Plaque depicting St Anselm on display at St Anselm's
Anselm once wrote:
"I do not seek to understand in order to believe,
I believe so that I may understand,
I know too that unless I believe
I cannot understand."
Anselm was born in Italy, in 1033, becoming a monk at the age of 26 when he joined a community at Bec in Normandy, France. He eventually became the abbot of this community and was famous for his theological writings, the prayers he wrote for lay use, and his letters.
At the age of 60 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held until his death at the age of 76. He argued over Church reform with the kings of England and was twice sent into exile. From 1107 he was given a free hand to carry out the reforms he believed were essential.
Anselm was a scholar-priest. One of his books, Cur Deus Homo (Why God became Human) established his reputation. His arguments for the existence of God and his interpretation of the crucifixion are still part of Christian thought.
He became a saint not by the decision of the church but by popular acclaim. In recognition of his influence, in 1720 he was declared a "Doctor of the Church". Anselm died on the Wednesday of Holy Week 1109 and is remembered each year on April 21.