Antiquariat Hindrichs: Iconography, Liturgical Antiquities and Relics

Antiquariat Hindrichs: Iconography, Liturgical Antiquities and Relics Antiquariat Hindrichs specializes in Russian and Byzantine iconography and liturgical materials. We

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This lovely and perfectly wearable personal cross was manufacured by the lost wax method in bronze, and is highlighted b...

This lovely and perfectly wearable personal cross was manufacured by the lost wax method in bronze, and is highlighted by three colors of enamel. Peronal chest crosses of this variety have been cast from the previous generation's model for centuries; this 5 x 4 cm example has very little wear, and the center icon of the Mother of God and the infant Christ is fully recognizable.

$65 post paid, with a donation to go to the Orthodox Africa mission of Father Silouan Brown

Saint Ambrose of Milan and Saint Anselm of Canterbury!

Saint Ambrose of Milan and Saint Anselm of Canterbury!

First class relics of two extremely important Doctors of the Church, in an outstanding and attractive silver reliquary theca sealed with the personal seal of Engelbert Sterckx, 13th Archbishop of Mechelen and Primate of Belgium. This 175 year old reliquary theca is in superb condition, and was apparently made for a high-level presentation.

Saint Ambrose of Milan

Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose; c. 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was consular prefect of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of A***nism, and has been accused of fostering persecutions of A***ns, Jews, and pagans.

Traditionally, Ambrose is credited with promoting "antiphonal chant", a style of chanting in which one side of the choir responds alternately to the other, as well as with composing Veni redemptor gentium, an Advent hymn.

Ambrose was one of the four original doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on St. Augustine.

Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 AD and was raised in Trier. His father is sometimes identified with Aurelius Ambrosius, a praetorian prefect of Gaul; but some scholars identify his father as an official named Uranius who received an imperial constitution dated 3 February 339 AD (addressed in a brief extract from one of the three emperors ruling in 339, Constantinus, Constantius, or Constans, in the Theodosian Code, book XI.5).

His mother was a woman of intellect and piety. Ambrose's siblings, Satyrus (who is the subject of Ambrose's De excessu fratris Satyri) and Marcellina, are also venerated as saints. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint's symbology.

After the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his father's career. He was educated in Rome, studying literature, law, and rhetoric. Praetorian prefect Probus first gave him a place in the council and then in about 372 made him consular prefect or "Governor" of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan, which was then (beside Rome) the second capital in Italy.

Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a very popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West, he was a recognizable figure in the court of the Emperor Valentinian I. Ambrose never married.

Bishop of Milan

In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Nicene Church and A***ns. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an A***n, died, and the A***ns challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call "Ambrose, bishop!", which was taken up by the whole assembly.

Ambrose was known to be Nicene christian in belief, but also acceptable to A***ns due to the charity shown in theological matters in this regard. At first he energetically refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared: Ambrose was neither baptized nor formally trained in theology. Upon his appointment, Ambrose fled to a colleague's home seeking to hide. Upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, Ambrose's host gave him up. Within a week, he was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan.

As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land, making only provision for his sister Marcellina (who later became a nun), and committed the care of his family to his brother. This raised his popularity even further, giving him considerable political leverage over even the emperor. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of "The Goodness of Death".

According to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped A***nism in Milan. He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome. Using his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West, to his advantage, he studied the Old Testament and Greek authors like Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters. He applied this knowledge as preacher, concentrating especially on exegesis of the Old Testament, and his rhetorical abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who hitherto had thought poorly of Christian preachers.

In the confrontation with A***ns, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were contrary to the Nicene creed and thus to the officially defined orthodoxy. The A***ns appealed to many high level leaders and clergy in both the Western and Eastern empires. Although the western Emperor Gratian supported orthodoxy, the younger Valentinian II, who became his colleague in the Empire, adhered to the A***n creed. Ambrose did not sway the young prince's position. In the East, Emperor Theodosius I likewise professed the Nicene creed; but there were many adherents of A***nism throughout his dominions, especially among the higher clergy.

In this contested state of religious opinion, two leaders of the A***ns, bishops Palladius of Ratiaria and Secundianus of Singidunum, confident of numbers, prevailed upon Gratian to call a general council from all parts of the empire. This request appeared so equitable that he complied without hesitation. However, Ambrose feared the consequences and prevailed upon the emperor to have the matter determined by a council of the Western bishops. Accordingly, a synod composed of thirty-two bishops was held at Aquileia in the year 381. Ambrose was elected president and Palladius, being called upon to defend his opinions, declined. A vote was then taken, when Palladius and his associate Secundianus were deposed from their episcopal offices.

Nevertheless, the increasing strength of the A***ns proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385 or 386 the emperor and his mother Justina, along with a considerable number of clergy and laity, especially military, professed A***nism. They demanded two churches in Milan, one in the city (the Basilica of the Apostles), the other in the suburbs (St Victor's), to the A***ns. Ambrose refused and was required to answer for his conduct before the council. He went, his eloquence in defense of the Church reportedly overawing the ministers of Valentinian, so he was permitted to retire without making the surrender of the churches. The day following, when he was performing divine service in the basilica, the prefect of the city came to persuade him to give up at least the Portian basilica in the suburbs. As he still refused, certain deans or officers of the court were sent to take possession of the Portian basilica, by hanging up in it imperial escutcheons to prepare for the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter.

