At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused
acceptance because of his father's opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in
religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the
monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously
Considered an original and independent thinker,
Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey
of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies.
During these years, at the community's request, Anselm began
publishing his theological works, comparable to those of St. Augustine. His best-known work is the
book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man").
At 60, against
his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was opposed at
first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate
with efforts to reform the Church.
Anselm finally went into
voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and
successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's insistence on investing
England's bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome.
His care and concern extended to the very poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.
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