would fain, before I go, give you God’s blessing and my own, if you refuse it not.’ For a moment the heart of the Red King was touched; ‘his good angel perhaps spoke to him then for the last time. “I refuse not your blessing,” was his answer. The man of God arose, the king bowed his head, and Anselm made the sign of the cross over it’. Then he departed, and the saint and the sinner never met again.
This happened on 15 October 1097, and Anselm immediately left Winchester for Canterbury. On the day after his arrival he took an affecting farewell of the monks. Then, in the presence of a great congregation, he took the pilgrim’s staff and scrip from off the altar, and, having commended the weeping multitude to Christ, he set forth for Dover, accompanied by Eadmer and Baldwin. At Dover they found the king’s chaplain, William of Warelwast, awaiting them. For fourteen days they were detained by stress of weather, during which William of Warelwast was Anselm’s guest. At last the wind was favourable, and Anselm and his party hastened to the shore. But William of Warelwast forbade their embarking until their baggage had been searched. This was done upon the beach amidst the astonishment and execration of the bystanders; but nothing was found which could be seized for the king, and after this vexatious delay Anselm and his friends set sail and landed safely at Whitsand. As soon as they were out of the country, the king not only seized the estates of the see, but cancelled all acts and decrees relating to them made by the archbishop. Meanwhile Anselm, after halting a while at the monastery of Saint Omer, journeyed through France and the duchy of Burgundy to Cluny, where he had a hearty welcome and spent Christmas. A curious story is told by Eadmer how Odo, duke of Burgundy, tempted by the report of the archbishop’s riches, set out, intending to plunder him on the way, but was so completely captivated by Anselm’s manner and appearance that he accepted his kiss and his blessing, and gave him a safe conduct. The roads were deemed dangerous for travelling in the winter; so the rest of the season was spent at Lyons with the Archbishop Hugh, who was an old friend of Anselm. From Lyons he wrote a letter to Pope Urban, explaining the purpose of his coming; how he had spent four fruitless miserable years in the high office which had been forced upon him, how he had seen the church plundered and oppressed, how he had no hope of getting these evils redressed in England. He therefore sought the protection and counsel of the apostolic see. The bearers of the letter returned with a pressing invitation from the pope, and in the spring Anselm and his friends set forth. They preserved a strict incognito, for fear of robbers in the pay of the antipope Clement, and reached Rome in safety. Here they were warmly welcomed by the pope, and lodged in the Lateran. The day after they arrived there was a grand gathering of the Roman nobility at the papal palace, which Anselm attended. When he prostrated himself at the feet of the pontiff, Urban raised him up and embraced him, and made him sit by his side. He then introduced him to the assembly as the patriarch or pope of another world, a miracle of virtue and learning, the champion of the Roman see, yet so humble as to seek from the unworthy occupant the counsel which he himself was more fitted to give. In fact, Eadmer says Anselm was quite disconcerted by the pope’s flattery. After the public reception Urban heard the narrative of his wrongs, and promised him his assistance.
Meanwhile the season was approaching when Rome was unhealthy for strangers, and Anselm was urged by the abbot of Telese in Apulia, formerly one of his scholars at Bec, to take up his abode with him. This he did with the consent of the pope, and as the heat increased the abbot transferred him to the mountain village of Schiavi. The weary old man was enchanted with the pure cool air the seclusion and repose of this sweet retreat. He resumed the simple studious habits which he had loved so well in his happy days at Bec, and he completed his treatise on the incarnation, the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ which he had begun amidst all the turmoil of his life in England. He was obliged, however, to leave his retreat, in order to meet the pope in the camp of Duke Roger of Apulia, who was besieging Capua. Their quarters were close together, a little outside the actual camp. Eadmer tells us how all folk, including even the Saracens in the army of Count Roger of Sicily, were charmed by Anselm. William of Malmesbury says that the Red King wrote to Duke Roger to try and prejudice him against Anselm. The duke, however, was so captivated by Anselm, that he besought him to take up his abode in Apulia, offering to bestow some of his best lands upon him if he did. To this Anselm would not consent, but he entreated the pope to relieve him of the archbishopric, in which he was convinced that he could do no good whilst William was on the throne, of whose outrages on religion and morals travellers continually brought fresh tidings. Urban, however, would not release him, and for the present he returned to Schiavi, where he remained until summoned to attend the council of Bari in October 1098. At the council of Bari the question of the ‘procession of the Holy Ghost’ was discussed with the Greek delegates. A hot debate arose. The pope referred to Anselm’s work on the Incarnation, and presently called on Anselm himself to step forward and vindicate the true doctrine of the Holy Ghost before the assembly. An eager crowd thronged round the papal throne, immediately below which Anselm was placed. Urban then formally introduced him, and expatiated on the wrongs which had driven him from England. His speech on the doctrinal question was delivered the next day, and is described as a masterpiece of learning and power, for which he was publicly thanked by the pope; but we have no detailed report of it. The sympathy of the council with his troubles was so strong that they unanimously urged the excommunication of the Red King, which, according to Eadmer, the pope was only hindered from promulgating by the intercession of Anselm himself. Urban, however, was a wary man, and it may be doubted whether he intended more than a demonstration. Anselm and his friends accompanied the pope from Bari to Rome, and soon after their arrival shortly before Christmas, 1098, William of Warelwast appeared as advocate for the Red King. In a public audience Urban adopted a severe and threatening tone, telling him that if the king did not reinstate Anselm before the council to be held the next Easter he must expect to be excommunicated. William’s agent, however, knew how to deal with the papal court. He tarried several days in Rome, and made good use of his time by a judicious distribution of gifts amongst the councillors of the pope. The result of his dealings was that the pope granted William a respite to the following Michaelmas. Anselm and his companions now began to see that they were leaning upon a broken reed, and they asked leave to return to Lyons. But the pope insisted on their remaining for the great council to be held at Easter, and meanwhile paid Anselm all possible honour. When the council assembled in Saint Peter’s in April 1099, there was some curiosity to see where he would be seated, as no one present had ever seen an archbishop of Canterbury attend a general council at Rome. The pope ordered him to be placed in the seat of honour in the centre of the half-circle of prelates who sat on either side of the papal chair, and therefore immediately opposite himself. Decrees were passed or renewed against simony and clerical marriages, and anathema was pronounced against the layman who should bestow investiture of an ecclesiastical benefice, or the clerk who should receive it at his hands and become his man. This decree was flatly opposed to the ‘customs’ of England and Normandy, and became the occasion of the dispute which afterwards arose between Anselm and Henry I. When the canons were to be read in Saint Peter’s, the pope ordered Reinger, bishop of Lucca, a man of great stature and powerful voice, to read, so that all might hear. Reinger read a little way, then suddenly stopped, and burst forth into an indignant declamation upon the uselessness of passing laws when they did nothing to right a man who was the meek victim of tyrannical oppression. ‘If you do not all know whom I mean,’ he said, ‘it is Anselm, archbishop of England;’ and he ended by smiting the floor thrice with his staff, and uttering a groan through his teeth tightly clenched. ‘Enough, enough! brother Reinger,’ said the pope; ‘good order shall be taken concerning this.’ The whole scene reads like a piece of acting. Anselm clearly suspected it to be so. At any rate nothing came of the demonstration, and the next day Anselm left Rome, ‘having obtained,’ says his biographer, with subdued irony, ‘nought of counsel or assistance save what I have related’. They reached Lyons in safety, travelling by a circuitous route to avoid the agents of the antipope, and were heartily welcomed by Archbishop Hugh. Anselm resided with him, and assisted him in his episcopal duties.
In the following July, 1099, Pope Urban died; and on 2 Aug. 1100 William fell in the New Forest, pierced by an arrow from an unknown hand. Anselm was sojourning at the monastery of God’s House (Casa Dei), not far from Brioude in Auvergne, when the tidings of William’s death reached him. It was brought by two monks, one from Canterbury, the other from Bec. At first he was stupefied by the shock, and then he broke into a flood of tears. His friends were astonished at this burst of grief over such a man as William; but Anselm, in a voice broken by sobs, declared that he would rather have died himself than that the king should have perished by such a death. He then returned to Lyons, where another monk from Canterbury presently arrived, bearing a letter from the mother-church, imploring him to return and comfort his children now the tyrant was no more. Archbishop Hugh was most unwilling to part with him, but owned that it was his duty to go. Before he reached Cluny another messenger came, bringing a letter from the new king Henry and the lay lords, begging Anselm to return with all speed, and even chiding him for not coming sooner. Normandy was in a disturbed state, as Robert had just returned, and the Norman nobles were intriguing with him, or through him, against his brother. So Anselm, by Henry’s advice, avoided Normandy on his journey to Whitsand, from which port he crossed to Dover. He landed on 23 September, and his return, after nearly three years’ absence, was welcomed with transports of joy by the whole country. The hopes of the nation revived. But as regarded the relations between the king and the primate they speedily received a check. Anselm had returned, pledged, as he conceived, to obey the canons of the councils of Clermont, Bari, and Rome, which forbade clerics to receive investiture at the hands of laymen, or do homage to them for their benefices. A difficulty arose at once between him and Henry on this point. They met at Salisbury a few days after he had landed, and the king was cordial in his greeting; but the temporalities of the see of Canterbury being in his hands, he required Anselm to do homage for their restitution, according to the ancient custom of the country. Anselm replied that he could not do this in the face of the canons lately passed by the council of Rome. The king was grievously perplexed. He was most unwilling to give up the ancient rights of investiture and homage, but he was also most unwilling to quarrel with Anselm, and especially before he was firmly established on the throne. He therefore proposed a truce until the following Easter, during which envoys should be sent to Rome to induce the pope to relax the decrees in favour of the ancient custom of the realm, and meanwhile Anselm was to be reinstated in all the possessions of his see. Anselm consented, although with little hope of the pope’s yielding. Personally he does not seem to have entertained any objection to the customs in question, to which he had himself formerly conformed. His opposition to the king was simply a matter of obedience to the Roman see. While matters were thus in a state of suspense, Anselm did the king a piece of good service. Henry was anxious to marry Matilda, whose English name was Eadgyth, the daughter of Malcolm, king of Scotland, and Margaret, his wife. Margaret was a granddaughter of Eadmund Ironside, and consequently an alliance with her daughter would connect Henry with the old royal line of England. But it was said by many that Matilda or Eadgyth was a nun, and therefore could not legally be married. Matilda, however, denied that she had taken any monastic vows. Her aunt Christina, a nun in the abbey of Romsey, to whose care she had been entrusted as a child, had made her wear the veil, and wished her to become a nun, but she had always refused. Anselm laid the case before a large assembly of clerics and laymen at Lambeth. Having heard the evidence of the maiden herself and of others, they decided that she was free. Anselm heard their reasons and approved their judgment. In the presence of a vast concourse which came to witness the royal marriage, he challenged any one who disputed its legality to come forward and prove his objection. A unanimous shout of approval was the response. Anselm then celebrated and blessed the marriage on 11 November 1100. Matilda was his firm friend through all his difficulties, and constantly corresponded with him when he was absent from England.
Easter came (1100), but the envoys had not returned from Rome. The truce therefore between Henry and Anselm was extended, and meanwhile he rendered another good service to the king. Ralph Flambard, the infamous bishop of Durham, had escaped from the Tower, in which he was imprisoned soon after Henry’s accession. He made for Normandy and stirred up Robert to attempt an invasion of England. It was a critical time for Henry. The chief men of Norman birth in England wavered in their allegiance. At the Whitsuntide gemot king and nobles met with mutual suspicion. Both sides looked to Anselm as a mediator, and the king holding his hand renewed the promise of good laws which he had made at his coronation. Robert landed at Portchester in July, and the armies met near Alton. Several of the Norman barons went over to Robert’s side, but, mainly owing to the indefatigable exhortations, public and private, of the archbishop, the mass of the English army and the bishops remained loyal to Henry. The brothers held a parley and came to terms without fighting. Robert gave up England. Henry gave up Normandy except Domfront, but it was only for a little time. At last the envoys returned from Rome. They brought a letter from Pope Paschal distinctly refusing to recognise Henry’s claim to invest prelates by the delivery of the pastoral staff and ring. The will of the pope and the will of the king were thus placed in direct conflict. Henry was not a violent man like Rufus, and he did not wish to quarrel with Anselm, but he was cold-blooded and resolute. Anselm was summoned to court and again asked if he would do homage and consecrate the prelates whom the king invested. Anselm replied that he must abide by the decrees of the council at which he had been present. The king proposed that a second and more distinguished embassy should be sent to Rome representing both sides. On Anselm’s side were his old friend and companion Baldwin of Bec, and Alexander, a monk of Canterbury; on the side of the king were Gerard, archbishop of York, who also went to get his pallium, Herbert, bishop of Thetford, and Robert, bishop of Chester. The envoys found Paschal as inflexible as before. A letter in the same determined strain was sent to the king, and another to Anselm bidding him to persevere in his present attitude. On the return of the envoys an assembly of the great men of the realm was convened in London. An unconditional surrender was again demanded from Anselm. This he declared to be impossible in the face of the letter which he had received from the pope. Every one was allowed to read this letter. The letter to the king, on the contrary, was not made public. And now, to the bewilderment of all, the king’s agents stepped forward and declared on their faith as bishops that the pope in a secret interview had bidden them tell the king that so long as he appointed good and pious prelates, and otherwise conducted himself as a good prince, the pope would not interfere with his claim to investiture, but the pope, they said, would not commit this to writing, lest other princes should quote it as a precedent. Anselm’s agents expressed the greatest amazement at this announcement. The assembly was divided. Some maintained that the greatest credence must be given to letters bearing the pope’s own seal and signature, others that the word of bishops must outweigh the authority of mere documents supported only by the testimony of paltry monks (monachellorum) unversed in secular affairs. In such a conflict of evidence and opinion there was clearly no alternative but to send yet another deputation to Rome to learn what the pope really had said. All that Anselm wanted to know was the truth. He wrote to the pope, saying that he did not wish to doubt either the letter or the bishops. Let the pope either exempt England from the decrees of the council, or let him say that they were to be obeyed, and Anselm would let them drop or he would enforce them, even at the peril of his life. Meanwhile he consented that the king should act on the assumption that the story of the bishops was true, and invest prelates with the ring and staff, and further he consented to hold intercourse with such prelates, provided he was not required to consecrate them. The king lost no time in acting on this understanding. He gave the see of Sarum to his clerk Roger, who became one of the ablest chancellors of the realm, and Hereford to another Roger who had been the steward of his larder. During this period of compromise, about Michaelmas 1102, a large mixed council was held at Westminster for the reform of abuses ecclesiastical and moral. It was the sort of national synod for which Anselm had repeatedly asked in vain during the reign of Rufus. Several abbots were deposed for simony, canons were passed against the secular habits of the clergy, and especially against their marriage and concubinage. One decree was passed against the slave traffic in England, whereby it is said men were sold like brute beasts; others were directed against those gross forms of vice which had become common during the reign of the late king. Henry seems to have violated the terms of the compromise with Anselm in asking him to consecrate the bishops whom he appointed and invested. Anselm of course refused, and Gerard of York, a timeserving courtier who was ready to consecrate anybody, was called upon to discharge the duty. But, to the general astonishment, some of the king’s nominees now began to turn scrupulous. Reinhelm, bishop-elect of Hereford, sent back his ring and staff, and William Giffard, when on the point of being consecrated bishop of Winchester, declared that he would rather be spoiled of all his goods than wrongfully receive the rite at the hands of Gerard. The multitude which had come to witness the consecration applauded the resolution of William, but the king was highly displeased, and in spite of Anselm’s intercession William Giffard was banished.