In spite of Imperial opposition, Bishop Ambrose declared:

If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

The imperial court was displeased with the religious principles of Ambrose, however his aid was soon solicited by the Emperor. When Magnus Maximus usurped the supreme power in Gaul, and was meditating a descent upon Italy, Valentinian sent Ambrose to dissuade him from the undertaking, and the embassy was successful.

A second later embassy was unsuccessful. The enemy entered Italy and Milan was taken. Justina and her son fled but Ambrose remained at his post and did good service to many of the sufferers by causing the plate of the church to be melted for their relief.

In 385 Ambrose, backed by Milan's populace, refused Valentinian II's imperial request to hand over the Portian basilica for the use of A***n troops. In 386 Justina and Valentinian received the A***n bishop Auxentius the younger, and Ambrose was again ordered to hand over a church in Milan for A***n usage. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves inside the church, and the imperial order was rescinded.

Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius was excommunicated by Ambrose for the massacre of 7,000 people at Thessalonica in 390, after the murder of the Roman governor there by rioters. Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt — Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance. Ambrose also forced Theodosius to retreat from compensating a Jewish community in Mesopotamia when a synagogue was burnt down by militant Christians. These incidents show the strong position of a bishop in the Western part of the empire, even when facing a strong emperor — the controversy of John Chrysostom with a much weaker emperor a few years later in Constantinople led to a crushing defeat of the bishop.

In 392, after the death of Valentinian II and the acclamation of Eugenius, Ambrose supplicated the emperor for the pardon of those who had supported Eugenius after Theodosius was eventually victorious.

Attitude towards Jews

In his treatise on Abraham, Ambrose warns against intermarriage with pagans, Jews, or heretics. In 388, Emperor Theodosius the Great was informed that a crowd of Christians, led by their bishop, had destroyed the synagogue at Callinicum on the Euphrates. He ordered the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the bishop. Ambrose wrote to him, pointing out that he was thereby "exposing the bishop to the danger of either acting against the truth or of death"; in the letter "the reasons given for the imperial rescript are met, especially by the plea that the Jews had burnt many churches". In the course of the letter Ambrose speaks of the clemency that the emperor had shown with regard to the burning of other buildings and then adds: "There is, then, no adequate cause for such a commotion, that the people should be so severely punished for the burning of a building, and much less since it is the burning of a synagogue, a home of unbelief, a house of impiety, a receptacle of folly, which God Himself has condemned. For thus we read, where the Lord our God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: 'And I will do to this house, which is called by My Name, wherein ye trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh, and I will cast you forth from My sight, as I cast forth your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim. And do not thou pray for that people, and do not thou ask mercy for them, and do not come near Me on their behalf, for I will not hear thee. Or seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah?' God forbids intercession to be made for those." In his exposition of Psalm 1, Ambrose says: "Virtues without faith are leaves, flourishing in appearance, but unproductive. How many pagans have mercy and sobriety but no fruit, because they do not attain their purpose! The leaves speedily fall at the wind's breath. Some Jews exhibit purity of life and much diligence and love of study, but bear no fruit and live like leaves."

Attitude towards pagans

Persecution of Paganism under the influence of Saint Ambrose

Under Ambrose's major influence, emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I carried on a persecution of Paganism. Under Ambrose's influence, Theodosius issued the 391 "Theodosian decrees," which with increasing intensity outlawed Pagan practises, and the Altar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.

Later years and death

In April 393 Arbogast, magister militum of the West and his puppet Emperor Eugenius marched into Italy to consolidate their position in regard to Theodosius I and his son, Honorius, whom Theodosius had appointed Augustus to govern the western portion of the empire. Arbogast and Eugenius courted Ambrose's support by very obliging letters; but before they arrived at Milan, he had retired to Bologna, where he assisted at the translation of the relics of SS. Vitalis and Agricola. From there he went to Florence, where he remained until Eugenius withdrew from Milan to meet Theodosius in the Battle of the Frigidus in early September 394.

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (April 4, 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose's body may still be viewed in the church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated — along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius.

Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal character at that period. But it must also be noted that he used several indirect means to obtain and support his authority with the people.

He was generous to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.


Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose's administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects.

Ambrose's intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia.

Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are." Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the "right" liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

One interpretation of Ambrose's writings is that he was a Christian universalist. It has been noted that Ambrose's theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists. One quotation cited in favor of this belief:

Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. 'Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,' for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.

One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (both for those in heaven and for those in hell). Several other works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example:

The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends.

Giving to the poor

Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.


The theological treatises of Ambrose of Milan would come to influence Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God.

The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human?

We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit.

Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin… But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore, only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped.

Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest (Zechariah). While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation.
Ambrose viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity.


In matters of exegesis he is, like Hilary, an Alexandrian. In dogma he follows Basil of Caesarea and other Greek authors, but nevertheless gives a distinctly Western cast to the speculations of which he treats. This is particularly manifest in the weightier emphasis which he lays upon human sin and divine grace, and in the place which he assigns to faith in the individual Christian life.

De fide ad Gratianum Augustum (On Faith, to Gratian Augustus)

De Officiis Ministrorum (On the Offices of Ministers, an ecclesiastical handbook modeled on Cicero's De Officiis.)

