Today the Church honours St Anselm. We honour him at St Chrysostom’s in a stained glass window in the north aisle. Also nearby, in Victoria Park, he is the patron of St Anselm Hall, one of the halls of residence of Manchester University.
Anselm was born in Italy in about 1033, in 1078 he became the Abbot of Bec, in north France, and in 1093 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. He died on 21 April 1109.
Anselm experienced frustration and political conflict in his work as Archbishop. He bore it with patience and integrity. He has a foremost place among medieval theologians and thinkers, and was one of the most scholarly Archbishops of Canterbury. He placed an emphasis on the use of reason in faith. Perhaps his most famous saying is ‘fides quaerens intellectum’ – faith seeking understanding. Anselm calls us to have faith, first of all, but we must also seek a deeper understanding of God and the world.
Think about that. Think about your personal faith. What have you done recently to enrich your life by nurturing faith, and seeking understanding?
A Song of Anselm
Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you:
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children;
Often you weep over our sins and our pride:
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds:
in sickness you nurse us,
and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life:
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness:
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead:
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us:
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness:
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.