About the middle of the following Lent, 1103, the king and Anselm met at Canterbury. The messengers had returned from Rome bringing an indignant repudiation by the pope of the story told by Gerard and the other prelates, and confirming the contents of his letters in every particular. The king, however, still demanded submission from Anselm; his patience, he said, was worn out, he would brook no more delays, the pope had nothing to do with the rights which all his predecessors had enjoyed. Anselm was, as ever, respectful, but firm; he did not wish to deprive the king of his rights, but he could not, even to save his life, disobey the canons which he had with his own ears heard promulgated in the Roman council. For the moment the aspect of things seemed blacker than ever; men even began to fear for the personal safety of the primate, when suddenly, and with a mildness which makes one think that Henry had all along been assuming more sternness that he really felt, he suggested, almost besought, Anselm to go himself to Rome and try whether he could not induce the pope to give way. Anselm asked that the proposal might be reserved for the decision of the Easter gemot, which was then about to be held at Winchester. The assembly considered it and urged him to go. He replied that since it was their will he would go, weak and aged though he was. Anselm hastened back to Canterbury, and, setting out four days afterwards, embarked at Dover and crossed once more to Whitsand. He had not to suffer any indignities this time, but travelled in the king’s peace, and throughout his absence friendly letters passed between him and the king. He was warmly welcomed everywhere, more especially, of course, at Bec, where he spent the summer on account of the risk to health of visiting Rome in the hot season. By the end of August he set out. At Rome he found his old opponent William of Warelwast come to act as the king’s advocate. William pleaded so skilfully that he made a great impression on some of the pope’s councillors, and boldly wound up an harangue by saying, ‘Know all men present that not to save his kingdom will King Henry lose the investiture of the churches.’ ‘And before God, not to save his head will Pope Paschal let him have them,’ was the answer. Nevertheless a moderately worded letter was despatched to Henry, informing him that though the rights of investiture could not be granted, and those who received it at his hands must be excommunicated, yet he himself should be exempted from excommunication and enjoy the exercise of all other ancestral customs. In fact it was intended to be a soothing letter, and the points at issue were somewhat veiled by compliments and congratulations to the king on the birth of his son. Meanwhile Anselm and his friends set out on their homeward journey. They were conducted through the Apennines by the renowned Countess Matilda. At Placentia they were joined by William of Warelwast, who travelled with them over the Alps and then hastened to England, while Anselm went to Lyons to spend Christmas with his old friend the archbishop. Before they parted William told him that he had been bidden by the king to say that he felt the warmest regard for Anselm, and if Anselm would only be to the king all that his predecessor had been to Henry’s predecessors he would be right gladly welcomed. ‘Have you no more to say?’ asked Anselm. ‘I speak to a man of understanding,’ was the reply. ‘I know what you mean,’ said Anselm, and so they parted. At Lyons Anselm sojourned for a year and a half. The king confiscated the revenues of the see of Canterbury, but two of Anselm’s own men were appointed receivers, that the tenants might not be oppressed. Anselm was to be allowed whatever was convenient for his own needs, and the king continued to keep up an amicable correspondence with him. At the same time he sent another embassy to Rome. His aim seems to have been twofold. He wanted to persuade the pope to dispense with the canon against lay investiture in his favour, and meanwhile he hoped to persuade Anselm to act on the assumption that the pope would yield. He was not successful in either aim. The pope did not dare, even for the sake of securing Henry’s support, openly to set aside the canons of a Roman council, although he was dilatory in action and hesitating in speech. Anselm, on the contrary, was as firm, clear, and straightforward as ever. In spite of reproachful or suppliant letters from England urging him to return to his bereaved church, he steadfastly refused until the point in dispute was settled one way or the other. He would be to Henry all that Lanfranc had been to Henry’s father, if he could be put in Lanfranc’s position, if the decrees which had been passed since Lanfranc’s time were rescinded by the same authority which had issued them, not otherwise. The perfect straightforwardness of Anselm was in fact embarrassing both to Henry and the pope; neither of them wished to act with complete decision and honesty of purpose, nothing short of which would satisfy Anselm. He continually sent letters or messengers to the pope, but received nothing but consolatory promises which came to nothing, while from Henry he got nothing but polite excuses. At last he resolved upon an act which should force the question to a crisis. In the summer of 1105 he set out for Normandy, where the king then was. On the way he heard that Adela, countess of Blois, sister of the king, was very ill. He turned his steps to Blois, and tarried there some days till she was convalescent. Then he told her that for the wrong which her brother had done to God and to him for two years and more he was going to excommunicate him. Adela was greatly distressed, and Henry himself was alarmed when he heard of Anselm’s intention. It would tarnish his reputation to undergo such a sentence from a man of Anselm’s character, and might strengthen the hands of his adversaries in the critical struggle in which he was then engaged for the possession of Normandy. Through the mediation of Adela an interview was arranged between him and Anselm at Laigle on 22 July 1105. Nothing could exceed the courtesy of Henry; he restored the revenues of the see, he implored the primate to return if only he would recognise those who had been invested by the king. But Anselm insisted that permission to do this must be given from Rome. This involved yet another embassy, and there was considerable delay in sending it. Henry meanwhile added to the list of his wrongs done to the church by levying heavy taxes upon it for his expenses in the war with Normandy. He began by exacting fines from the clergy who had disobeyed the canons against marriage, but, finding the sums so raised inadequate, he imposed the tax on the whole body. The clergy were in great distress, and besought the queen, ‘good Queen Mold,’ to plead for them with the king; but though moved to tears by their sad plight she dared not interfere. In this strait even the court bishops began to turn to Anselm for help. They wrote a piteous letter, saying that if only he would return they would stand by him and fight for the honour of Christ. Anselm wrote a letter of sympathy, mixed with some gently ironical congratulations on their having perceived at last the consequences of their subservience, and expressing his regret that he could not return, anxious as he was to do so, until the pope had decided the point in dispute between him and the king. Meanwhile he wrote a severe letter of reproof to Henry for taking upon himself to punish priests, a duty which pertained to bishops only, and he warned him that the money so raised would not turn to his profit. At the same time he wrote to his archdeacon and to the prior and chapter of Canterbury, ordering the penalties of deprivation or excommunication to be enforced upon those clergy who infringed the canons concerning marriage. Henry replied to Anselm in polite but evasive terms, expressing himself ready to make amends if he had offended, and promising that the archiepiscopal property should not be molested.
At length, in April 1106, William of Warelwast and Baldwin of Bec returned with the latest instructions of the pope. Anselm was now authorised to release from excommunication those who had broken the canons about investiture and homage. The judgment laid down no rule for the future, but it set Anselm free to return and renew intercourse with the offending bishops, and the king sent messengers to Anselm at Bec urging him to come without delay. He was detained, however, for some time, partly at Bec, partly at Jumièges, by alarming illness. Henry expressed the greatest anxiety; all his wants were to be supplied, and the king would shortly cross to Normandy and pay him a visit. His life was despaired of, but just as he seemed on the brink of death he began to recover, and on the feast of the Assumption he was well enough to see the king at Bec. At this interview the king pledged himself to release the churches henceforth from the vexatious burdens laid on them by his brother, to exact no more fines from the clergy, to compensate in the course of three years those who had already paid them, and to restore everything which he had kept in his hands belonging to the see of Canterbury. Anselm now started for England, and landing at Dover was greeted with enthusiastic joy, in which the queen took a prominent part, going to meet him, and then travelling in advance in order to arrange for his comfort at the places where he halted. Henry remained in Normandy, and before long wrote to Anselm announcing his decisive victory at Tenchebrai over his brother Robert, and the complete subjugation of Normandy, 28 September 1106.
The final and formal settlement of the long dispute concerning investiture was made at a large gemot held in London on 1 Aug. 1107. It was debated for three days by the king and the bishops, Anselm being absent. Some were for still insisting on the old custom, but Pope Paschal had conceded the question of homage, and so the king on his part was the more willing to concede the right of investiture. In the presence, therefore, of Anselm and a great multitude of witnesses, the king granted and decreed that thenceforth no man in England should be invested with bishopric or abbey by staff and ring either by the hand of the king or any other layman, and Anselm on his side promised that no one elected to a prelacy should be debarred from consecration on account of having done homage to the king. In accordance with this compromise appointments were immediately made to several churches which had long been destitute of incumbents without any investiture by staff and ring from lay hands. On Sunday, the 11th, Anselm consecrated several men with whom he had not been able to hold communion to bishoprics, including William Giffard to Winchester, and Reinhelm to Hereford, who had refused to be consecrated by Gerard of York, Roger to Sarum, and William of Warelwast, so long his opponent but now his friend, to Exeter. Anselm did not long survive the termination of his protracted struggle for the rights and liberties of the church; and during this brief remainder of his life he was repeatedly attacked by severe illness. But in the intervals he was actively engaged, and we see the same indomitable spirit at work. He not only laboured to enforce the canons of London against simony and the marriage of the clergy, but largely through his efforts the king was moved to put down false coining with a strong hand, and a stricter discipline was maintained amongst his followers, whose acts of violence, when he made his progresses, had long been a cause of misery to the people. Anselm also promoted the erection of Ely into an episcopal see to relieve the great diocese of Lincoln, and he upheld the paramount dignity of the see of Canterbury against the pretensions of Thomas, archbishop elect of York, who tried to evade making his profession of obedience, but was compelled to do so by a decree passed in a gemot at London. Nor were his literary labours diminished; he carried on a wide correspondence with distinguished persons, clerical and lay, who sought his counsel in all parts of Christendom, including Alexander, king of the Scots, Murdach, king of the Irish, and Baldwin, king of Jerusalem; and he wrote a treatise ‘concerning the agreement of foreknowledge, predestination, and the grace of God with free will.’ The composition of this treatise was delayed by frequent interruptions of illness and increasing weakness. At last he became so feeble that he had to be carried in a litter from place to place instead of riding on horseback. Till within four days of his death he was carried daily into his chapel to attend mass. Then he took to his bed. On Palm Sunday, being told by one of those who stood around him that they thought he was about to leave the world to keep his Master’s Easter court, he replied, ‘If His will be so, I shall gladly obey it; but if He pleased rather that I should yet remain amongst you till I have solved a question which I am turning in my mind about the origin of the soul, I should receive it thankfully; for I know not any one who will finish it after I am gone.’ This wish, however, was not to be fulfilled. On Thursday he could no longer speak intelligibly, and on Wednesday, 21 April, at dawn he passed away, in the year 1109, the sixteenth of his pontificate and the seventy-sixth of his life. He was buried in the cathedral at Canterbury, next his friend Lanfranc, in the body of the church in front of the great rood; but his remains were afterwards removed to the chapel, beneath the south-east tower, which bears his name, and there they now rest. If guileless simplicity, spotless integrity, faithful zeal, and patient suffering for righteousness sake give any one a claim to be called ‘saint,’ Anselm certainly deserved the title. And it was by virtue of these qualities, combined with inflexible firmness, courage, and straightforward honesty of purpose, more than by his intellectual gifts, great as they were, that he won the day in his struggle first with lawless insolence, and then with diplomatic craft. After his death he became the object of increasing veneration to men of his own time, and to later generations. Dante, in his vision of Paradise, saw him ‘among the spirits of light and power in the sphere of the sun.’ A halo of miraculous legend gathered round the story of his life. Yet, strange to say, the first demand for his canonisation made by Thomas Becket was not successful, and he was not formally placed on the roll of saints till 1494, when he suffered what has been well called the ‘indignity of canonisation’ at the hands of Roderic Borgia, Pope Alexander VI.
A catalogue of Anselm’s writings is given below. His fame as a philosopher and theologian rests mainly upon three treatises—the ‘Monologion,’ the ‘Proslogion,’ and the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’
The ‘Monologion,’ which, as the name implies, is in the form of a continuous discourse as distinguished from a dialogue, is an attempt to prove the existence and nature of God by pure reason without the aid of Scripture or of any appeal to authority. It is an application of the Platonic theory of ‘ideas’ to the demonstration of christian doctrine. Some efforts in this direction had been made by the (so-called) Dionysius the Areopagite, whose writings had become well known in western Christendom through a translation made by John Scotus Erigena. Saint Augustine worked out the method more systematically in his treatise on the Trinity, but not with such completeness and precision as Anselm, whose treatise is one close and compact chain of reasoning, every link being, so to speak, tightly fastened to that which precedes and follows it. Starting from the contemplation of sensible objects, he propounds the question whether the goodness in all good things, although known by different names, such as justice in a man, strength or swiftness in a horse, and so on, comes from one source or divers. All varieties of excellence, by whatever name they may be called, are resolvable at last into a few simple elements—the good, the beautiful, the great, the useful. Hence he arrives at the conclusion that all things to which any of these qualities in various degrees and forms are attributed must derive them from something which is in itself always the same, which is in itself absolutely and unchangeably good and great. As also there is a difference in natures, some being better than others, as a horse is superior to a dog, and a man to a horse, there must be one nature so superior to all others that it cannot be exceeded by any; otherwise there would be no end to the series, which is absurd. This supreme nature must be the author of its own existence: it must be ‘per se’ and ‘ex se,’ ‘by means of itself’ and ‘from itself;’ it must be ‘per se,’ for if it was by means of another that other would be the greater, which is contrary to the supposition; if it were out of nothing, then it must be brought out of nothing either by itself or by another; not by itself, for then itself would be prior to itself, which is absurd, nor by another, for then it would not be the highest nature of all. In this way he proves the eternal self-existence of the divine nature. And by similar rigorously logical methods he goes on to prove the existence and nature of the Word, and the Holy Spirit.
In the ‘Proslogion,’ so called because it is in the form of an address to God, he endeavours to prove the existence of the Deity by a shorter method—by a single deductive argument instead of a lengthened inductive chain. He had long been anxious, he says, to discover such an argument, and vexed that it continually eluded him, until at last, to his great joy, it was suddenly revealed to him. The point of departure in this case was not the contemplation of the outer but of the inner world, not of sensible objects but of the mind of man. He could prove, he thought, the being of a God out of the very saying of the fool that there was no God. That very denial involved the idea of a Being than whom no greater can be conceived; but if no greater can be conceived, then He must exist, since existence is a necessary point of perfection. This is substantially the argument which was employed by Descartes six hundred years afterwards, although there is no evidence that Descartes had any knowledge of Anselm’s writings. Leibnitz, however, is inclined to suspect that he had, because he thinks that both in the style and matter of Descartes’ writings he detects a larger obligation to other authors than Descartes chose to acknowledge. It is to be noted that neither Anselm nor Descartes seeks to prove the existence of God in order to produce belief, but, starting from belief as a fact, their aim is to show that reason independently followed necessarily confirms the convictions of faith. It is remarkable that in the period between Anselm and Descartes no one seems to have adopted the same method. Anselm cannot properly be considered as the first or forerunner of the schoolmen; their method was not Platonic, but Aristotelian, a method far better adapted than Anselm’s to the ordinary mind of the middle ages. In boldness, indeed, and originality of thought, Anselm was too far ahead of the intellectual standard of his day to be thoroughly understood or appreciated. The aim of the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ is to prove the necessity of the incarnation as the only means whereby the debt of obedience due from man to God could be discharged, an adequate reparation made for his offences, and the immortality of body and soul recovered for which he was originally destined. Unlike the other two treatises, it is in the form of a dialogue, which renders it easier reading, although the reasoning is not less close and cogent. There is no apparent lack of finish in the work, although Anselm in his preface says that he should have made several additions if he could have secured some quiet leisure, but that it was begun in England amidst great distress of heart—’in magna cordis tribulatione’—and finished during his sojourn in the province of Capua.
If his philosophical treatises exhibit the profundity, the daring originality, and masterly grasp of his intellect, his meditations and prayers reveal the spiritual side of his nature, the deep humility of his faith, and the fervour of his love towards God, while his letters show him in his more human aspect—his tender sympathy and affection, his courtesy and respectfulness, combined with firmness in maintaining what he believed to be right, and in reproving what he believed to be wrong. Thus his writings completely verify the statement of William of Malmesbury that he was thoroughly spiritual and industriously learned—’penitus sanctus, anxie doctus.’
The first complete and satisfactory edition of Anselm’s works was that of Gabriel Gerberon (Paris, 1721), a monk of the congregation of Saint Maur. He says in his preface that hitherto most of the copies of his works were so mutilated or disfigured by corrections that they were scarcely intelligible. He framed a new text by a careful collation of as many manuscripts as he could collect, and an examination of existing printed editions. These were – two bearing no mark of date or place of issue; one printed at Nuremberg, 1491; two at Paris, 1544 and 1549; one at Venice, 1549; two at Cologne, 1573 and 1612; and one at Lyons, 1630. Gerberon arranged the works in his edition in three divisions:
1. The theological and philosophical, including the Monologion, the Proslogion, the attack of Gaunilo, a monk of Marmoutiers, on the same, and Anselm’s reply; the ‘De Fide Trinitatis,’ the ‘De Processione Spiritus Sancti contra Græcos,’ ‘Dialogus de Casu Diaboli,’ ‘Cur Deus Homo,’ ‘De Conceptu Virginali et Originali Peccato,’ ‘Dialogus de Veritate,’ ‘Liber de Voluntate,’ ‘Dialogus de Libero Arbitrio,’ ‘De Concordiâ Præscientiæ et Prædestinationis,’ ‘De Azymo et Fermentato,’ ‘De Sacramentorum Diversitate (Waleranni epistola),’ ‘Responsio ad Waleranni Querelas,’ ‘Offendiculum Sacerdotum,’ ‘De Nuptiis Consanguineorum,’ ‘Dialogus de Grammatico,’ ‘De Voluntate Dei.’