De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Ghost)
De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento (On the Sacrament of the Incarnation of the Lord)

De mysteriis (On the Mysteries)
Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam (Commentary on the Gospel according to Luke)

Ethical works: De bono mortis (Death as a Good); De fuga saeculi (Flight From the World); De institutione virginis et sanctae Mariae virginitate perpetua ad Eusebium (On the Birth of the Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary); De Nabuthae (On Naboth); De paenitentia (On Repentance); De paradiso (On Paradise); De sacramentis (On the Sacraments); De viduis (On Widows); De virginibus (On Virgins); De virginitate (On Virginity); Exhortatio virginitatis (Exhortation to Virginity); De sacramento regenerationis sive de philosophia (On the Sacrament of Rebirth, or, On Philosophy [fragments])
Homiletic commentaries on the Old Testament: the Hexaemeron (Six Days of Creation); De Helia et ieiunio (On Elijah and Fasting); De Iacob et vita beata (On Jacob and the Happy Life); De Abraham; De Cain et Abel; De Ioseph (Joseph); De Isaac vel anima (On Isaac, or The Soul); De Noe (Noah); De interpellatione Iob et David (On the Prayer of Job and David); De patriarchis (On the Patriarchs); De Tobia (Tobit); Explanatio psalmorum (Explanation of the Psalms); Explanatio symboli (Commentary on the Symbol).
De obitu Theodosii; De obitu Valentiniani; De excessu fratris Satyri (funeral orations)
91 letters
A collection of hymns on the Creation of the Universe.

Fragments of sermons

Ambrosian Hymnography
Ambrose is traditionally credited but not actually known to have composed any of the repertory of Ambrosian chant also known simply as "antiphonal chant", a method of chanting where one side of the choir alternately responds to the other. (The later pope St. Gregory I the Great is not known to have composed any Gregorian chant, the plainsong or "Romish chant".) However, Ambrosian chant was named in his honor due to his contributions to the music of the Church; he is credited with introducing hymnody from the Eastern Church into the West.

Catching the impulse from Hilary and confirmed in it by the success of A***n psalmody, Ambrose composed several original hymns as well, four of which still survive, along with music which may not have changed too much from the original melodies. Each of these hymns has eight four-line stanzas and is written in strict iambic dimeter (that is 2 x 2 iambs). Marked by dignified simplicity, they served as a fruitful model for later times.

Deus Creator Omnium
Aeterne rerum conditor
Jam surgit hora tertia
Jam Christus astra ascenderat
Veni redemptor gentium (a Christmas hymn)

In his writings, Ambrose refers only to the performance of psalms, in which solo singing of psalm verses alternated with a congregational refrain called an antiphon.

St. Ambrose was also traditionally credited with composing the hymn Te Deum, which he is said to have composed when he baptised St. Augustine of Hippo, his celebrated convert.

Ambrose was Bishop of Milan at the time of Augustine's conversion, and is mentioned in Augustine's Confessions. It is commonly understood in the Christian Tradition that Ambrose baptized Augustine.


In a passage of Augustine's Confessions in which Augustine wonders why he could not share his burden with Ambrose, he makes a comment which bears on the history of celibacy:

Ambrose himself I esteemed a happy man, as the world counted happiness, because great personages held him in honor. Only his celibacy appeared to me a painful burden.

In this same passage of Augustine's Confessions is a curious anecdote which bears on the history of reading:

When [Ambrose] read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.

This is a celebrated passage in modern scholarly discussion. The practice of reading to oneself without vocalizing the text was less common in antiquity than it has since become. In a culture that set a high value on oratory and public performances of all kinds, in which the production of books was very labor-intensive, the majority of the population was illiterate, and where those with the leisure to enjoy literary works also had slaves to read for them, written texts were more likely to be seen as scripts for recitation than as vehicles of silent reflection. However, there is also evidence that silent reading did occur in antiquity and that it was not generally regarded as unusual.



Hexameron, De paradiso, De Cain, De Noe, De Abraham, De Isaac, De bono mortis – ed. C. Schenkl 1896, Vol. 32/1 (In Latin)
De Iacob, De Ioseph, De patriarchis, De fuga saeculi, De interpellatione Iob et David, De apologia prophetae David, De Helia, De Nabuthae, De Tobia – ed. C. Schenkl 1897, Vol. 32/2
Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam – ed. C. Schenkl 1902, Vol. 32/4
Expositio de psalmo CXVIII – ed. M. Petschenig 1913, Vol. 62; editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999
Explanatio super psalmos XII – ed. M. Petschenig 1919, Vol. 64; editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999
Explanatio symboli, De sacramentis, De mysteriis, De paenitentia, De excessu fratris Satyri, De obitu Valentiniani, De obitu Theodosii – ed. Otto Faller 1955, Vol. 73
De fide ad Gratianum Augustum – ed. Otto Faller 1962, Vol. 78
De spiritu sancto, De incarnationis dominicae sacramento – ed. Otto Faller 1964, Vol. 79
Epistulae et acta – ed. Otto Faller (Vol. 82/1: lib. 1-6, 1968); Otto Faller, M. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/2: lib. 7-9, 1982); M. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/3: lib. 10, epp. extra collectionem. gesta concilii Aquileiensis, 1990); Indices et addenda – comp. M. Zelzer, 1996, Vol. 82/4

English translations

H. Wace and P. Schaff, eds, A Select Library of Nicene and Post–Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd ser., x [Contains translations of De Officiis (under the title De Officiis Ministrorum), De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Spirit), De excessu fratris Satyri (On the Decease of His Brother Satyrus), Exposition of the Christian Faith, De mysteriis (Concerning Mysteries), De paenitentia (Concerning Repentance), De virginibus (Concerning Virgins), De viduis (Concerning Widows), and a selection of letters]

St. Ambrose "On the mysteries" and the treatise on the sacraments by an unknown author, translated by T Thompson, (London: SPCK, 1919) [translations of De sacramentis and De mysteriis; rev edn published 1950]