2. Devotional and hortatory: ‘Homilies and Exhortations,’ ‘Sermo de Passione Domini,’ ‘Exhortatio ad Contemptum Temporalium et Desiderium Æternorum,’ ‘Admonitio Morienti,’ ‘Duo Carmina de Contemptu Mundi,’ ‘Liber Meditationum et Orationum xxi.,’ ‘Meditatio super Miserere,’ ‘De Pace et Concordiâ,’ ‘Tractatus Asceticus,’ ‘Oratio dicenda ante Perceptionem Corporis et Sanguinis Domini,’ ‘Salutatio ad Jesum Christum ex anecdotis sacris de Levis,’ ‘Hymni et Psalterium de S. Mariâ,’ ‘Versus de Lanfranco,’ ‘De Verbis Anselmi,’ ‘Quædam Dicta utilia ex dictis S. Anselmi.’
3. Four books of letters.
The Abbé Migne’s edition, in two volumes, imperial octavo, is a reproduction of Gerberon’s edition, revised, including the footnotes of ‘Henschenius,’ and the ‘Vita’ and ‘Historia Novorum’ of Eadmer. The ‘various readings’ are in this edition placed at the bottom of each page instead of being put at the end of the works, as in Gerberon’s edition. The references in this article are to Migne’s edition.
William Richard Wood Stephens. “Anselm”. , 1885. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 April 2019. Web. 21 April 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/dictionary-of-national-biography-anselm/>
Dopo tre anni trascorsi tra la Borgogna e la Francia centrale, Anselmo si recò ad Avranches, in Normandia, ove venne a conoscenza dell'abbazia del Bec e della sua scuola, fondata nel 1034. Vi si recò per conoscere il priore, Lanfranco di Pavia, e restare presso di lui, come tanti altri chierici attratti dalla fama del suo sapere. I progressi nello studio furono tanto sorprendenti che lo stesso Lanfranco prese a prediligerlo ed addirittura a farsi coadiuvare da lui nell'insegnamento. In tale contesto Anselmo sentì rinascere in sé il desiderio di vestire l'abito monacale. Avrebbe però altri posti dove poter sfoggiare la sua sapienza senza dover competere con il maestro Lanfranco, ma non trovando valide alternative nel 1060 entrò nel seminario benedettino del Bec. Dopo soli tre anni di regolare osservanza meritò di succedere a Lanfranco nella carica di priore e di direttore della scuola, visto che quest'ultimo era stato destinato a governare l'abbazia di Saint'Etienne-de-Caen. Nonostante il moltiplicarsi delle responsabilità, Anselmo non trascurò di dedicarsi sempre più a Dio ed allo studio, preparandosi così a risolvere le più oscure questioni rimaste sino ad allora insolute. Non bastandogli le ore diurne per approfondire le Scritture ed i Padri della Chiesa, egli soleva trascorrere parte della notte in preghiera e correggendo manoscritti. Ci si può fare un'idea del suo insegnamento leggendo gli opuscoli ed i dialoghi da lui lasciati, alcuni dei quali sono veri e propri piccoli capolavori pedagogici e dogmatici.
Sant'Anselmo fu indubbiamente un grande speculativo, ma anche un grande direttore di anime. La fama del suo monastero si sparse ovunque ed attirò un'élite avida di scienza e di perfezione religiosa. Egli se ne occupava in prima persona con cura speciale. Molte delle sue 447 lettere mostrano l'arte che possedeva per guadagnare i cuori, adattandosi all'età di ciascuno e puntando sull'affabilità dei modi. Alla morte dell'abate Herluin, il 26 agosto 1078 i confratelli all'unanimità designarono Anselmo a succedergli. L'acutezza dell'intelligenza, la straordinaria dolcezza di carattere e la santità della vita gli meritarono un immenso ascendente tanto nel monastero quanto fuori. Intraprese relazioni con il maestro Lanfranco, nominato arcivescovo di Canterbury nel 1070, e collaborò all'organizzazione di alcuni monasteri inglesi: ciò gli permise inoltre di farsi conoscere dalla nobiltà del paese ed apprezzare dalla corte di Londra.
Nel 1076 Anselmo pubblicò il “Monologion” per soddisfare il desiderio dei monaci di meditare sull'essenza divina. Questa sua prima opera si rivelò un capolavoro per la densità e lucidità di pensiero circa l'esistenza di Dio, i suoi attributi e la Trinità. Ad essa seguì il “Proslogion”, più celebre della precedente per l'assai discusso argomento che escogitò a dimostrazione dell'esistenza dell'Essere supremo, in sostituzione dei lunghi e noiosi ragionamenti che aveva esposto nel “Monologion”. “Dio è l'essere di cui non si può pensare il maggiore; il concetto di tale essere è nella nostra mente, ma tale essere deve esistere anche nella realtà, fuori della nostra mente, perché, se esistesse solo nella mente, se ne potrebbe pensare un altro maggiore, uno, cioè, che esistesse non solo nella mente, ma anche nella realtà fuori di essa”.
La fama di Anselmo si diffuse ancora di più in tutta Europa. Era talmente venerato e amato in Inghilterra che il 6 marzo 1093, in seguito alle pressioni dei vescovi, dei signori e di tutto il popolo, fu eletto dal re Guglielmo II il Rosso arcivescovo di Canterbury, sede ormai vacante dalla morte di Lanfranco avvenuta nel 1089. La sua resistenza fu tenace ma inutile ed in riferimento alle difficoltà d'intesa tra il re e il primate affermò con i vescovi ed i nobili che l'accompagnavano: “Voi volete soggiogare insieme un toro non domo e una povera pecora. Il toro trascinerà la pecora tra i rovi e la farà a pezzi senza che sia servita a nulla. La vostra gioia si muterà in tristezza. Vedrete la chiesa di Canterbury ricadere nella vedovanza vivente il suo pastore. Nessuno di voi oserà resistere dopo di me e il re vi calpesterà a piacimento”.
La situazione della Chiesa inglese era effettivamente molto triste in quel periodo a causa della simonia, della decadenza dei costumi e della violazione della libertà religiosa da parte del re. Sant'Anselmo tentò di rimediare a tutto ciò, nella scia della riforma adottata da San Gregorio VII. Non destò quindi meraviglia se, nel 1095, scoppiò tra l'autorità secolare e quella religiosa un aspro conflitto circa il riconoscimento del pontefice Urbano II. Nulla convinse l'arcivescovo a recedere dal suo proposito e, dopo molte difficoltà, nel 1097 poté recarsi a Roma per consultare il papa stesso. Questi lo ricevette con grandi manifestazioni di stima e nel 1098 lo invitò al Concilio di Bari, convocato per ricondurre all'unità della Chiesa gli aderenti allo scisma consumatosi nel 1054 tra Oriente ed Occidente. Nelle questioni discusse Sant'Anselmo apparve come il teologo dei latini, confutando vittoriosamente le obiezioni degli avversari contro la processione dello Spirito Santo da parte di entrambe la altre persone della Santissima Trinità. Nel 1099 prese ancora parte al sinodo di Roma, in cui furono ribaditi i decreti contro la simonia, il concubinato dei chierici e la reinvestitura laica. Partì poi per Lione, ove fu però costretto a trattenersi poiché il re non lo autorizzava a tornare alla sua sede. In Italia aveva completato il suo grande trattato sui “Motivi dell'Incarnazione”, mentre a Lione ne ultimò un altro “Sulla nascita verginale di Cristo e il peccato originale”.
Nel 1110 Enrico Beauclerc successe al fratello Guglielmo sul trono inglese e, desiderando avere l'arcivescovo di Canterbury tra i suoi sostenitori, lo invitò a ritornare. Il nuovo sovrano non aveva però alcuna intenzione di rinunciare a spadroneggiare sulla Chiesa, motivo per cui nel 1103 Anselmo, inflessibile nella difesa dei suoi diritti, dovette una seconda volta andare in esilio a Roma. Dopo lunghe trattative con il nuovo papa Pasquale II, il sovrano rinunciò infine all'investitura dei feudi ecclesiastici, accontentandosi solo dell'omaggio. Nel 1106 il primate poté così ritornare nella sua sede e dedicare all'intenso lavoro pastorale gli ultimi anni della sua vita. Non potendo più camminare, si faceva quotidianamente trasportare in chiesa per assistere alla Messa. Sul letto di morte provò solo il rimpianto di non aver avuto tempo sufficiente per poter chiarire il problema dell'origine dell'anima. Sant'Anselmo morì il 21 aprile 1109 a Canterbury e fu sepolto nella celebre cattedrale. Il pontefice Alessandro III nel 1163 concesse all'arcivescovo Tommaso Becket, di procedere all'“elevazione” del corpo del suo predecessore, atto che a quel tempo corrispondeva a tutti gli effetti ad un'odierna canonizzazione. Sant'Anselmo d'Aosta fu infine annoverato tra i Dottori della Chiesa da Clemente XI l'8 febbraio 1720. Il Martyrologium ROmanum ed il calendario liturgico della Chiesa universale commemorano il santo nell'anniversario della nascita al cielo. Aosta, sua città natale, ha dedicato la strada principale del centro storico alla memoria del suo figlio più celebre.
Autore: Fabio Arduino
ANSELMO d'Aosta, santo
di Tullio Gregory; Franziskus S. Schmitt - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 3 (1961)
ANSELMO d'Aosta, santo. - Nacque ad Aosta nel 1033 o 1034 da Gundolfo, un nobile lombardo, e da Eremberga, una burgunda residente ad Aosta.
Il padre (che morì poi monaco), generoso fino alla prodigalità, riuscì poco a comprendere il suo eccezionale figliolo; assai più ebbe influenza sua madre, dama pia ed energica, che era imparentata col conte Ottone di Moriana, come ci conferma Umberto II di Aosta e Susa (cfr. Ep. 262).
A. ebbe anche una sorella Richeza, sposa di Burgundio, non meglio noto, da cui ebbe un figlio, chiamato anch'egli Anselmo, come lo zio. Questo Anselmo diventò in seguito abate di S. Saba a Roma, poi legato apostolico in Inghilterra, abate di Edmundsbury ed infine vescovo di Londra. Di altri parenti materni conosciamo i nomi, come i due zii Folcheraldo e Lamberto e i due cugini Folcheraldo e Pietro.
Non ancora quindicenne, A. pregò un abate ch'egli conosceva di accoglierlo nel suo monastero, ma ne ebbe un rifiuto, mancando il consenso del padre, e non fu accettato neppur quando, per ciò, s'ammalò gravemente. Mortagli poi la madre, si diede a vita mondana e dissipata, senza tuttavia abbandonarsi a gravi eccessi.
Quando, però, la tensione dei suoi rapporti col padre divenne intollerabile, A. lasciò la casa paterna e la patria recandosi, per il valico del Moncenisio, in Francia e in Borgogna, ove rimase tre anni.
Intorno al 1059, A. giunse all'abbazia di Bec, in Normandia, allo scopo di conoscerne il priore, Lanfranco di Pavia, la cui fama richiamava alunni da tutte le parti d'Europa. Anche A. si fece discepolo di Lanfranco e ne divenne molto presto coadiutore nell'insegnamento. Ripreso dal desiderio di farsi anch'egli monaco, ebbe qualche esitazione circa il monastero da scegliere, poi, seguendo il consiglio dell'arcivescovo Maurilio di Rouen, entrò proprio a Bec, ove ben presto fu un magnifico esempio per quei religiosi. Dopo soli tre anni, quando Lanfranco divenne abate di Santo Stefano di Caen, A. gli subentrò nella carica di priore e nel 1078, morto l'abate di Bec (un ex cavaliere Herluin, uomo di grande semplicità, ma anche di estrema intelligenza, che aveva fondato Bec con il suo danaro), A. fu eletto abate all'unanimità.
Nell'adempimento dei doveri della sua carica egli disponeva di qualità eccezionali: era un maestro nella conoscenza e nel trattamento delle anime. Non era, forse, una prova delle sue qualità pedagogiche il fatto che il giovane priore sapesse trasformare in amici anche quelli dei suoi confratelli che prima avevano sentito invidia di lui? Tra costoro c'era, soprattutto, un tale Osberno, un giovane monaco estremamente dotato, ma di carattere un po' difficile. A. nei suoi riguardi, in un primo tempo, dimostrò grande indulgenza, per diventare gradualmente più severo, fino a che il giovane non si rese conto, delle nobili intenzioni del suo maestro e gli si sottomise spontaneamente. Alla morte inattesa di Osberno, A. fu colto da profondo dolore, dedicandogli per un anno la Messa. Nel trattamento dei monaci, egli non era eccessivamente severo; anzi, pur di conservare un'atmosfera amorevole, mise alquanto da parte la severità della regola. Dai consigli da lui elargiti a un abate, che, nonostante le frustate, non riusciva a mantenere la disciplina tra allievi, ci risulta che egli fu un pedagogo nel senso moderno della parola.
A. preferiva istruire i giovani già maturi, perché riteneva che quella fosse l'età più indicata per la formazione dei caratteri. L'insegnamento delle materie elementari non gli si addiceva troppo. Amava, invece, discutere con i suoi monaci di problemi filosofici e teologici, riuscendo a dare impostazioni inconsuete a tali problemi e a trovare soluzioni originalissime. Profondamente ancorato alla fede, non temeva - come dice il suo biografo Eadmero - di usare la ragione anche nell'applicazione ai misteri della fede. Da queste discussioni e, soprattutto, dai suoi solitari studi notturni nacquero i suoi scritti, alla cui stesura lo indusse l'affettuosa insistenza dei suoi discepoli e di altri, tra cui l'arcivescovo Ugo di Lione. Già la sua prima opera, il Monologion ,manifestò l'altezza della sua mente. Poco dopo nacque il celebre Proslogion, che doveva la sua origine ad una intuizione filosofica. Appartengono al periodo di Bec anche i quattro dialoghi De grammatico, De veritate, De libertate arbitrii e De casu diaboli.
L'abilità di A. e la sua profonda pietà contribuirono ad attrarre numerosi giovani a Bec. Egli non si stancava di affermare oralmente e per iscritto la superiorità della vita monastica rispetto a quella secolare. Era suo principio non insistere perché proprio Bec fosse scelto come luogo della conversatio,ma poté pur dire: "Quasi tutti voi siete venuti a Bec per causa mia". Quanto i suoi monaci si sentissero legati a lui lo prova la tenacia con cui gli rifiutarono il permesso di lasciarli.
Il fascino della sua personalità si riflette nelle sue lettere, testimonianza di uno spirito delicato e affettuoso. L'attrazione che sapeva esercitare anche su persone di condizione non religiosa si rivelò nel comportamento del re Guglielmo il Conquistatore. Il re era normalmente un individuo cupo, ma alla presenza di A. si trasformava completamente, diventando mite e dolce. Sul letto di morte lo fece chiamare al suo capezzale, ma A., ammalato, non potè presentarsi in tempo.
Diventato abate, A. affidò immediatamente ad altri monaci i compiti di carattere amministrativo - che pure avrebbe saputo assolvere egregiamente -, per potersi dedicare completamente alla cura delle anime e alla formazione spirituale delle persone affidategli. Gli interessi della sua abbazia lo obbligarono, tuttavia, a compiere vari viaggi: alcuni sul continente, quando ancora era priore, al posto dell'abate ormai diventato vecchio, altri in Inghilterra, dove Bec aveva possedimenti, quando egli era già abate. Fu perciò in Inghilterra poco dopo tempo la sua elezione ad abate e vi rivide il suo venerato maestro Lanfranco, diventato nel 1070 arcivescovo di Canterbury. In Inghilterra Anselmo conobbe anche il giovane Eadmero, suo futuro biografo. Fu un viaggio trionfale, poiché la sua fama di geniale maestro era giunta nell'isola. Qui, come sul continente, dovunque giungesse, gli abati lo invitarono a parlare nel capitolo dinanzi ai loro monaci: di questi discorsi ci è giunto in particolare quello, celebre, tenuto a Cluny sulla beatitudine celeste. Originale ora, soprattutto, il suo metodo d'insegnamento: egli sapeva adattarsi a tutti gli ascoltatori, sia monaci, sia chierici, sia laici, destandone l'attenzione con esempi tratti dalla vita. In tal modo A. trascorse trentatré anni tra i suoi monaci, un periodo ch'egli stesso definì felicissimo e fecondo.
Ma un improvviso mutamento strappò A. a questa felice attività. Nel 1089 Lanfranco era morto in Inghilterra: il dispotico Guglielmo II Rufo, che, nel 1087, era succeduto a suo padre, perseguiva una politica ecclesiastica arbitraria ed egoistica, specialmente dopo la morte di Lanfranco, la cui autorità aveva rispettato. Così, per esempio, lasciò vacante la cattedra di Canterbury e altri benefici per incamerarne le entrate relative. Per non alimentare le dicerie circa una eventuale sua candidatura come successore di Lanfranco, l'abate di Bec rifiutò a lungo di accettare un invito del conte Ugo di Chester, che avrebbe voluto ottenere un insediamento di monaci al posto dei canonici. Dovette infine acconsentire, sia perché il conte era stato colpito da una grave malattia, sia perché gli interessi dell'abbazia richiedevano la sua presenza in Inghilterra. Vi giunse il 7 dic. 1092. Durante la riunione natalizia della corte, i grandi del regno costrinsero il re a concedere loro il permesso di far recitare preghiere in tutte le chiese del Regno, per ottenere un nuovo pastore. Il re, tuttavia, considerava inutili simili preghiere, non avendo egli alcuna intenzione di nominare arcivescovo A. o chiunque altro. Ma ecco che, improvvisamente, una grave malattia colpì il sovrano. Tutti ritennero imminente la sua morte; i principi ed i vescovi accorsero per ammonirlo a pensare alla salute dell'anima. Il re volle allora confessarsi ad A., si pentì sinceramente ed emanò un editto d'amnistia. Era ormai anche disposto a far occupare il seggio di Canterbury e la sua scelta cadde proprio su A., il quale rifiutò ostinatamente di accettare la nomina. Quando si vide che a nulla servivano tutti gli incitamenti da parte del re e dei vescovi, gli fu posta tra le mani a forza la bacchetta con cui il re gli aveva conferito l'investitura e venne trascinato alla chiesa più vicina per la celebrazione del rito, senza che nessuno desse ascolto alle sue continue proteste. (Tale scena è stata riferita dettagliatamente non solo da Eadmero, ma dallo stesso Anselmo). A., più tardi, dichiarò nullo l'accaduto, spiegando che quelli che avevano così agito con lui volevano accoppiare ad un solo aratro un agnello e un toro indomito. Né egli poteva in alcun modo essere utile alla Chiesa d'Inghilterra. Tutto ciò ebbe luogo il 4 marzo 1093. Parecchio tempo passò fino all'accettazione definitiva della nomina. Il re, pentitosi del proprio pentimento, ritirò il decreto d'amnistia e infierì peggio di prima, ma non revocò la nomina di Anselmo. Questi, da parte sua, ne subordinò l'accettazione a varie condizioni: anzitutto, il re avrebbe dovuto restituire i beni tolti all'arcivescovado, accettare lo stesso A. come consigliere in tutti i problemi di carattere spirituale e, infine, riconoscere Urbano II come papa legittimo. Il re acconsentì a tutte queste condizioni. Arrivarono intanto i documenti del duca di Normandia e dell'arcivescovo di Rouen, nei quali costoro accettavano le dimissioni di A. da abate, nonché il consenso della maggior parte dei monaci di Bec. Quindi Rufo gli conferì in feudo l'arcivescovado. Il 25 settembre, tra il giubilo di tutti, A. venne insediato a Canterbury ed il 4 dicembre ebbe luogo la sua consacrazione a vescovo da parte di Tommaso, arcivescovo di York.
La riluttanza di A. ad assumere la dignità arcivescovile con i benefici feudali, che le erano annessi, va compresa ed inquadrata nella difficile situazione della Chiesa d'Inghilterra dopo la conquista normanna.
Guglielmo il Conquistatore infatti ed i suoi successori avevano esteso ai territori da loro occupati la politica ecclesiastica, già attuata nei domini aviti, per cui vescovi, abati, ed ecclesiastici in genere, venivano nominati dal signore ed erano tenuti ad obbedire indipendentemente da ogni decisione dei loro superiori ecclesiastici e persino della Curia romana.
Contro questa politica, perseguita con decisione e costanza, poco o nulla aveva potuto l'opera di riforma della Chiesa sia in Normandia sia in Inghilterra. E di ciò s'era reso perfettamente consapevole A. durante la sua attività di abate a Bec. Da parte sua A., per la sua formazione spirituale e culturale, aveva risolutamente abbracciato gli ideali della "libertas ecclesiae" dal potere laico.
Non è dunque strano che per A. abbia avuto inizio un lungo calvario. Il primo conflitto con il re si ebbe alla corte di Natale, nella quale fu decisa la guerra contro la Normandia: si suggerì allora all'arcivescovo di offrire 500 sterline d'argento come contributo alla guerra. Il re, sobillato dai suoi consiglieri, rifiutò tale somma, giudicandola troppo esigua, e chiese il doppio. A., a sua volta, respinse tale richiesta e regalò ai poveri il denaro rifiutato. In febbraio egli fu convocato a Hastings per benedire gli eserciti in partenza per la Normandia. Poiché, a causa dei venti contrari, la partenza fu rimandata di un mese, egli si servì di questo tempo per fare al sovrano proposte per una riforma dei costumi, suggerendo la convocazione di un concilio di vescovi ed esigendo che il re insediasse abati nelle abbazie vacanti, per eliminare il disordine che vi regnava. Il re, senza il cui consenso non era possibile né un concilio, né una riforma, rifiutò tutto. Il vescovo fu congedato anzi tempo e cadde in disgrazia, essendosi egli nuovamente rifiutato di dare il denaro richiesto. Guglielmo Rufo ritornò poi in Inghilterra alla fine dell'anno senza aver concluso nulla. In quell'anno (1094), A. terminò l'Epistola de incarnatione Verbi, dedicandola a Urbano II.
Nel febbraio dell'anno successivo (1095) A. informò il sovrano che intendeva recarsi a, Roma, dal papa, per ottenere il pallio. Il re gli negò il consenso al viaggio, non avendo egli ancora riconosciuto Urbano II come papa. A. gli ricordò la promessa fattagli e chiese di poter convocare un concilio di vescovi, abati, e principi, che avrebbero dovuto stabilire se egli fosse in condizione di conciliare la sua ubbidienza verso la Santa Sede con la fedeltà al re. Il re accettò la proposta: si ebbe così il celebre concilio nazionale di Rockingham, dall'11 al 14 marzo.
Lo svolgimento del concilio ci è stato riferito dettagliatamente da Eadmero, testimone oculare: l'arcivescovo espose la questione agli intervenuti, vescovi, principi e popolo, chiedendo il consiglio dei vescovi. Questi gli suggerirono di lasciare esclusivamente al re la decisione, solo in tal caso lo avrebbero appoggiato, dichiarandosi, però, disposti a riferire il discorso di A. al sovrano. Questi differì la seduta definitiva alla giornata seguente, ma anche in quella giornata i vescovi dettero lo stesso consiglio. A. dichiarò loro intanto che egli si sarebbe attenuto al consiglio di Dio, il quale aveva detto non a principi laici, bensì a San Pietro e ai suoi successori: "Tu es Petrus". Poi ripeté il detto di Gesù: "Date a Cesare quel che è di Cesare". Ne nacque un'enorme confusione e un grande tumulto. I vescovi si rifiutarono di riferire simili parole al re; A., allora, si recò da lui in persona. Il sovrano, adiratissimo, si consigliò con i Grandi del Regno e, ancora una volta, gli fece dire che obbedisse a lui e che non seguisse più gli ordini di Urbano. Ma A. rifiutò energicamente; e dette una risposta che confuse i suoi oppositori, facendo capire che un arcivescovo di Canterbury poteva essere giudicato soltanto dal pontefice. Il popolo, che fino a quel momento era stato intimorito, ora mostrò apertamente la propria simpatia per l'arcivescovo. Il giorno successivo, il portavoce dei vescovi, l'ambizioso Guglielmo di Durham, propose di usare la violenza, dato che non esisteva alcun appiglio legale contro l'arcivescovo; ma gli si opposero i principi laici. Il re, irritato con i vescovi a causa degli insuccessi avuti, li invitò a rifiutarsi di obbedire ad A. e di considerarlo come fratello; egli stesso gli avrebbe negato ogni sicurezza e non l'avrebbe più riconosciuto come padre spirituale. I principi secolari presero allora partito per A., dichiarando che essi avrebbero continuato a considerarlo come loro padre spirituale e arcivescovo. Tale atteggiamento riempì di mortificazione i vescovi. A., convinto che un'attività proficua in quelle condizioni fosse impossibile, chiese il salvacondotto fino a un porto per poter lasciare il paese. Il re fu estremamente confuso da tale richiesta, non desiderando assumersi l'impopolarità che un simile esilio gli avrebbe procurato. Si consigliò, quindi, con i suoi principi secolari, che gli suggerirono di proporre una tregua fino all'ottavo giorno dopo Pentecoste. A. conciliante accettò, pur sicuro che la misura non avrebbe portato ad una soluzione del problema.
Senza dubbio, Rockingham rappresenta una vittoria morale di Anselmo. Roberto di Melun disse al re: "Mentre noi trascorriamo le giornate a tessere piani, l'arcivescovo dorme, e poi annienta le nostre trame con una sola parola".
Ben presto il re tentò una nuova manovra contro Anselmo. Di nascosto mandò a Roma due chierici di corte, Gerardo (futuro arcivescovo di York) e Guglielmo Warelwast, perché accertassero chi fosse il papa legittimo e gli chiedessero il pallio, nell'intento di espellere A. dall'Inghilterra e conferire l'arcivescovado e il pallio ad un altro. Effettivamente, poco prima di Pentecoste, si presentò in Inghilterra il cardinale-vescovo di Albano, Gualtiero, insieme con i due chierici, e si recò a visitare il re, trascurando l'arcivescovo. Guglielmo Rufo, convinto che il legato del pontefice lo avrebbe contentato in tutto, riconobbe Urbano ufficialmente come papa. Quando, però, pretese da Gualtiero la deposizione di A., il legato gli fece capire che ciò sarebbe stato impossibile. Alla fine della tregua, A. fu convocato a corte, a Windsor. Un ulteriore tentativo dei vescovi di acquistare il favore del re mediante denaro fallì completamente: A. pretese un'assoluta libertà d'azione come vescovo, o un salvacondotto per poter visitare il papa. Dietro consiglio dei principi, il re accolse benevolmente A., che rifiutò, però, di accettare il pallio dalle mani del sovrano. Venne allora deciso che lo avrebbe accettato dall'altare di San Pietro a Canterbury e che se lo sarebbe imposto da solo, come avvenne in forma solennissima il 6 giugno 1095.
Seguì un periodo più tranquillo. Quando Guglielmo Rufo prese la Normandia in amministrazione da suo fratello Roberto, partito come crociato, e dovette pagare l'ingente somma di 10.000 marchi, A. contribuì anch'egli per una parte. All'inizio del 1097, il re trovò un nuovo pretesto per procedere contro Anselmo. Dopo il ritorno dalla campagna contro il Galles, lo accusò per iscritto di avere male equipaggiato i soldati da lui forniti e minacciò di convocarlo davanti ad un tribunale. A. non degnò di una risposta il re, ma gli chiese di nuovo di permettergli di fare un viaggio a Roma, per sbrigare alcuni affari urgenti. Dopo lunghe trattative, il re, a Winchester, decise che A. sarebbe potuto partire, senza, tuttavia, portare nulla con sé e con l'obbligo di essere al porto entro dieci giorni. L'arcivescovo diede al re la sua benedizione e si congedò (15 ott. 1097); ma, prima della partenza, dové subire una perquisizione dei bagagli, ordinata dal re alla ricerca di denari. Non appena A. ebbe lasciato il territorio inglese, Rufo riprese possesso dell'arcivescovado e dichiarò nulle le disposizioni di Anselmo.
Durante il viaggio a Roma, A. si fermò a lungo presso il suo amico, l'arcivescovo Ugo di Lione, il quale, d'ora in poi, sarà il suo principale consigliere. I seguaci, infatti, dell'antipapa avevano reso pericoloso il proseguimento del viaggio. In una lettera A. espose la situazione ad Urbano e lo pregò di dargli un consiglio. Urbano rispose invitandolo a venire subito a Roma, ove fu accolto con tutti gli onori e ospitato per dieci giorni nel Palazzo Lateranense. Il papa scrisse a Guglielmo e lo sollecitò a restituire l'arcivescovado ad Anselmo. Questi, intanto, aveva accettato l'invito di un ex monaco di Bec, l'abate Giovanni di Telese, a trascorrere i caldi mesi estivi a Sclavia, nella sua residenza estiva. Qui, nella solitudine dei monti, A. portò a termine la sua opera più importante (che egli aveva già iniziato in Inghilterra), il Cur deus homo. Roberto, duca di Puglia, che stava assediando Capua, invitò il celebre arcivescovo e lo avrebbe voluto trattenere sempre presso di sé. Anche i Saraceni rimasero profondamente colpiti dalla personalità di Anselmo. Pessime notizie venivano, intanto, dall'Inghilterra. Quando anche il papa giunse a Capua, A. lo pregò di voler accettare le sue dimissioni: era convinto di non poter essere utile sotto un re come Guglielmo Rufo. Urbano non volle, però, acconsentire ed invitò, invece, A. a partecipare al concilio di Bari, indetto per il 1º ott. 1098, ove sarebbe stata discussa anche la sua questione.
A Bari l'arcivescovo di Canterbury assunse inaspettatamente un ruolo assai importante. Si discuteva della processione dello Spirito Santo dal Figlio, processione che veniva negata dai delegati greci. Urbano, il quale aveva già ricavato i suoi argomenti da un'opera di A., il De incarnatione Verbi, improvvisamente invitò l'arcivescovo a volergli venire in aiuto. A., il giorno successivo, parlò su questo tema in modo da stupire tutti i presenti. Quando il discorso cadde sul re d'Inghilterra, tutti i vescovi ne condannarono il comportamento e ne richiesero la scomunica, specialmente in considerazione del fatto che il re già in precedenza si era dimostrato insensibile agli ammonimenti del pontefice. Allora A. intervenne e chiese che si soprassedesse per la decisione. Dopo il concilio, A. accompagnò il papa a Roma, ove dopo qualche tempo apparve Guglielmo Warelwast, per sostenere la causa del suo sovrano. Il pontefice minacciò allora di scomunicare il re durante il sinodo di Pasqua, a meno che non avesse ridato ad A. l'arcivescovado. Ma il re seppe procurarsi amici a Roma, anche mediante la corruzione, e ottenne un rinvio fino alla festa di San Michele (29 settembre). A., quindi, giudicò inutile un ulteriore soggiorno a Roma e volle partire per Lione, ma Urbano lo trattenne fino al sinodo di Pasqua (iniziato il 24 aprile 1099). Durante quel sinodo fu rinnovata la scomunica contro tutti coloro che avessero concesso o ricevuto l'investitura laica di chiese, o consacrato gli investiti, nonché contro tutti coloro che diventassero feudatari di laici per uffici ecclesiastici. La partecipazione di A. a questo sinodo avrà conseguenze gravissime. Al termine del sinodo, A. lasciò Roma e si recò a Lione, ove aiutò l'arcivescovo nelle sue funzioni pastorali e ottenne, come dappertutto, l'amore del popolo. Vi scrisse anche l'opera annunziata nel Cur deus homo, il De conceptu virginali et de originali peccato e la Meditatio redemptionis humanae.
Urbano morì in luglio, prima che gli fosse giunta una risposta del re d'Inghilterra. Questi si sentì trionfante e decise di non preoccuparsi affatto del nuovo pontefice. Il suo trionfo non fu, però, di lunga durata: il 2 agosto dell'amo successivo (1100), una freccia lo colpì a morte durante una partita di caccia.