S. Ambrosii De Nabuthae: a commentary, translated by Martin McGuire, (Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America, 1927) [translation of On Naboth]

S. Ambrosii De Helia et ieiunio: a commentary, with an introduction and translation, Sister Mary Joseph Aloysius Buck, (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 1929) [translation of On Elijah and Fasting]

S. Ambrosii De Tobia: a commentary, with an introduction and translation, Lois Miles Zucker, (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 1933) [translation of On Tobit]

Funeral orations, translated by LP McCauley et al., Fathers of the Church vol 22, (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953) [by Gregory of Nazianzus and Ambrose],

Letters, translated by Mary Melchior Beyenka, Fathers of the Church, vol 26, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1954) [Translation of letters 1-91]

Saint Ambrose on the sacraments, edited by Henry Chadwick, Studies in Eucharistic faith and practice 5, (London: AR Mowbray, 1960)

Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, translated by John J Savage, Fathers of the Church, vol 42, (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1961) [contains translations of Hexameron, De paradise, and De Cain et Abel]

Saint Ambrose: theological and dogmatic works, translated by Roy J. Deferrari, Fathers of the church vol 44, (Washington: Catholic University of American Press, 1963) [Contains translations of The mysteries, (De mysteriis) The holy spirit, (De Spiritu Sancto), The sacrament of the incarnation of Our Lord, (De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento), and The sacraments]

Seven exegetical works, translated by Michael McHugh, Fathers of the Church, vol 65, (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1972) [Contains translations of Isaac, or the soul, (De Isaac vel anima), Death as a good, (De bono mortis), Jacob and the happy life, (De Iacob et vita beata), Joseph, (De Ioseph), The patriarchs, (De patriarchis), Flight from the world, (De fuga saeculi), The prayer of Job and David, (De interpellatione Iob et David).]

Homilies of Saint Ambrose on Psalm 118, translated by Íde Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon Press, 1998) [translation of part of Explanatio psalmorum]
Ambrosian hymns, translated by Charles Kraszewski, (Lehman, PA: Libella Veritatis, 1999)

Commentary of Saint Ambrose on twelve psalms, translated by Íde M. Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon Press, 2000) [translations of Explanatio psalmorum on Psalms 1, 35-40, 43, 45, 47-49]

On Abraham, translated by Theodosia Tomkinson, (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2000) [translation of De Abraham]

De officiis, edited with an introduction, translation, and commentary by Ivor J Davidson, 2 vols, (Oxford: OUP, 2001) [contains both Latin and English text]
Commentary of Saint Ambrose on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, translated by Íde M. Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon, 2001) [translation of Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam]

Ambrose of Milan: political letters and speeches, translated with an introduction and notes by JHWG Liebschuetz, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005) [contains Book Ten of Ambrose's Letters, including the oration on the death of Theodosius I; Letters outside the Collection (Epistulae extra collectionem); Letter 30 to Magnus Maximus; The oration on the death of Valentinian II (De obitu Valentiniani).]

Several of Ambrose's works have recently been published in the bilingual Latin-German Fontes Christiani series (currently edited by Brepols).

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury (Latin: Anselmus Cantuariensis; c. 1033 – 21 April 1109), also called Anselm of Aosta (Italian: Anselmo d'Aosta) after his birthplace and Anselm of Bec (French: Anselme du Bec) after his monastery, was a Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. After his death, he was canonized as a saint; his feast day is 21 April.

Beginning at Bec, Anselm composed dialogues and treatises with a rational and philosophical approach, sometimes causing him to be credited as the founder of Scholasticism. Despite his lack of recognition in this field in his own time, Anselm is now famed as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God and of the satisfaction theory of atonement. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by a bull of Pope Clement XI in 1720.

As archbishop, he defended the church's interests in England amid the Investiture Controversy. For his resistance to the English kings William II and Henry I, he was exiled twice: once from 1097 to 1100 and then from 1105 to 1107. While in exile, he helped guide the Greek bishops of southern Italy to adopt Roman rites at the Council of Bari. He worked for the primacy of Canterbury over the bishops of York and Wales but, though at his death he appeared to have been successful, Pope Paschal II later reversed himself and restored York's independence.

Anselm was born in or around Aosta in Upper Burgundy sometime between April 1033 and April 1034. The area now forms part of the Republic of Italy, but Aosta had been part of the Carolingian Kingdom of Arles until the death of the childless Rudolph III in 1032. The Emperor and the Count of Blois then went to war over his succession. Humbert the White-Handed, count of Maurienne, so distinguished himself that he was granted a new county carved out of the secular holdings of the less helpful bishop of Aosta. Humbert's son Otto was subsequently permitted to inherit the extensive march of Susa through his wife Adelaide in preference to her uncle's families, who had supported the effort to establish an independent Kingdom of Italy under William the Great of Aquitaine. Otto and Adelaide's unified lands then controlled the most important passes in the western Alps and formed the county of Savoy whose dynasty would later rule the kingdoms of Sardinia and Italy.