Ora A. fu richiamato in Inghilterra dai suoi monaci, nonché dal nuovo re Enrico I, e vi giunse il 23 settembre, accolto dal giubilo del paese. Il re, in un primo tempo, era animato dalle migliori intenzioni: si scusò con lui di non aver potuto attendere per l'incoronazione fino al suo arrivo (era, infatti, compito dell'arcivescovo di Canterbury incoronare il re d'Inghilterra). Quando, tuttavia, secondo la consuetudine, si volle che A. accettasse l'arcivescovado dalle mani del re e gli prestasse il giuramento di vassallaggio, egli si rifiutò di farlo tra lo stupore di tutti, richiamandosi al divieto del sinodo romano al quale aveva partecipato. Lasciò al re l'altemativa di rinunciare all'investitura o di costringerlo ad abbandonare il paese: disse, infatti, che non gli sarebbe stato permesso avere rapporti con gli scomunícati, e che, dati i suoi legami con la corte, non sarebbe stato possibile evitare ogni relazione con costoro. Il re venne così a trovarsi nella più grande perplessità: da una parte, riteneva di non poter rinunciare all'investitura e al giuramento di vassallaggio; dall'altra, aveva bisogno dell'influenza di A. per consolidare il proprio potere, minacciato dal duca di Normandia, reduce ormai dalla crociata. Fu così deciso di rinviare la decisione fino a Pasqua, perché ambo le parti potessero mandare ambasciatori al papa Pasquale II, per ottenere la dispensa dal divieto d'investitura. A., che, nell'attesa, s'era insediato nel proprio arcivescovado, ebbe una parte di rilievo nei preliminari delle nozze del re con Matilde, figlia del re di Scozia, Malcom III: s'era, infatti, dovuto accertare in un concilio che non era monaca, come era sembrato. Perciò, anche dopo le nozze, celebrate il 10 nov. 1100, la regina, grata ad A., rimase con lui in rispettosissima corrispondenza. Poi, non essendo tornati da Roma a tempo i messaggeri, fu necessario procrastinare fino a dopo Pentecoste il proseguimento delle trattative. Prima di quel termine, improvvisamente, Roberto di Normandia apparve in Inghilterra con un esercito per impadronirsi della corona. Una gran parte dei principi era disposta a schierarsi dalla sua parte; si dovette solo alla influenza di A. se Enrico non perdette il trono e Roberto lasciò l'Inghilterra a suo fratello minore senza combattere. I legati intanto erano tornati da Roma, senza aver nulla ottenuto: il nuovo pontefice insisteva nel divieto dell'investitura da parte dei laici. Il re era adirato con A. per essersi questi di nuovo rifiutato di rendergli l'omaggio; ma, dopo qualche tempo, volle rappacificarsi con l'arcivescovo e si mise d'accordo con lui per inviare una nuova, più importante missione presso il pontefice. Per A. partirono Baldovino di Bec e Alessandro di Canterbury, per il re tre vescovi, capeggiati dall'arcivescovo Gerardo di York, uomo di grande levatura mentale, ma privo di carattere, il quale voleva contemporaneamente ottenere il pallio. Ma anche questa missione fallì, perché i legati ritornarono di nuovo con una risposta negativa. Ciononostante, Enrico pretese che A. non rinunciasse ulteriormente alle vecchie consuetudini. Questi accennò all'epistola papale, il cui contenuto il re non aveva ancora divulgato. Ed ecco che avvenne qualcosa di strano: i vescovi, che erano tornati da Roma, dichiararono che il papa avrebbe loro detto in udienza segreta di voler concedere ad Enrico il diritto d'investitura, a condizione, tuttavia, che l'investitura stessa fosse conferita soltanto ad uomini degni. Precisarono che il tenore delle lettere ufficiali era diverso, perché gli altri principi non vi trovassero un appiglio per pretendere anch'essi un simile privilegio; ma Baldovino negò energicamente questa affermazione dei vescovi, causando una grande perplessità. Alla fine, però, si credette più al giuramento dei tre vescovi che non alle affermazioni dei monaci e alle lettere sigillate del pontefice; A. fu invitato a pronunciare il giuramento d'omaggio e a consacrare i vescovi designati. Egli volle, però, ricevere prima istruzioni chiare da Roma; rifiutò, quindi, di consacrare i vescovi e proibì anche che altri li consacrasse, ma, nel frattempo, non volle allontanarli dalla sua comunione. Nell'agoato 1102, a Londra fu celebrato un concilio di tutti i vescovi e di tutti gli abati, durante il quale vari abati furono deposti per simonia o per altri reati; il concilio inoltre emanò una serie di canoni per sacerdoti e laici e minacciò di gravi sanzioni i colpevoli di sodomia. Continuando A. a rifiutarsi di procedere alla consacrazione dei vescovi, l'incarico ne fu dato a Gerardo di York; la consacrazione, tuttavia, non ebbe luogo perché i nominati, improvvisamente, si ritirarono pentiti. Nella quaresima del 1103 il re riprese ad angustiare A.: questi si riferì alle lettere del pontefice, che non erano ancora state aperte e che Enrico si rifiutò di aprire. Il re allora suggerì ad A. di recarsi in persona a Roma, per ottenere la dispensa desiderata. Poiché anche i grandi lo spingevano a tale viaggio, il 27 aprile A. abbandonò senz'altro l'Inghilterra. Nel timore di doversi incontrare con gli scomunicati, qualora la lettera del pontefice contenesse una scomunica, egli nonvolle aprirla se nona Bec. La lettera, effettivamente, colpiva di scomunica chiunque si fosse macchiato di peccati collegati alla investitura da parte dei laici; da essa risultava chiaro il mendacio dei tre vescovi.
Temendo il caldo estivo di Roma, A. rimase a Bec fino alla metà di agosto. Quando, finalmente, giunse a Roma, era stato preceduto da Guglielmo, Warelwast, il quale, tuttavia, nulla d'essenziale aveva ottenuto. Nella discussione decisiva sulla questione il pontefice insisté nel proprio rifiuto. Al ritorno da Roma, A. si fermò a Lione per celebrarvi il Natale; lì lo raggiunse Guglielmo, che da parte del re gli comunicò la seguente ambasciata: "Se in tutte le cose tu agirai come i tuoi predecessori hanno agito con i miei predecessori, il tuo ritorno mi è il benvenuto". A. interpretò tale frase nel senso che, in caso diverso, il suo ritorno non sarebbe stato gradito, e si fermò a Lione, dove rimase per un anno e quattro mesi e dove scrisse il De processione spiritus sancti.
Durante il concilio lateranense del marzo 1105 Pasquale scomunicò i vescovi investiti dal re. Il sovrano era eccettuato dalla scomunica, perché il pontefice si aspettava ancora un messaggio da lui. Quando A. si rese conto che non avrebbe potuto ottenere un aiuto efficace da Roma, partì per la Normandia, dove il re soggiornava, per scomunicarlo a sua volta. Durante il viaggio visitò la sorella di Enrico, la contessa Adala di Blois, per assisterla in una grave malattia. Questa, però, quando venne a sapere dell'imminente scomunica di suo fratello, intervenne, riuscendo ad ottenere un incontro tra il re e l'arcivescovo a l'Aigle (2 luglio 1105). E poiché il re voleva evitare le conseguenze della scomunica, si giunse ad un accordo: fu così sospeso il sequestro delle entrare di Canterbury. Tuttavia A. non volle ritornare in Inghilterra, perché il re continuava ad avere rapporti con i vescovi da lui investiti. Nel frattempo proseguivano gli sforzi per ottenere una soluzione definitiva delle questioni ancora in sospeso col pontefice. Soltanto dopo lunghi rinvii, voluti dal re e lamentati da A., Guglielmo Warelwast e Baldovino furono infine in grado di iniziare la loro missione. Intanto nuove gravi angherie finanziarie furono imposte all'Inghilterra a causa di una nuova campagna nella Normandia. Tra l'altro il re inflisse punizioni pecuniarie ai sacerdoti incontinenti, ma anche a quelli innocenti, tanto che l'arcivescovo dovette protestare contro questa ingerenza del re nei diritti della Chiesa. Ora perfino i vescovi si rivolsero al loro primate, supplicandolo di voler rientrare in Inghilterra, per far cessare questi abusi. Tornarono, intanto, i legati con una missiva papale del 23 marzo 1106, con la quale fu concesso ad A., fra l'altro, di assolvere dalla censura tutti coloro che fossero stati investiti e consacrati da laici e avessero fatto il giuramento di vassallaggio. A. stesso fu autorizzato, a richiesta del re, a riprendere le relazioni con i tre vescovi che avevano calunniato il pontefice. Gli fu anche ingiunto di assolvere il re e la regina dai loro peccati, per cui Enrico fece pregare l'arcivescovo di ritornare in Inghilterra; ma bisognò attendere poiché A. era impedito da varie malattie. Il re allora visitò il 15 agosto A. a Bec, e tra i due fu raggiunta una riconciliazione; il re restituì tutte le chiese, tutte le entrate confiscate e indennizzò i sacerdoti puniti.
A. poté allora tornare in Inghilterra, do ve ebbe accoglienze trionfali. Il 1 ag. 1107 ebbe luogo una riunione di vescovi e di principi, nel corso della quale furono pubblicamente regolati tutti gli affari ecclesiastici. Il re annunciò che in avvenire nessun vescovo o abate sarebbe stato investito con l'anello e il pastorale da lui o da un altro laico. A., invece, concesse che non sarebbe stata negata la consacrazione a nessuno che avesse pronunciato il giuramento di vassallaggio al re. Questa soluzione di compromesso pose termine alla lunga lotta per l'investitura in Inghilterra. Il re occupò allora tutte le sedi vescovili e le abbazie vacanti, ed A. consacrò solennemente a Canterbury tutti i vescovi di nuova nomina. Purtroppo i successi che A. aveva acquisito con tanta tenacia e tanto spirito di sacrificio nel campo della politica ecclesiastica non furono duraturi. Occorse il sangue del successore di A., del martire san Tommaso Becket, per assicurare la "libertas ecclesiae" in Inghilterra. Il contegno coraggioso di Anselmo infuse, tuttavia, uno spirito nuovo d'indipendenza di fronte al dispotismo regio nel clero servile e anche nel popolo.
A. impiegò gli ultimi anni della sua vita per migliorare le condizioni della Chiesa. Né bisogna dimenticare gli sforzi da lui compiuti per sollevare il livello morale dell'Irlanda e dei paesi dell'estremo nord, che si trovavano sotto la sua giurisdizione ecclesiastica. Un grande dolore gli arrecò la lotta con York, per la primazia in Inghilterra. Il nuovo arcivescovo di York - del resto, ammiratore personale di A. - si vide ostacolato dal suo clero a pronunciare il consueto giuramento di sottomissione a Canterbury. A., dal canto suo, era invece deciso a non cedere ad alcun costo un diritto della sua chiesa. La spiacevole controversia poté essere risolta a favore di Canterbury soltanto dopo la morte di Anselmo. Durante questi anni A. volle ancora portare a termine la sua opera De Concordia praescientiae et praedestinationis et gratiae Dei cum libero arbitrio. La morte, che lo colse il mercoledì santo 21 aprile del 1109, gli impedì di scrivere un trattato sull'origine dell'anima. Ebbe sepoltura accanto al maestro e predecessore Lanfranco, nella cattedrale.
Durante le lotte religiose ai tempi di Enrico VIII, le ossa del santo furono esumate insieme con altre, tanto che non si conosce attualmente il luogo dell'inumazione di Anselmo.
A. ebbe fama di santo quando era ancora in vita. La sua canonizzazione fu iniziata da Tommaso Becket e compiuta da Alessandro III nell'anno 1163. Nel 1720 Clemente XI lo dichiarò dottore della Chiesa. Senza dubbio Anselmo è una delle personalità spiritualmente più significative e più nobili del Medioevo, vivo ancora nelle sue opere.
Le opere di Anselmo sono conservate in un'eccellente tradizione manoscritta, mentre acritiche, finora, erano le edizioni a stampa.
La "editio princeps", uscita a Norimberga nel 1491 per i tipi di Hochfeder, era assai manchevole. Anche l'edizione dei frati maurini a cura di G. Gerberon, Parigi 1675 (ristampa presso Migne, Patrologia Latina, t. 158 e 159), l'edizione cioè che fino a ieri era considerata fondamentale, mostra gravi lacune. Essa è stata ora sostituita dalla edizione di F. S. Schmitt (S. Anselmi Opera Omnia, Edinburgi 1946 ss.), di cui finora sono usciti 5 volumi con il testo completo delle opere e delle lettere e con gli Indici. Sono autentiche le opere e lettere contenute in questi volumi (e soltanto esse). Sono stati eliminati tutti gli opuscoli di carattere ascetico, ad eccezione di 19 preghiere e 3 meditazioni. Le Lettere, che finora erano raccolte in 4 volumi, ora sono comprese soltanto in 2 (lettere del periodo di Bec e di Canterbury) e hanno una numerazione continua. Le opere e le lettere hanno un ordine cronologico, ad eccezione delle preghiere, le quali seguono un ordine a soggetto, secondo l'antichissima tradizione stabilita dallo stesso Anselmo.
Si danno ora, in ordine cronologico, le indicazioni fondamentali relative alle opere di A. ed al loro contenuto:
1) Il Monologion, che in precedenza aveva avuto il titolo Exemplum meditandi de ratione fidei, è una teodicea concentrata in 80 brevi capitoli. Vi si dimostra, anzitutto, l'esistenza di un sommo bene, dedotta dai numerosi beni di questa terra. Similmente si deduce che deve esistere un solo Essere Altissimo e - data l'esistenza di vari gradi di perfezione - perfettissimo. Questo Essere altissimo e perfettissimo è soltanto per sé stesso e da sé stesso - tutte le altre cose esistenti sono state create da lui dal nulla; seguono poi gli attributi di questo Essere Sommo. L'autore passa successivamente all'esame del Verbo, attraverso il quale Dio esprime sé stesso ed in cui tutto il resto è Vita e Verità. Il Verbo procede da chi lo ha generato: tale rapporto tra Padre e Figlio è trattato dettagliatamente. Il reciproco Amore tra Padre e Figlio può essere chiamato lo Spirito del Padre e del Figlio. Quindi l'autore discute i rapporti tra questi Tre, che possono essere designati come persone, oppure, secondo l'uso greco, come sostanze. Infine la Trinità è considerata come oggetto della conoscenza, dell'amore e della beatitudine, della speranza e della fede della creatura ragionante. Soltanto nell'ultimo capitolo è detto che tale Essere Sommo, Uno e Trino è chiamato Dio.
Per comprendere A. è di somma importanza poter seguire il metodo con cui egli si avvicina ai problemi del Monologion.L'autore si propone di arrivare per mezzo della sola ragione (sola ratione)a tutto ciò che riteniamo necessario di Dio e dei suoi attributi. Egli non tiene conto, intenzionalmente, dell'autorità della Sacra Scrittura, allo scopo di convincere mediante questo procedimento puramente razionale anche i non credenti. L'essenza intima del suo metodo è dunque apologetica. Lanfranco, richiesto da Anselmo di esprimere un giudizio su questa sua prima opera, criticò il sistema e disse che avrebbe preferito una maggior considerazione delle autorità.
2) Il Proslogion (con la discussione relativa) è un breve scritto, già intitolato Fides quaerens intellectum, prima che con i titoli Monologion e Proslogion si potessero stabilire gli esatti rapporti che intercorrono tra le due opere. Secondo le intenzioni di A., avrebbe dovuto rappresentare una semplificazione e, fino ad un certo punto, una sostituzione del Monologion. Al posto, infatti, delle numerose e complicate dimostrazioni di quest'altra opera, l'autore presenta un unico argomento. Nella prefazione dello scritto ci racconta in quale modo giungesse a questa scoperta. Egli parte dal concetto di Dio assunto dalla Fede ("credimus") come qualcosa di cui non si può immaginare nulla di più grande ("id quod maius cogitari nequit") e deduce da questo concetto la necessità della sua esistenza anche extramentale. Le sue argomentazioni sono queste: ci si può immaginare che quella cosa, oltre la quale non si può pensare nulla di più grande, debba esistere non solo nella ragione, ma anche nella realtà che è cosa più grande; così deve esistere anche nella realtà; altrimenti non ci sarebbe qualcosa oltre la quale non ci si può immaginare nulla di più grande. L'argomento è poi applicato alla dimostrazione dell'essenza e degli attributi di Dio.
Anche questa prova ha finalità apologetiche, in quanto si rivolge a chi nega Iddio. Non appena gli verrà proposto il concetto "ciò, di cui non si può pensare nulla di più grande", l'ateo non potrà negarne l'esistenza anche fuori della mente. Per quanto il concetto venga preso dalla fede, se ne traggono argomentazioni puramente razionali; e nell'ambito della dimostrazione non ha più nessuna importanza, donde il concetto provenga.
L'interpretazione di K. Barth, per la quale quest'unico punto, ricavato dalla fede, dell'esistenza di Dio, punto che momentaneamente rimane in sospeso, verrebbe ricavato dai restanti dati di fede, è diametralmente opposta alle intenzioni di Anselmo.
L'argomentazione del Proslogion è stata chiusa da A. nella cornice di una Oratio per cui aveva già foggiato una sua forma letteraria propria. Da questo intreccio di speculazione e preghiera (l'unica volta che questo si verifica presso A.) nasce una magnifica opera d'arte, modellata probabilmente sulle Confessiones di s. Agostino.
È poi errato voler ricavare da questa forma letteraria di preghiera indirizzata a Dio la conclusione che nel Proslogion non si possa trattare affatto di una dimostrazione dell'esistenza di Dio (come sostiene invece A. Stolz).
L'argomentazione del Proslogion trovò presto un critico ad A. sconosciuto, il cui nome, però, Gaunilone di Marmoutiers, risultò poi da due manoscritti francesi del secolo XII. Questi scrisse un'obiezione al Proslogion, e A. gli rispose con una replica, che volle poi rimanesse per sempre allegata alla sua opera. Del resto, anche san Tommaso d'Aquino e dopo di lui molti altri ancora, obiettarono ad A. le stesse cose che aveva obiettato Gaunilone, e cioè che la dimostrazione introdotta nel Proslogion contenesse un salto non lecito dall'ordine logico a quello ontologico (quindi a partire da Kant la prova di A. venne chiamata "prova ontologica dell'esistenza di Dio"). Si poteva giungere alla sicurezza dell'esistenza di un essere così perfetto, soltanto presupponendo che un tale essere esistesse davvero. D'altra parte, la dimostrazione ha avuto anche entusiastici consensi, come quelli di s. Bonaventura, Duns Scoto, Cartesio, Leibnitz e altri ancora, che hanno più o meno modificato la prova anselmiana. Ancora oggi perdura il dissenso sull'argomento; a mio parere, tuttavia, i testi difficilmente ammettono un'interpretazione che non sia quella aprioristica.
3) Il De grammatico, primo dei quattro dialoghi successivi tra maestro e scolaro, è definito dallo stesso autore come non inutile per chi voglia essere introdotto nella dialettica. Con acume logico questo dialogo - che ricorda i dialoghi di Platone (C. Ottaviano) - si serve della questione se grammaticus sia una sostanza o una qualità per spiegare una serie di concetti logici, per la cui soluzione si adopera più volte Aristotele.
4) L'importante scritto De veritate tratta del concetto della verità e delle sue diverse applicazioni nella lingua parlata. La verità stessa culmina poi nella Somma Verità. Alla originalissima definizione della verità come "rectitudo sola mente perceptibilis" si affianca quella della giustizia come "rectitudo voluntatis servata propter ipsam rectitudinem".
5) Il De libertate arbitrii contrappone alla definizione agostiniana del libero arbitrio come "posse peccare aut non peccare", una propria: "potestas servandi rectitudinem, voluntatis propter ipsam rectitudinem". Dimostra, tra l'altro, che l'angelo e l'uomo non l'hanno perduto nemmeno dopo il peccato; che esso continua anche nella tentazione; che Dio stesso non può allontanare nessuno dalla rectitudo voluntatis. Alla fine segue una ripartizione distintiva della libertà.
6) Il De casu diaboli, un lavoro assai ricco di contenuto dal punto di vista teologico, investiga il problema di come l'angelo sia diventato colpevole per la sua caduta, non essendo egli dotato della grazia della perseveranza. A. si dilunga su importanti questioni, tra cui per esempio sul problema dell'essenza della libertà, del male e della causalità del male da parte di Dio, della potenza, della conoscenza che l'angelo ha in precedenza della propria caduta, dell'impossibilità per l'angelo caduto di ritornare alla giustizia, ecc.
7) La Epistola de incarnatione verbi fuprovocata da una lettera di Giovanni, suo monaco a Bec e futuro abate di Telese, sul detto triteistico del celebre nominalista Roscellino: "Si in Deo tres personae sunt, una tanturn res unaquaeque per se separatim, sicut tres angeli aut tres animae, ita tamen, ut voluntate et potentia omnino sint idem: ergo pater et spiritus sanctus cum filio est incarnatus". A., che non disponeva di ulteriori informazioni, aveva iniziato la sua confutazione quando ancora era abate (questa prima redazione fu scoperta contemporaneamente da Wilmart e da Sclimitt). L'aveva poi interrotta dopo l'abiura di Roscellino al concilio di Soissons, terminandola poi, da arcivescovo, quando Roscellino era riapparso in pubblico con la sua eresia. Lo scritto era dedicato al papa Urbano II. Anche qui A. trae i propri argomenti dalla sola ragione, dato che il suo antagonista non crede alla Sacra Scrittura e non la interpreta esattamente. Lo scritto è essenzialmente una dottrina della Trinità, ma contiene anche brani importanti per la filosofia (problema degli universali); nella introduzione reca alcuni chiarimenti notevoli sulla relazione tra fede e ragione, da cui risulta chiaramente che A., nonostante il suo metodo razionale, era ben lontano da un razionalismo non cristiano.
8) Il Cur Deus homo, l'opera principale di A., è di grande importanza per la dottrina della Redenzione nella teologia cattolica. Questo delizioso dialogo con Bosone (suo futuro secondo successore come abate di Bec) è diretto contro la vecchia teoria ripresa da Origene e mantenutasi fino al Medioevo inoltrato, per cui il demonio, a causa della caduta dei progenitori avrebbe ottenuto un diritto su tutto il genere umano. La Redenzione era avvenuta perché il Diavolo aveva perduto i suoi diritti sull'uomo quando aveva voluto ingiustamente impadronirsi della persona immune dal peccato del Dio-Uomo. A. sostituì a questa dottrina un nuovo tentativo di spiegazione, dopo d'aver provato l'assurdità della teoria che il demonio possa avere diritto sul genere umano: è la cosiddetta teoria della soddisfazione.
Il peccato è un'infinita offesa di Dio. Condonarlo senz'altro sarebbe contrario alla giustizia divina. Così resta soltanto la pena o la soddisfazione. L'uomo doveva soddisfare, ma Dio solo poteva soddisfare; era quindi necessario che un Uomo-Dio desse soddisfazione, se non doveva andar delusa l'intenzione divina con l'uomo, da lui chiamato alla beatitudine.
Nel corso della dimostrazione sono incluse una serie di digressioni, per esempio sul numero degli angeli caduti che dovranno essere sostituiti dagli uomini, sulla spontaneità della morte di Cristo ecc. La teologia successiva ha essenzialmente accettato la dottrina di A. sulla Redenzione.
Anche qui abbiamo un'elaborazione accuratissima del metodo seguito dall'autore. Il Cur deus homo è un lavoro eminentemente apologetico. In esso A. discute con gli infedeli (nel senso più vasto della parola); contemporaneamente però vuol confortare i fedeli mediante l'analisi e l'approfondimento di quanto essi credono. Quindi, anche qui si procede in maniera puramente razionale: si parte metodicamente dal presupposto che Cristo non sia ancora apparso, e viene messa in evidenza la necessità (rationes necessariae) che tutto si debba compiere come poi effettivamente si compì. La teologia, tuttavia, non lo ha seguito nel mettere in rilievo questa necessità.
9) Il De conceptu virginali et de originali peccato, opera estremamente feconda per la teologia, si propone di portare un'ulteriore motivazione della questione già trattata nel Cur deus homo, per quale ragione cioè Cristo, pur provenendo dalla massa damnatrix, sia rimasto immune dal peccato originale. In proposito l'autore tratta una serie di argomenti importanti, tra cui la natura del peccato originale, il grado della sua gravità, il modo come esso ci fu trasmesso dai progenitori, la convenienza che Cristo nascesse da una vergine, l'influenza dei peccati personali dei genitori sui figli, la dannazione dei bimbi morti senza battesimo, ecc. Qui, A. ha anche stabilito il principio della necessità che la Madonna, dopo Dio, fosse l'essere più santo. "Decens erat, ut ea puritate, qua maior sub deo nequit intelligi, virgo illa niteret cui deus pater unicum filium suum... ita dare disponebat, ut naturaliter esset unus idem comunis dei patris et virginis filius etc." appianando così la strada alla teologia verso il concetto dell'Immacolata Concezione, un concetto che egli stesso non accetta (cfr. Cur deus homo e De conceptu virginali).
10) Il De processione spiritus sancti, uno scritto che si distingue particolarmente per acume dialettico, è una rielaborazione dell'orazione tenuta da A. al concilio di Bari sulla processione dello Spirito Santo dal Padre e dal Figlio. È il primo scritto e allo stesso tempo anche lo scritto conclusivo contro l'eresia greca. Dato che i Greci accettano la Sacra Scrittura, anche A. si vuol basare su di essa. Nel motivare il dogma, egli fu il primo a stabilire questo principio per la Trinità: "Omnia sunt unum, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio" (cfr. Decretum pro Iacobitis: Denziger, Enchiridion n. 703).
11) Nel De sacrificio azimi et fermentati, una risposta a questioni del vescovo Walramo di Naumburg il quale propendeva verso lo scisma, mostra in primo luogo che la giustificazione dei latini di servirsi del pane azimo per il sacrificio della Messa era almeno altrettanto valida quanto quella dei greci di servirsi del pane fermentato. Quindi A. difende anche il numero moderato dei gradi di parentela fra consanguinei dei latini rispetto a quello esagerato dei greci.
12) La Epistola de sacramentis ecclesiae, diretta al medesimo vescovo, espone la giustificazione delle differenze negli usi liturgici secondari presso i greci e i latini.
13) Il De concordia praescientiae et praedestinationis et gratiae dei cum libero arbitrio, l'ultimo scritto di A., tratta in tre sezioni i difficili problemi menzionati nel titolo, problemi che lo avevano già a suo tempo preoccupato a Bec. In esso, accanto alla parte speculativa, cerca anche di far armonizzare i brani della Sacra Scrittura in apparente contraddizione tra loro. Importanti anche nella terza parte alcune osservazioni di principio a proposito della Sacra Scrittura.
14) Preghiere e Meditazioni. Nel prologo l'autore stesso dà istruzioni per la lettura e lo studio di queste preghiere che si distinguono enormemente da altri opuscoli ascetici della sua epoca. Anzitutto, per la forma artistica (si tratta di veri piccoli capolavori retorici, con uso abbondante di figure oratorie, soprattutto del costante parallelismo dei periodi), poi per la razionalità del metodo e il brillante svolgimento del tema. La loro sensibilità soggettiva le avvicina alla forma moderna d'ascetismo. Di particolare importanza è la terza "Orazione a Maria", per la sua straordinaria bellezza, e soprattutto per il suo ricco contenuto mariologico. Si può dire che in tutta la letteratura religiosa non esista nulla di simile. Nella prima parte della Meditatio redemptionis humanae (Med. 3) l'autore dà un riassunto del Cur deus homo, ma alleggerito degli sviluppi polemici, metodologici e apologetici.
15) Le Lettere di A. in numero di 475,con lettere indirizzate a lui e ad altri, ci offrono un quadro vivace del suo carattere e della sua visione ascetica del mondo. Le lettere di data più recente sono importantissime per la storia ecclesiastica dell'Inghilterra dei suoi tempi. A. era in corrispondenza con uomini di tutti i ceti che sapessero scrivere: con monaci e monache, con abati, vescovi e altri ecclesiastici, con signori dell'aristocrazia e con altre personalità secolari, con donne di alto lignaggio, ecc. Ricordiamo alcuni nomi celebri: Gregorio VII, i re Filippo e Ludovico di Francia, Alessandro di Scozia, Muriardach d'Irlanda, Baldovino di Gerusalemme, i conti Roberto di Fiandra, Harco delle Orcadi, le contesse Matilde di Toscana, Alta di Blois, Ida di Boulogne-sur-Mer, Adele e Clemenza di Fiandra, i vescovi Ivo di Chartres, Ildebrando di Le Mans, Astero di Lund, Diaco di Santiago, l'abate Ugo di Cluny.
Appendice:I Dicta Anselmi sono appunti di conferenze tenuti da Anselmo. Sono stati trovati in singoli manoscritti, specialmente nel cod. 457della Biblioteca del Corpus-Christi College di Cambridge, ma non sono scritti dalla sua mano. Il loro autore è il monaco Alessandro, menzionato sopra come un messo di Anselmo. Essi formano il nucleo dell'opera De similitudinibus, una compilazione posteriore, falsamente attribuita ad Eadmero. (L'edizione dei Dicta è in corso di preparazione).
Al di là degli originali contributi alla soluzione dei singoli problemi teologici risultanti dall'esame degli scritti, l'opera di A. acquista un particolare significato nella storia del pensiero medievale soprattutto per il compito assegnato alla ratio e alla dialettica nell'approfondimento della speculazione dogmatica.
Contro la presunzione dei "dialettici moderni", che rischiavano di subordinare la fede alle regole del discorso logico-dialettico, ma anche contro la negazione tradizionalistica della ratio in nome della auctoritas, A. difende - e realizza nei suoi scritti - il peculiare ed ineliminabile compito della ratio per enucleare tutta la ricchezza del patrimonio dogmatico accettato dal credente per semplice fede. "Fides quaerens intellectum" è il titolo originario del Proslogion e riassume l'orientamento della speculazione di A.: "non tento Domine penetrare altitudinem tuam, quia nullatenus comparo illi intellectum meum; sed desidero aliquatenus intelligere veritatem tuam, quam credit et amat cor meum. Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam. Nam et hoc credo: quia nisi credidero, non intelligam" (Proslogion, 1 ed. Schmitt, vol. I, p. 100); la fede è la fondamentale esperienza su cui si esercita la speculazione razionale: "qui non crediderit, non intelliget. Nam qui non crediderit, non experietur; et qui expertus non fuerit, non cognoscet" (Epistola de incarnatione Verbi, I;e d. cit., vol. II, p. 9).
Muovendo dalla fede, l'intellectus progressivamente scopre la ratio immanente alla fede (ratio fidei), svolgendosi senza piu bisogno di ricorrere all'auctoritas che resta oggetto, non mezzo di prova; in questo processo l'intelligere raggiungeuna sua necessitas (rationes necessariae) nella misura in cui riesce a scoprire quella assoluta ratio veritatis che presiede all'economia della rivelazione e fonda la ratio fidei,come la ragione dell'uomo (ratio veritatis nos docuit).
Si definisce in questo contesto il valore dell'intellectus, teso fra fede e visione beatifica: "Certa enim fides - aveva scritto Agostino - utcumque inchoat cognitionem, cognitio vero certa non perficietur, nisi post hanc vitam, cum videbimus facie ad faciem" (De Trinitate, 9, I, I; P. L. 42, 961); sulla stessa linea di pensiero A. scrive: "inter fidem et speciem intellectum, quem in hac vita capimus esse medium, intelligo" (Cur Deus homo, lettera dedicatoria; ed. cit. vol. II, p. 40). La speculazione razionale è in continuazione della fede e avvia a quella comprensione dei misteri divini che si compirà solo nella visione beatifica; è il pregnante sviluppo del versetto paolino "videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem. Nunc cognosco ex parte, tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum" (I Cor.13, 12).
Per intendere la posizione anselmiana sarebbe quindi erroneo muovere da una giustapposizione tra fede e ragione: esse sono situate sulla stessa linea di sviluppo come momenti di unico conoscere, dalla fede alla contemplazione; di qui anche il nesso tra speculazione e preghiera, che è caratteristica dell'opera anselmiana: fervore religioso e tensione speculativa sono così saldamente congiunti che reciprocamente si rafforzano, sicché dove più profondo è il mistero della fede, più impegnata si fa anche la ratio:caratteristica l'indagine sul mistero dell'Incarnazione.
Le interpretazioni "razionalistiche" del pensiero anselmiano - che si appoggiano sul valore delle rationes necessariae nel discorso teologico - non tengono conto dell'immanenza della ratio nella fede e presuppongono un'idea di "ragione naturale" a lui estranea. D'altra parte, la definizione dell'opera di A. come esclusivamente "teologica" può essere accettata solo se si tiene presente che nel suo pensiero - come nell'età sua - non v'è distinzione tra filosofia, e teologia quali discipline estranee o giustapposte, ma l'una e l'altra agostinianamente si risolvono nella ricerca e nel godimento del vero e del bene (sapientia), cioè di Dio: e poiché Egli stesso ha rivelato agli uomini la via della verità, non avrebbe senso una ricerca della sapienza che volesse prescindere dalla fede nella sua rivelazione.