Records during this period are scanty, but both sides of Anselm's immediate family appear to have been dispossessed by these decisions in favor of their extended relations. His father Gundulf was a Lombard noble, probably one of Adelaide's Arduinici uncles or cousins; his mother Ermenberga was almost certainly the granddaughter of Conrad the Peaceful, related both to the Anselmid bishops of Aosta and to the heirs of Henry II who had been passed over in favor of Conrad. The marriage was thus probably arranged for political reasons but was incapable of resisting Conrad's decrees after his successful annexation of Burgundy on 1 August 1034. (Bishop Burchard subsequently revolted against imperial control but was defeated; he was ultimately translated to Lyons.) Ermenberga appears to have been the wealthier of the two. Gundulf moved to his wife's town, where she held a palace, likely near the cathedral, along with a villa in the valley. Anselm's father is sometimes described as having a harsh and violent temper but contemporary accounts merely portray him as having been overgenerous or careless with his wealth; Anselm's patient and devoutly religious mother, meanwhile, made up for her husband's fault with her own prudent management of the family estates. In later life, there are records of three relations who visited Bec: Folceraldus, Haimo, and Rainaldus. The first repeatedly attempted to impose on Anselm's success but was rebuffed owing to his ties to another monastery; the latter two Anselm attempted in vain to persuade to join his community.

At the age of fifteen, Anselm desired to enter a monastery but, failing to obtain his father's consent, he was refused by the abbot. The illness he then suffered has been considered a psychosomatic effect of his disappointment, but upon his recovery he gave up his studies and for a time lived a carefree life.

Following the death of his mother, probably at the birth of his sister Richera, Anselm's father repented his earlier lifestyle but professed his new faith with a severity that the boy found likewise unbearable. Once Gundulf had entered a convent, Anselm, at age 23, left home with a single attendant, crossed the Alps, and wandered through Burgundy and France for three years. His countryman Lanfranc of Pavia was then prior of the Benedictine abbey of Bec; attracted by the fame of his fellow countryman, Anselm reached Normandy in 1059. After spending some time in Avranches, he returned the next year. His father having died, he consulted with Lanfranc as to whether to return to his estates and employ their income in providing alms or to renounce them, becoming a hermit or a monk at Bec or Cluny. Professing to fear his own bias, Lanfranc sent him to Maurilius, the archbishop of Rouen, who convinced him to enter the abbey as a novice at the age of 27. Probably in his first year, he wrote his first work on philosophy, a treatment of Latin paradoxes called the Grammarian. Over the next decade, the Rule of Saint Benedict reshaped his thought.

Lanfranc, Anselm, and Theobald were all priors at Bec before serving as primates over England.

Three years later, in 1063, Duke William summoned Lanfranc to serve as the abbot of his new abbey of St Stephen at Caen and the monks of Bec—with some dissenters at first on account of his youth—elected Anselm as his replacement. A notable opponent was a young monk named Osborne. Anselm overcame his hostility first by praising, indulging, and privileging him in all things despite his hostility and then, when his affection and trust were gained, gradually withdrawing all preference until he upheld the strictest obedience. Along similar lines, he remonstrated a neighboring abbot who complained that his charges were incorrigible despite being beaten "night and day". After fifteen years, in 1078, Anselm was unanimously elected as Bec's abbot following the death of its founder, the warrior-monk Herluin. He was consecrated by the Bishop of Évreux on 22 February 1079. The consecration was rushed in order to take advantage of the vacancy of the archbishopric of Rouen, the abbacy's superior. Had Anselm been consecrated by an archbishop, he would have been under pressure to profess his obedience, compromising Bec's financial and ecclesiastical independence.

Under Anselm's direction, Bec became the foremost seat of learning in Europe, attracting students from France, Italy, and elsewhere. During this time, he wrote the Monologion and Proslogion. He then composed a series of dialogues on the nature of truth, free will, and the fall of Satan. When the nominalist Roscelin attempted to appeal to the authority of Lanfranc and Anselm at his trial for the heresy of tritheism at Soissons in 1092, Anselm composed the first draft of De Fide Trinitatis as a rebuttal and as a defence of Trinitarianism and universals. The fame of the monastery grew not only from his intellectual achievements, however, but also from own good example and his loving, kindly method of discipline—particularly with the younger monks—and from his spirited defence of the abbey's independence from lay and archiepiscopal control, protecting it from the influence of both the new Archbishop of Rouen and the Earl of Leicester.

Following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, devoted lords had given the abbey extensive lands across the Channel. Anselm occasionally visited to oversee the monastery's property, to wait upon his sovereign William, and to visit Lanfranc, who had been installed as archbishop of Canterbury in 1070. He was respected by William the Conqueror and the good impression he made while in Canterbury made him the favorite of its cathedral chapter as a future successor to Lanfranc. Instead, upon the archbishop's death in 1089, King William II—William Rufus or William the Red—refused the appointment of any successor and appropriated the see's lands and revenues for himself. Fearing the difficulties that would attend being named to the position in opposition to the king, Anselm avoided journeying to England during this time. The gravely ill Hugh, Earl of Chester, finally lured him over with three pressing messages in 1092, seeking advice on how best to handle the establishment of a new monastery at St Werburgh's. Hugh was recovered by the time of Anselm's arrival, but he was occupied four or five months by his assistance. He then travelled to his former pupil Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster, and waited, apparently delayed by the need to assemble the donors of Bec's new lands in order to obtain royal approval of the grants.

At Christmas, William II pledged by the Holy Face of Lucca that neither Anselm nor any other would sit at Canterbury while he lived but in March he fell seriously ill at Alveston. Believing his sinful behavior was responsible, he summoned Anselm to hear his confession and administer last rites. He published a proclamation releasing his captives, discharging his debts, and promising to henceforth govern according to the law. On 6 March 1093, he further nominated Anselm to fill the vacancy at Canterbury, the clerics gathered at court acclaiming him, forcing the crozier into his hands, and bodily carrying him to a nearby church amid a Te Deum. Anselm tried to refuse on the grounds of age and ill-health for months and the monks of Bec refused to give him permission to leave them. Negotiations were handled by the recently restored Bishop William of Durham and Robert, count of Meulan. On 24 August, Anselm gave King William the conditions under which he would accept the position, which amounted to the agenda of the Gregorian Reform: the king would have to return the church lands which had been seized, accept his spiritual counsel, and foreswear the antipope Clement III in favour of Urban II. William Rufus was exceedingly reluctant to accept these conditions: he consented only to the first and, a few days afterwards, reneged on that, suspending preparations for Anselm's investiture.[citation needed] Public pressure forced William to return to Anselm and in the end they settled on a partial return of Canterbury's lands as his own concession. Anselm received dispensation from his duties in Normandy, did homage to William, and—on 25 September 1093—was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral. The same day, William II finally returned the lands of the see.

From the mid-8th century, it had become customary that metropolitan bishops could not be consecrated without a woolen pallium given or sent by the pope himself. Anselm insisted that he journey to Rome for this purpose but William would not permit it. Amid the Investiture Controversy, Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV had deposed each other twice; bishops loyal to Henry finally elected Guibert, archbishop of Ravenna, as a second pope. In France, Philip I had recognized Gregory and his successors Victor III and Urban II, but Guibert (as "Clement III") held Rome after 1084. William had not chosen a side and maintained his right to prevent the acknowledgement of either pope by an English subject prior to his choice. In the end, a ceremony was held to consecrate Anselm as archbishop on 4 December, without the pallium.

It has been argued whether Anselm's reluctance to take the see was sincere or not. Scholars such as Southern and Kent maintain Anselm's honest preference was to remain at Bec. Anselm had initially considered becoming a hermit and, naturally drawn to contemplation, he likely would have cared little for such a political office at the best of times and disliked it all the more amid his own troubled age. Against this, Vaughn notes that feigned reluctance to accept important positions was a common practice within the medieval church, as open eagerness risked earning a reputation as an ambitious careerist. She further notes that his approach improved his negotiating position and that he finally acted at the moment that gained him the greatest leverage in advancing the interests of his see and the reform movement within the church.[citation needed]

As archbishop, Anselm maintained his monastic ideals, including stewardship, prudence, and proper instruction, prayer and contemplation. Anselm continued to agitate for reform and the interests of Canterbury. As such, he repeatedly took advantage of expedient moments to press the English monarchy for concessions and support of the reform agenda. His principled opposition to royal prerogatives over the church, meanwhile, twice led to his exile from England.

The traditional view of historians has been to see Anselm as aligned with the papacy against lay authority and Anselm's term in office as the English theater of the Investiture Controversy begun by Pope Gregory VII and the emperor Henry IV. Vaughn has argued against this and seen Anselm as primarily concerned with the dignity of Canterbury rather than the Church at large, thus acting as a third pole in the controversy. By the time of a charter of c. 3 September 1101, he was styling himself "Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of Great Britain and Ireland and vicar of the High Pontiff Paschal". By the end of his life, he had proven successful, having freed Canterbury from submission to the English king, received papal recognition of the subservience of the wayward York and the Welsh bishops, and gained strong authority over the Irish bishops. He died before the Canterbury–York dispute was definitively settled, however, and Pope Honorius II finally found in favour of York instead.

Although the work was largely handled by Christ Church's priors Ernulf (1096–1107) and Conrad (1108–1126), Anselm's episcopate also saw the expansion of Canterbury Cathedral from Lanfranc's initial plans. The eastern end was demolished and an expanded choir placed over a large and well-decorated crypt, doubling the cathedral's length. The new choir formed a church unto itself with its own transepts and a semicircular ambulatory opening into three chapels.

Conflicts with William Rufus

Anselm's vision was of a universal Church with its own internal authority, which clashed with William II's desire for royal control over both church and state. One of Anselm's first conflicts with William came the very month he was consecrated. William II was preparing to wrest Normandy from his elder brother, Robert II, and needed funds. Anselm was among those expected to pay him. He offered £500 but William refused, encouraged by his courtiers to insist on 1000 as a kind of annates for Anselm's elevation to archbishop. Anselm not only refused, he further pressed the king to fill England's other vacant positions, permit bishops to meet freely in councils, and to allow Anselm to resume enforcement of canon law, particularly against incestuous marriages, until he was ordered to silence. When a group of bishops subsequently suggested that William might now settle for the original sum, Anselm replied that he had already given the money to the poor and "that he disdained to purchase his master's favour as he would a horse or ass". The king being told this, he replied Anselm's blessing for his invasion would not be needed as "I hated him before, I hate him now, and shall hate him still more hereafter". Withdrawing to Canterbury, Anselm began work on the Cur Deus Homo.

Upon William's return, Anselm insisted that he travel to the court of Urban II to secure the pallium that legitimized his office.On 25 February 1095, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of England met in a council at Rockingham to discuss the issue. The next day, William ordered the bishops not to treat Anselm as their primate or as Canterbury's archbishop, as he openly adhered to Urban. The bishops sided with the king, the Bishop of Durham presenting his case and even advising William to depose and exile Anselm.The nobles siding with Anselm, the conference ended in deadlock and the matter was postponed.[citation needed] Immediately following this, William secretly sent William Warelwast and Gerard to Italy, prevailing on Urban to send a legate bearing Canterbury's pallium. Walter, bishop of Albano, was chosen and negotiated in secret with William's representative, the Bishop of Durham. The king agreed to publicly support Urban's cause in exchange for acknowledgement of his rights to accept no legates without invitation and to block clerics from receiving or obeying papal letters without his approval. William's greatest desire was for Anselm to be removed from office. Walter said that "there was good reason to expect a successful issue in accordance with the king's wishes" but, upon William's open acknowledgement of Urban as pope, Walter steadfastly refused to depose the archbishop.[citation needed] William then tried to sell the pallium to others, failed, tried to extract a payment from Anselm for the pallium, but was again refused. William then tried to personally bestow the pallium to Anselm, an act connoting the church's subservience to the throne, and was again refused. In the end, the pallium was laid on the altar at Canterbury, whence Anselm took it on 10 June 1095.