Racconta il biografo di A., Eadmero, che ancora sul letto di morte l'arcivescovo di Canterbury si tormentava attorno al problema filosofico dell'origine dell'anima: è questo costante impegno speculativo che ha meritato ad A. il titolo di Padre della scolastica; infatti se egli restò lontano dall'impostazione "sistematica" delle più tarde "summae" - la sua opera si svolge per monografie separate - la posizione che egli riconobbe alla ratio nell'elaborazione speculativa del dogma segna il consapevole inizio di quel processo che - attraverso l'opera dei sommisti e canonisti del XII secolo e soprattutto di Abelardo - porterà nel secolo XIII, arricchito delle tecniche della logica aristotelica, alla teorizzazione della teologia come "scienza".
Fonti e Bibl.: Le fonti principali per la vita di s. Anselmo sono le sue lettere e le opere del suo eccellente biografo Eadmero: Historia Novorum e Vita et conversatio Anselmi, a cura di M. Rule, in Rerum Britannicarum medii Aevi scriptores, n. 81, London 1884 (ma anche in Migne, Patr. Lat., CLVIII, coll. 49-118, e CLIX, coll. 347-524). Le altre biografie dei secc. XII e XIII dipendono completamente da Eadmero e offrono ben poco di nuovo.
La migliore biografia di A., sebbene rispecchi spesso il punto di vista personale dell'autore, è sempre quella di M. Rule, The Life and the Times of St. Anselm, 2 voll., London 1883; biografie più recenti: A. Levasti, S. A., vita e pensiero, Bari 1929; J. Clayton; St. Anselm. A critical Biography, Milwaukee 1933; D. Church, Anselm, London 1937; G. Ceriani, S. A., Brescia 1946.
Ricerche critico-letterarie: A. Wilmart, Le premier ouvrage de s. A. contre le trithéisme de Roscelin, in Recherches de théol. anc. et méd., III(1931), pp. 20-36; Id., La tradition des lettres de s. A. Lettres inédites de s.A. et de ses correspondants, in Revue Bénédictine, XLIII (1931), pp. 38-54; F. S. Schmitt, Zur Ueberlieferung der Korrespondenz A.s. von Canterbury. Neue Briefe, ibidem, pp.224-238; A. Wilmart, Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du Moyen Age, Paris 1932 (importante per l'ascetismo di A.; a p. 147 e n. 1 sono indicati i lavori del Wilmart); F. S. Schmitt, Zur Chronologie der Werke des hl. A. von Canterbury, in Revue Bénédictine, XLIV (1932), pp. 322-350; Id., Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Hs.-Sammlungen der Briefe des hl. A. von Canterbury, in Revue Bénédictine, XLVIII (1936), pp. 300-317; Id., Ein neues, unvollendetes Werk des hl. A. von Canterbury, Münster 1936; Id., Les corrections de s. A. à son Monologion, in Revue Bénédictine, L(1938), pp. 194-205; Id., Cinq recensions de l'Epistola de incarnatione verbi de s.A. de Canterbury, ibid., LI (1939), pp. 275-287; Id., Zur neuen Ausgabe der Gebete und Betrachtungen des hl. A. von Canterbury in Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati, II, Città del Vaticano 1946, pp. 158-178; Id., Des hl. A. von Canterbury Gebet zum hl. Benedikt zum Wesensart der anselmianischen Gebete und Betrachtungen, in Studia Anselmiana, Roma 1947, pp. 295-313; Id., Geschichte und Beurteilung der früheren Anselmsausgaben, in Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerordens, XLV (1954), pp. 90-115; Id., Die Chronol. der Briefe des hl. A. von Canterbury, in Revue Bénédictine, LXIV (1954), pp. 176-207; Id., Die echten und unechten Stücke der Korrespondenz des hl. A. von Canterbury, ibid., LXV (1955), pp. 218-227; Id., Die unter A. veranstaltete Ausgabe seiner Werke und Briefe. Die Codices Bodley 271 und Lambeth 59, in Scriptorium, IX(1955), pp. 64-75; Id., La nuova edizione delle opere di S. A. d'Aosta, in Relazioni e comunicazioni al XXXI Congresso storico subalpino, Aosta 1956, pp.947-960; K. Strijd, Structuur en inhoud van Anselmus' "Cur deus homo", Assen 1958; A. Bütler, Die Seinslehre des hl. A. v. C., Ingenbohl 1959; F. S. Schmitt, Introd. a: S. A. d'Aosta, Il Proslogion, le Orazioni e le Meditazioni, Padova 1959.
Diversi autori su diversi problemi in: Spicilegium Beccense I, Congrès international du IX Centenaire de l'arrivée d'A. au Bec, Le Bec-Hellouin-Paris 1959.
Per il metodo anselmiano: A. M. Jacquin, Les "rationes necessariae" de s.A., in Mélanges Mandonnet. Etudes d'histoire littéraire et doctrinale du Moyen Age, II, Paris 1932, pp. 67-78 (e v. C. Ottaviano, Le "rationes necessariae" in s.A ., in Sophia I, pp. 91-97); A. Hayen, La méthode théologique selon s. A., in Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age, X(1936), pp. 96-102; G. Söhngen, Die Einheit der Theologie in A.s. Proslogion, in Personal-und Vorlesungs-Verzeichnis, Wintersemester 1938/9, der Staatl. Akademie zu Braunsberg, Anhang.
Dottrina: Per la bibliografia più antica si veda F. Ueberweg, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, II: B. Geyer, Mittelalter, Berlin 1928, pp. 192 ss., 698 ss. Inoltre: K. Barth, Fides quaerens intellectum, München 1931, Zollikon 1958 (ma v. M. Cappuyns, L'argument de s.A.,in Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale, VI , pp. 313-330), F. S. Schmitt, Der ontologische Gottesbeweis des hl. A.,in Theolog. Revue, XXXII(1933), pp. 217-223; A. Anweiler, A. von Canterbury, Monologion und Proslogion, in Scholastik,VIII(1933), coll. 551-560; A. Stolz, Zur Theologie A.s. im Proslogion, in Catholica, II(1933), pp. 1-24; E. Gilson, Sens et nature de l'argument de s.A., in Archives d'hist. doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age, IX(1934), pp. 5-52; J. Bayart, The Concept of Mistery according to St. A. of C., in Recherches de théologie ancienne et médievale, IX (1937), pp. 125-166; R. T. Jones, Sancti A.i Mariologia, Illinois 1937; A. Kolping, A.s Proslogion-Beweis der Existenz Gottes, Bonn 1939; R. H. Viglino, De mente s. A.i quoad pristinum hominis statum in Divus Thomas, XLII (1939), pp. 215-239; L. Baudry, La prescience divine chez s. A., in Archives d'hist. doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age, XIII(1940-42), pp. 223-237; B. Geyer, Zur Deutung von A.s Cur Deus homo, in Theologie und Glaube, 1942, pp. 203-210; R. W. Southern, St. A. and his English pupils, in Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies, I(1941-43), pp. 3-34; S. Alamada, La mariologia de San A., in Ciencias, XII (1947), pp. 561-601; A. Chicchetti, L'agostinianismo di A. d'Aosta, Roma 1949; S. Vanni Rovighi, S. Anselmo e la filosofia del sec. XI, Milano 1949; R. Perino, La dottrina trinitaria di S. A. nel quadro del suo metodo teologico e del suo concetto di Dio, Roma 1952; A. Suraci, Il pensiero e l'opera educativa di S. A. d. Aosta, Torino 1953; F. S. Schmitt, Dante und A. v. A., Zum Prolog. der Divina Commedia, in Medioevo e Rinascimento; Studi in onore di Bruno Nardi, Firenze (s.a.), pp. 651-666; J. Mc Intyre, St. A. and his critics. A reinterpretation of the Cur Deus homo, Edinburgh 1954; F. S. Schmitt, La Meditatio redemptionis humanae di S. A. in relazione al Cur Deus homo, in Benedictina, IX (1955), pp. 197-213. Si vedano infine: Dictionn. de théologie catholique I, col.1327-1360 (con ulteriori rinvii bibliografici); Enc. It., III, pp.429-431; Dictionn. de Spiritualité, ascétique et mystique, I, col. 690-696; Enc. Catt., I, coll. 1406-1415.
Den hellige Anselm av Canterbury (~1033-1109)
Minnedag: 21. april
Den hellige Anselm (it: Anselmo; lat: Anselmus) ble født rundt 1033 i Aosta i regionen Valle d'Aosta i Nord-Italia på grensen til Burgund. Han var sønn av Gundulf (Gandlug), en ødeland av en mektig lombardisk adelsmann, som var svært streng og ikke tålte motstand. Moren Ermenberga kom fra en gammel burgundisk familie. Hun ga sønnen en from oppdragelse, og den preget ham for resten av livet. Etter hennes død ble Anselms forhold til faren svært dårlig. Han gjorde som femtenåring et første forsøk på å slutte seg til benediktinerklosteret i Aosta, men det ble stoppet av abbeden, som fryktet for farens motstand. Resultatet var at Anselm i flere år kastet seg ut i en rastløs ungdomstid med et verdslig og udisiplinert liv. Men virkelighetsflukten lyktes ikke, hans lengsel etter et dypere åndelig liv lot seg ikke undertrykke.
Anselm forlot hjemmet i 1056 og dro sammen med en tjener til Burgund for å studere og bo hos sin mors familie. Der fikk han høre om benediktinerklosteret Bec i Seinedalen i Normandie og prioren der, den salige italieneren Lanfranc, som var betraktet som den fremste lærer på sin tid og hadde gjort Bec til en av de mest berømte skoler i Vest-Europa. Abbed i Bec var grunnleggeren, den salige Herluin. Anselm flyttet i 1059 til Normandie, hvor han ble en venn av Lanfranc og sekulær student hos ham. Etter mye nøling trådte han i 1060 inn i klosteret som benediktinermunk (Ordo Sancti Benedicti – OSB). Lanfranc skulle komme til å inneha erkebispesetet i Canterbury før ham selv (1070-89).
Avgjørelsen om å tre inn i klosteret var ikke lett for Anselm. Han var tiltrukket av det monastiske liv i Cluny i Burgund, men undret på om livsstilen der ville tillate ham å utvikle sin store interesse for studier. Men samtidig, hvis han sluttet seg til kommuniteten i Bec, ville han bli overskygget av Lanfranc, og det appellerte ikke til ham, for han hadde ambisjoner om å skape seg et navn – han var «ennå ikke temmet», som han senere formulerte det. Kanskje han skulle vende tilbake til Aosta og ta opp sin arv, ettersom faren var død, eller kanskje han til og med skulle bli eremitt. Til slutt fulgte han den lokale biskopens råd om å underkaste seg Lanfrancs åndelige styre.
Anselm studerte den hellige Augustin i ti år, men i den første tiden skrev han ingenting som er bevart. Han ble klosterets prior i 1063, etter at Lanfranc var blitt utnevnt til abbed i klosteret St. Stefan i Caen. Selv om mange av de eldre munkene motsatte seg utnevnelsen av en så ung mann (30 år) som hadde vært munk i så kort tid, ble de snart vunnet av Anselms fasthet kombinert med hans mildhet. Han viet spesiell oppmerksomhet til opplæringen av unge munker, og han skapte en gruppe munker som skulle komme til å fylle viktige poster på ulike steder mens de fortsatte å være hengiven mot Anselm.
Fra denne tiden stammer hans bønner, meditasjoner og De Grammatico. Han skrev også Monologion (1077), hvor han ga metafysiske bevis på Guds eksistens og natur, og Proslogion (1078), som har vært berømte i århundrer på grunn av sine «ontologiske» bevis på Guds eksistens; det viser Anselms originalitet og forberedte veien for hans senere teologiske verk. Hans argumenter har alltid siden vært et viktig element i teologisk og filosofisk debatt. Hans verk influerte store tenkere i senere tider, blant dem den salige Johannes Duns Scotus, Descartes og Hegel.
I løpet av sine tretti år som prior og abbed skrev Anselm mange av sine innflytelsesrike filosofiske og teologiske verker, som er karakterisert av en fornuftsbegrunnet argumentasjon som har gitt ham tilnavnet «skolastikkens far» (eller forløper), men hans intellektuelle strenghet ble mildnet av hans følsomme sinn og sjenerøse hjerte. Han sa: «Jeg ønsker å forstå noe av den sannheten som mitt hjerte tror på og elsker. Jeg søker dermed ikke å forstå for å tro, men jeg tror for at jeg skal kunne forstå» (Credo ut intelligam). Et av hans andre uttrykk var Fides quaerens intellectum, «Troen søker forståelsen». Andre av hans verker er De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu virginali, De veritate og Liber apologeticus pro insipiente. Mange hendelser som er kjent fra hans liv, vitner like mye som hans skrifter om det tiltrekkende ved hans karakter.
I 1078 døde Becs grunnlegger Herluin, og den 26. august 1078 ble Anselm enstemmig valgt av de andre munkene til ny abbed, ettersom han var klosterets ledende teologiske kraft og hans følsomme, intuitive sinn passet munkene bra. Stillingen som abbed gjorde at han nødvendigvis ble involvert i verdslige og kirkelige saker i Normandie og det anglo-normanniske England, hvor franskmenn systematisk var plassert i alle viktige stillinger i landet etter normannernes invasjon i 1066. Abbeder av viktige klostre var stormenn med betydelige eiendommer og stor innflytelse. Anselm måtte forsvare og om mulig utvide disse eiendommene og klosterets privilegier, delta ved hertugens hoff, opptre som politisk rådgiver og være til stede ved synoder og konsiler. Anselm var suksessrik på alle disse feltene, og i hans tid som abbed økte Becs posisjon.
Anselm fremmet fremfor alt klosterskolen, hvor han innførte nye undervisningsmetoder, som gjennom klok mildhet utelukket enhver tvang. I hans 15 år som abbed trådte ikke mindre enn 180 munker inn i klosteret. Ved siden av omsorgen for munkene ble han også igjen nært knyttet til Lanfranc, som siden 1070 hadde vært erkebiskop av Canterbury. På et av hans besøk konsulterte Lanfranc Anselm om den hellige Alphegus av Canterbury. Lanfranc gikk mot hans kult, spesielt som martyr, siden han ikke hadde dødd for sin tros skyld. Men Anselm svarte at Alphegus var en martyr for rettferdigheten, slik som Johannes Døperen var en martyr for sannheten, og etter hvert godkjente Lanfranc kulten. Som abbed besøkte Anselm ofte England for å inspisere eiendommer som klosteret hadde der, og dette brakte ham i kontakt med engelske kirkelige saker. I tillegg gjorde hans vennlighet at han fikk mange engelske tilhengere. Kong Vilhelm I Erobreren (1066-87) ga ham et charter som bekreftet alle klosterets eiendommer og rettigheter i England. Vilhelm sendte også bud etter Anselm for å besøke ham på dødsleiet.
Ved Lanfrancs død i 1089 ønsket presteskapet i England at Anselm skulle bli hans etterfølger, men den nye kongen Vilhelm II Rufus (= den røde) (1087-1100) holdt erkebispesetet vakant i fire år, for selv å få hånd om inntektene, og i Kirken i England hersket anarkistiske tilstander. Anselm var ikke i England i denne perioden, men i september 1092 reiste han dit og ble hyllet som ny erkebiskop av det engelske presteskapet. Anselm flyktet unna en slik akklamasjon og tok seg av sin ordens saker – han var i England for å grunnlegge klosteret i Chester under Bec. Men i 1093 ble kong Vilhelm Rufus alvorlig syk, og han fryktet for sitt liv. Da bestemte han seg for å vise større fromhet. Han lovte at i fremtiden skulle han styre etter loven, og han gikk med på å utnevne Anselm til erkebiskop av Canterbury.