The First Crusade was declared at the Council of Clermont in November. Despite his service for the king which earned him rough treatment from Anselm's biographer Eadmer, upon the grave illness of the Bishop of Durham in December, Anselm journeyed to console and bless him on his deathbed. Over the next two years, William opposed several of Anselm's efforts at reform—including his right to convene a council—but no overt dispute is known. However, in 1094, the Welsh had begun to recover their lands from the Marcher Lords and William's 1095 invasion had accomplished little; two larger forays were made in 1097 against Cadwgan in Powys and Gruffudd in Gwynedd. These were also unsuccessful and William was compelled to erect a series of border fortresses. He charged Anselm with having given him insufficient knights for the campaign and tried to fine him. In the face of William's refusal to fulfill his promise of church reform, Anselm resolved to proceed to Rome—where an army of French crusaders had finally installed Urban—in order to seek the counsel of the pope. William again denied him permission. The negotiations ended with Anselm being "given the choice of exile or total submission": if he left, William declared he would seize Canterbury and never again receive Anselm as archbishop; if he were to stay, William would impose his fine and force him to swear never again to appeal to the papacy.

Anselm chose to depart in October of 1097. Although Anselm retained his nominal title, William immediately seized the revenues of his bishopric and retained them til death. From Lyons, Anselm wrote to Urban, requesting that he be permitted to resign his office. Urban refused but commissioned him to prepare a defence of the Western doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit against representatives from the Greek Church. Anselm arrived in Rome by April and, according to his biographer Eadmer, lived beside the pope during the Siege of Capua in May. Count Roger's Saracen troops supposedly offered him food and other gifts but the count actively resisted the clerics' attempts to convert them to Catholicism.

At the Council of Bari in October, Anselm delivered his defence of the Filioque and the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist before 185 bishops. Although this is sometimes portrayed as a failed ecumenical dialogue, it is more likely that the "Greeks" present were the local bishops of Southern Italy, some of whom had been ruled by Constantinople as recently as 1071. The formal acts of the council have been lost and Eadmer's account of Anselm's speech principally consists of descriptions of the bishops' vestments, but Anselm later collected his arguments on the topic as De Processione Spiritus Sancti. Under pressure from their Norman lords, the Italian Greeks seem to have accepted papal supremacy and Anselm's theology. The council also condemned the Red King. Eadmer credited Anselm with restraining the pope from excommunicating him, although others attribute Urban's politic nature.

Anselm was present in a seat of honor at the Easter Council at St Peter's in Rome the next year. There, amid an outcry to address Anselm's situation, Urban renewed bans on lay investiture and on clerics doing homage. Anselm departed the next day, first for Schiavi—where he completed his work Cui Deus Homo—and then for Lyons.

Conflicts with Henry I

William Rufus was killed hunting in the New Forest on 2 August 1100. His brother Henry was present and moved quickly to secure the throne before the return of his elder brother Robert, duke of Normandy, from the First Crusade. Henry invited Anselm to return, pledging in his letter to submit himself to the archbishop's counsel. The cleric's support of Robert would have caused great trouble but Anselm returned before establishing any other terms than those offered by Henry. Once in England, Anselm was ordered by Henry to do homage for his Canterbury estates and to receive his investiture by ring and crozier anew. Despite having done so under William, the bishop refused to now violate canon law. Henry for his part refused to relinquish a right possessed by his predecessors and even sent an embassy to Pope Paschal II to present his case. Paschal reaffirmed Urban's bans to that mission and the one that followed it.

Meanwhile, Anselm publicly supported Henry against the claims and threatened invasion of his brother Robert Curthose. Anselm wooed wavering barons to the king's cause, emphasizing the religious nature of their oaths and duty of loyalty; he supported the deposition of Ranulf Flambard, the disloyal new bishop of Durham; and he threatened Robert with excommunication. The lack of popular support greeting his invasion near Portsmouth compelled Robert to accept the Treaty of Alton instead, renouncing his claims for an annual payment of 3000 marks.

Anselm held a council at Lambeth Palace which found that Henry's beloved Matilda had not technically become a nun and was thus eligible to wed and become queen. On Michaelmas in 1102, Anselm was finally able to convene a general church council at London, establishing the Gregorian Reform within England. The council prohibited marriage, concubinage, and drunkenness to all those in holy orders, condemned so**my and simony, and regulated clerical dress. Anselm also obtained a resolution against the British slave trade. Henry supported Anselm's reforms and his authority over the English church, but continued to assert his own authority over Anselm. Upon their return, the three bishops he had dispatched on his second delegation to the pope claimed—in defiance of Paschal's sealed letter to Anselm, his public acts, and the testimony of the two monks who had accompanied them—that the pontiff had been receptive to Henry's counsel and secretly approved of Anselm's submission to the crown.[99] In 1103, then, Anselm consented to journey himself to Rome, along with the king's envoy William Warelwast. Anselm supposedly travelled in order to argue the king's case for a dispensation but, in response to this third mission, Paschal fully excommunicated the bishops who had accepted investment from Henry, though sparing the king himself.