Da Anselm prøvde å vende tilbake til Frankrike, ble han stanset etter kongens ordre og forelagt utnevnelsen til erkebiskop. Anselm viste til sin alder, dårlige helse og uskikkethet til å ta seg av politiske saker, men han ble tatt med til kongens sykeseng i Gloucester, hvor biskopene og andre som var til stede, tvang bispestaven inn i hans hånd og bar ham av gårde til kirken, hvor de sang Te Deum. Da aksepterte den motvillige Anselm utnevnelsen. Dette var den 6. mars 1093. Noen forskere mener at Anselm hadde vært favorittkandidat til erkebispestolen siden Lanfrancs død og at mange av kongens rådgivere hadde presset på for å få ham utnevnt, og at Anselm må ha visst om dette da han reiste til England høsten 1092, og at han allerede da var blitt overbevist om at det var Guds vilje at han skulle bli erkebiskop. Derfor var han villig til å akseptere valget, ikke av personlige ambisjoner men i lydighet mot Guds vilje. Han ble konsekrert den 4. desember 1093.
Men kongen ble frisk, og da var alle løfter glemt, og heretter var erkebiskopens offentlige liv nesten helt behersket av uenighet med kong Vilhelm II og senere med hans sønn og etterfølger Henrik I (1100-35) om forholdet mellom Kirken og staten, representert ved kongen. Blant prinsippspørsmålene var Kirkens rett til å velge biskoper uten innblanding fra kongemakten, samme strid som noen år tidligere hadde rast mellom den tyske keiser Henrik IV (1056-1106) og den hellige pave Gregor VII (1073-85) og som i 1077 endte med den verdslige makts ydmykende Canossagang. Anselm hadde ikke sittet lenge i stolen før kongen, som tok sikte på å vriste hertugdømmet Normandie ut av sin bror Roberts hender, begynte å samle inn midler for dette formålet.
Kongen skulle ha betaling for utnevnelsen av Anselm til erkebiskop. Han var ikke fornøyd med Anselms tilbud om 500 mark, men krevde 1000 mark. Anselm nektet bestemt. Han var absolutt lydig mot det han så som Guds og Kirkens sak, mens han var helt uten sympati med en verden av politikk og kompromisser. Som abbed av Bec hadde han allerede anerkjent den salige Urban II (1088-99) som pave, og som erkebiskop av Canterbury nektet han å anerkjenne motpaven Klemens (III) (1080-1100), som Vilhelm først støttet. Da Anselm forberedte seg på å reise til Roma for å motta palliet av paven, erkebiskopenes verdighetstegn, møtte han motstand fra kongen. Kongen inngikk et kompromiss ved å sende en legat til Roma for å hente palliet.
I tillegg nølte Anselm ikke med på det mest bestemte å anmode kongen om å fylle vakante abbedstoler og å godkjenne innkallelsen av synoder som skulle slå ned på misbruk blant prester og legfolk. Den rasende kongen svarte at hans klostre like lite skulle fratvinges ham som hans krone, og fra det øyeblikket bestemte han seg for å få Anselm fjernet fra erkebispestolen. Han lyktes å få flere biskoper over på sin side, men da han påbød baronene å slutte seg til ham mot erkebiskopen, han ble møtt med blankt avslag. Et forsøk på å overtale pave Urban II til å avsette Anselm var like virkningsløst. Den samme pavelige legaten, biskop Walter av Albano, som kom for å fortelle Vilhelm Rufus at hans anmodning ikke kunne innvilges, brakte med palliet til Anselm, som igjen gjorde erkebiskopens stilling uangripelig. Men da kongen prøvde å tildele Anselm palliet personlig, nektet erkebiskopen, men i en høytidelig seremoni den 10. juni 1095 ble det lagt på alteret i Canterbury av legaten, og deretter aksepterte Anselm det og tok det på seg.
Da Anselm fant at kongen var fast bestemt på å undertrykke kirken ved enhver anledning dersom presteskapet ikke lystret hans vilje, ba han om tillatelse til å forlate landet for å konsultere Den hellige Stol. To ganger fikk han avslag, men til slutt sa kongen at han kunne reise om han ville, men da ville hans eiendommer bli beslaglagt og han ville aldri få tillatelse til å vende tilbake. Ikke desto mindre dro Anselm fra Canterbury i oktober 1097.
Først dro han til Cluny for å rådføre seg med den hellige Hugo av Cluny, og deretter dro han til Lyon. Derfra skrev han brev til paven, hvor han mente at han bedre kunne tjene Gud som privatperson, og ba paven frita ham fra embetet. Deretter reiste han til Roma for å legge frem sin sak for paven. Urban avslo anmodningen om å få gå av og forsikret ham om sin beskyttelse. Han skrev også til den engelske kongen for å kreve at Anselm fikk tilbake sine rettigheter og eiendommer, og han truet med ekskommunikasjon hvis ikke dette skjedde. Det var likevel klart at Anselm ikke kunne vende tilbake til England i øyeblikket, så han fikk lov til å reise fra Roma til et kloster i Campania av helsemessige årsaker.
Det var mens erkebiskopen bodde der at han fullførte sin berømte bok Cur Deus Homo? («Hvorfor ble Gud menneske?»), som han hadde skrevet det meste av i England. Det er et av de mest kjente verk om Guds forsoning med verden, og der ville han forsøke å forklare hvorfor Gud hadde måttet bli menneske i Jesus. Han skrev at hvis Gud bare hadde tilgitt menneskenes synder uten videre, ville hans nåde kommet i konflikt med kravet om rettferdighet. For å forene nåde og rettferdighet var det nødvendig med et offer som var større enn menneskenes ulydighet. Bare Gud kunne gjøre et slikt offer, men bare menneskene burde gjøre det. Derfor var det Gud i et menneskes skikkelse som kunne og skulle gjøre dette offeret, som Jesus gjorde på korset.
Anselm deltok også på konsilet i Bari i Italia i 1098 og medvirket til å fjerne tvilen hos de greske biskoper i Sør-Italia om at Den hellige Ånd utgår fra både Faderen og Sønnen (Filioque-striden). Konsilet fordømte deretter kongen av England for hans simoni, hans undertrykkelse av Kirken, hans forfølgelse av Anselm og hans personlige lastefullhet. En høytidelig bannlysning ble bare hindret av erkebiskopen bønnfallelser, som overtalte pave Urban til å begrense seg til en trussel om ekskommunikasjon. På et konsil i Roma året etter sluttet Anselm helhjertet seg til det gregorianske synet på det ulovlige i leginvestitur.
Den 2. august 1100 ble kong Vilhelm II Rufus myrdet under en jakt – ingen vet fortsett hvem som avfyrte den dødelige pilen og på oppdrag av hvem. Han ble fraktet til Westminster og gravlagt der. Hans sønn Henrik I overtok kronen, og han inviterte Anselm tilbake som erkebiskop. Den 23. september samme år kom Anselm tilbake til England, til stor glede for konge og folk. Anselm oppmuntret kongen til å gifte seg med Edith, de saksiske kongenes arving, og han ryddet av veien de siste hindrene. Han forsvarte også kongen mot normanniske adelsmenn. Men harmonien varte ikke lenge. Det oppsto vanskeligheter da Henrik I ville at Anselm skulle gjeninnsettes av ham selv og avlegge den tradisjonelle troskapseden for sitt sete. Dette var i strid med bestemmelsene fra synoden i Roma i 1099, hvor Anselm selv hadde deltatt, som hadde forbudt leginvestitur av biskoper og abbeder, og erkebiskopen nektet.
Kontroversene om investitur i middelalderen var komplekse. Det grunnleggende dreide seg om legmenns tildeling av symbolene på det kirkelige embete, som stav og ring, til prelater. I datidens føydalsamfunn ble dette vanligvis etterfulgt av prelatens troskapsed til legmannen. Men for å reformere Kirken og fri biskopene fra legmenns kontroll, ønsket reformpavene å stanse denne praksisen. Kongene og fyrstene argumenterte på sin side med at biskoper og abbeder ofte var store landeiere og i praksis lite forskjellige fra lege magnater i den makten de utøvde. Det var essensielt for en hersker å være sikker på deres troskap og å ha i det minste noe kontroll over deres utnevnelse.
Anselm ser ikke ut til å ha motsatt seg leginvestitur i prinsippet, og han hadde ikke noen innvendinger mot praksisen under Vilhelm Rufus. Han prøvde til og med å overtale den nye paven Paschalis II (1099-1118) til å gjøre et unntak for England. Men paven sto fast på at det ikke skulle være noen unntak fra det generelle forbudet mot leginvestitur, og insisterte på at dekretene fra Roma-synoden i 1099 skulle settes ut i livet. Da hadde Anselm ikke annet valg enn å gå inn for det samme, siden han på konsilet personlig hadde samtykket i dekretene – å gjøre noe annet, ville forårsaket stor skandale. Anselm var ikke stivnakket eller ubøyelig ved å støtte paven mot kongen, han mente oppriktig at hans samvittighet ikke ga ham noe alternativ.
For sin del mente kongen at han ikke kunne gi opp forfedrenes skikker uten å miste sin autoritet, og dessuten var disse skikkene tillatt av Anselm under Vilhelm Rufus og av Anselms store lærer og forgjenger i Canterbury, Lanfranc, under kong Vilhelm I Erobreren (1066-87). Kongen sa at han ikke kunne tillate noen i sitt kongerike som «ikke er min mann». Men på den tiden var det stor frykt for en truende invasjon av England fra hertug Robert av Normandie, som mange av baronene ikke var uvillig til å støtte. Henrik var ivrig etter å få Kirken på sin side, så han avla rause løfter om fremtidig lydighet mot Den hellige Stol, og trakk tilbake sitt krav om at Anselm skulle avlegge troskapseden. Erkebiskopen gjorde sitt ytterste for å hindre et opprør og ledet personlig tropper til Pevensey for å møte en mulig normannisk invasjon.
Henrik kunne i stor grad takke Anselm for at han beholdt kronen, men så snart trusselen om invasjon var avverget, var igjen alle løfter glemt. Henrik fornyet sitt krav på rett til investitur, mens erkebiskopen på sin side absolutt avslo å konsekrere biskoper som var utnevnt av kongen dersom de ikke var kanonisk valgt. Striden vokste for hver dag på grunn av både erkebiskopens og kongens uforsonlighet. Anselm ble i 1103 overtalt til å reise til Roma for personlig å legge saken frem for paven. Samtidig sendte Henrik en legat for å legge frem sitt syn på saken. Anselms forsøk på å overtale pave Paschalis II til et kompromiss, var mislykket. Etter nøye vurdering bekreftet paven sin forgjengers avgjørelser.
Henrik sendte da beskjed til Anselm og forbød ham å returnere hvis han fortsatt var like gjenstridig, og han erklærte at hans eiendommer var konfiskert. Fra desember 1103 til august 1106 oppholdt Anselm seg igjen i eksil i Roma. Både kongen og erkebiskopen brukte denne tiden til å fremme sin sak, og Anselms dyktige bruk av propaganda stemmer dårlig med bildet av ham som en tilbaketrukket munk og ineffektiv administrator. Rykter om at Anselm var klar til å ekskommunisere kongen, synes å ha skremt Henrik, og på et møte i Bec i Normandie i 1106/07 kom det til en slags forsoning, etter at pave Paschalis II anbefalte at Anselm modifiserte noen av sine tidligere standpunkter.
Pavens kompromissforslag, ble vedtatt på et kongelig konsil i London i august 1107. Det ga Kirken rett til investitur med stav og ring, symbolene på åndelig jurisdiksjon. Kongen ga avkall på investitur til bispedømmer og abbedier, men beholdt med erkebiskopens og pavens samtykke retten til å motta en vasall-ed fra biskopene for deres verdslige besittelser før konsekrasjonen. Dette kompromisset ble senere brukt som modell for å bilegge lignende disputter i andre land, for eksempel konkordatet i Worms i 1122 mellom keiser Henrik V (1106-25) og pave Callistus II (1119-24). Men kompromisset ga i praksis kongen uforminsket kontroll over bispevalgene.
Imidlertid var det kongen som hadde gitt etter mer enn erkebiskopen, så Anselms retur til England skjedde i triumf. Han fikk også fra både pave og konge en bekreftelse av Canterburys makt og privilegier som primatsete, og ved slutten av hans episkopat hadde Canterburys prestisje nådd en topp som var ukjent under forgjengeren Lanfranc, inkludert en anerkjennelse av dets jurisdiksjon over Kirken i Wales. Både Wales, Irland og Skottland (med viktige unntak) anerkjente Canterburys primat, mens York også måtte akseptere en pavelig avgjørelse som støttet Anselm og Canterbury.
Fra 1007 til sin død ble Anselm i England, hvor han og kongen nå samarbeidet i en vennlig atmosfære. Avtalen fra 1107 ble lojalt fulgt av kong Henrik, som nå aktet erkebiskopen høyt. Han stolte på ham i den grad at han til og med utnevnte Anselm til sin sønns verge og regent mens han selv besøkte Normandie en gang i 1108. Som hyrde oppmuntret Anselm til prestevielse av innfødte engelskmenn. Han holdt flere konsiler hvor han blant andre ting påla en strengere overholdelse av klerikalt sølibat, blant annet en synode i London i 1108. Disse dekretene ble helhjertet støttet av Henriks kongelige autoritet. På et nasjonalt konsil Anselm hadde holdt i Westminster i 1102, primært for å avgjøre kirkelige spørsmål, støttet han den hellige Wulfstan i hans motstand mot slaveri, og konsilet vedtok å forby praksisen med å selge mennesker som kveg.
Anselm gjeninnførte også festene for noen engelske helgener som hans forgjenger Lanfranc hadde avskaffet, blant andre den hellige Dunstan av Canterbury. Han etablerte også det nye bispesetet Ely. Selv om han ikke utmerket seg for sine politiske evner og han kanskje ikke likte å være administrator, men straks han var overbevist om at det var Guds vilje for ham, aksepterte han rollen, både som abbed av Bec og erkebiskop av Canterbury, og utførte den svært effektivt for Kirkens beste.
Anselms helse hadde lenge vært dårlig. Etter langvarig sykdom døde den 75-årige erkebiskopen den 21. april 1109 blant munkene i Canterbury og ble gravlagt i katedralen der.
Anselm var heldig med sin biograf, sin egen sekretær Eadmer av Canterbury (av Christ Church), som skrev en varm og personlig biografi, Vita Anselmi, som ble banebrytende på det biografiske felt og er vår hovedkilde for Anselms tidlige liv. Hans kult vokste langsomt. Den hellige Thomas Becket av Canterbury ba om Anselms kanonisering i Tours i 1163, men pave Alexander III (1159-81) henviste saken til et provinskonsil. Ingen formelle vedtak fra denne er bevart, men en kalender i Canterbury rundt 1165 er det første kjente bevis for to fester for Anselm, en av dem en translasjon. Men hans kult ble snart overskygget av Thomas Beckets, og i tillegg syntes noen av hans arbeider å miste sin popularitet på 1200-tallet, selv om interessen våknet igjen på 1300- og 1400-tallet. Flere kilder skriver at han ble helligkåret i 1494 av den berømte Borgia-paven Alexander VI. Hans skrin i Canterbury ble ødelagt under reformasjonen av kong Henrik VIII (1509-47). Tradisjonen hevder at Jomfru Maria viste seg for Anselm.
Dante nevner ham i «Paradiset» (canto xii) blant åndene av lys og styrke i Solens sfære, sammen med den hellige Johannes Krysostomos. Anselms navn dukker opp i Martyrologium Romanum i 1568, trolig på grunn av hans kult i Flandern. Først den 3. februar 1720 ble han definitivt helligkåret idet han ble ført inn blant kirkelærerne av pave Klemens XI (1700-21), som den viktigste kristne forfatter mellom de hellige Augustin av Hippo og Thomas Aquinas. I vårt århundre (1931) ble også den hellige Albert den Store opphøyd til kirkelærer på samme måte uten å være formelt helligkåret på forhånd.
Anselms festdag er 21. april, mens hans translasjonsfest i Canterbury er 7. april. I gamle nordiske kalendere var han oppført under 5. juli. I kunsten fremstilles han som en erkebiskop eller benediktinermunk (abbed) med bok eller skrivetavle, som formaner en misdeder eller har en visjon av Maria. Hans attributt er et skip, som representerer Kirkens åndelige uavhengighet.
Kilder: Attwater (dk), Attwater/John, Attwater/Cumming, Farmer, Jones, Bentley, Lodi, Butler, Butler (IV), Benedictines, Delaney, Bunson, Green 2, Engelhart, Schnitzler, Schauber/Schindler, Melchers, Gorys, Dammer/Adam, Index99, KIR, CE, CSO, Patron Saints SQPN, britannia.com, Infocatho, Bautz, Heiligenlexikon, santiebeati.it - Kompilasjon og oversettelse: p. Per Einar Odden