After this ruling, Anselm received a letter forbidding his return and withdrew to Lyons to await Paschal's response. On 26 March 1105, Paschal again excommunicated prelates who had accepted investment from Henry and the advisors responsible, this time including Robert de Beaumont, Henry's chief advisor. He further finally threatened Henry with the same; in April, Anselm sent messages to the king directly and through his sister Adela expressing his own willingness to excommunicate Henry. This was probably a negotiation tactic but it came at a critical period in Henry's reign and it worked: a meeting was arranged and a compromise concluded at Laigle on 22 July 1105. Henry would forsake lay investiture if Anselm obtained Paschal's permission for clerics to do homage for their lands; Henry's bishops' and counselors' excommunications were to be lifted provided they advise him to obey the papacy (Anselm performed this act on his own authority and latter had to answer for it to Paschal); the revenues of Canterbury would be returned to the archbishop; and priests would no longer be permitted to marry. Anselm insisted on the agreement's ratification by the pope before he would consent to return to England, but wrote to Paschal in favour of the deal, arguing that Henry's forsaking of lay investiture was a greater victory than the matter of homage. On 23 March 1106, Paschal wrote Anselm accepting the terms established at Laigle, although both clerics saw this as a temporary compromise and intended to continue pressing for reforms, including the ending of homage to lay authorities.

Even after this, Anselm refused to return to England. Henry travelled to Bec and met with him on 15 August 1106. Henry was forced to make further concessions. He restored to Canterbury all the churches that had been seized by William or during Anselm's exile, promising that nothing more would be taken from them and even providing Anselm with a security payment.[citation needed] Henry had initially taxed married clergy and, when their situation had been outlawed, had made up the lost revenue by controversially extending the tax over all churchmen. He now agreed that any prelate who had paid this would be exempt from taxation for three years. These compromises on Henry's part strengthened the rights of the Church against the king. Anselm returned to England before the new year.

In 1107, the Concordat of London formalized the agreements between the king and archbishop, Henry formally renouncing the right of English kings to invest the bishops of the church.[86] The remaining two years of Anselm's life were spent in the duties of his archbishopric.[86] He succeeded in getting Paschal to send the pallium for the archbishop of York to Canterbury, so that future archbishops-elect would have to profess obedience before receiving it.The incumbent archbishop Thomas II had received his own pallium directly and insisted on York's independence. From his deathbed, Anselm anathematized all who failed to recognize Canterbury's primacy over all the English church. This ultimately forced Henry to order Thomas to confess his obedience to Anselm's successor. On his deathbed, he announced himself content, except that he had a treatise in mind on the origin of the soul and did not know, once he was gone, if another was likely to compose it.

He died on Holy Wednesday, 21 April 1109. His remains were translated to Canterbury Cathedral and laid at the head of Lanfranc at his initial resting place to the south of the Altar of the Holy Trinity (now St Thomas's Chapel). During the church's reconstruction after the disastrous fire of the 1170s, his remains were relocated, although it is now uncertain where.

On 23 December 1752, Archbishop Herring was contacted by Count Perron, the Sardinian ambassador, on behalf of King Charles Emmanuel, who requested permission to translate Anselm's relics to Italy.[120] (Charles had been duke of Aosta during his minority.) Herring ordered his dean to look into the matter, saying that while "the parting with the rotten Remains of a Rebel to his King, a Slave to the Popedom, and an Enemy to the married Clergy (all this Anselm was)" would be no great matter, he likewise "should make no Conscience of palming on the Simpletons any other old Bishop with the Name of Anselm". The ambassador insisted on witnessing the excavation, however,[124] and resistance on the part of the prebendaries seems to have quieted the matter. They considered the state of the cathedral's crypts would have offended the sensibilities of a Catholic and that it was probable that Anselm had been removed to near the altar of SS Peter and Paul, whose side chapel to the right (i.e., south) of the high altar took Anselm's name following his canonization. At that time, his relics would presumably have been placed in a shrine and its contents "disposed of" during the Reformation. The ambassador's own investigation was of the opinion that Anselm's body had been confused with Archbishop Theobald's and likely remained entombed near the altar of the Virgin Mary, but in the uncertainty nothing further seems to have been done then or when inquiries were renewed in 1841.


Anselm has been called "the most luminous and penetrating intellect between St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas" and "the father of scholasticism", Scotus Erigena having employed more mysticism in his arguments.Anselm's works are considered philosophical as well as theological since they endeavor to render Christian tenets of faith, traditionally taken as a revealed truth, as a rational system. Anselm also studiously analyzed the language used in his subjects, carefully distinguishing the meaning of the terms employed from the verbal forms, which he found at times wholly inadequate. His worldview was broadly Neoplatonic, as it was reconciled with Christianity in the works of St Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius,with his understanding of Aristotelian logic gathered from the works of Boethius. He or the thinkers in northern France who shortly followed him—including Abelard, William of Conches, and Gilbert of Poitiers—inaugurated "one of the most brilliant periods of Western philosophy", innovating logic, semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and other areas of philosophical theology.

Anselm held that faith necessarily precedes reason, but that reason can expand upon faith: "And I do not seek to understand that I may believe but believe that I might understand. For this too I believe since, unless I first believe, I shall not understand". This is possibly drawn from Tractate XXIX of St Augustine's Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John: regarding John 7:14–18, Augustine counseled "Do not seek to understand in order to believe but believe that thou may understand". Anselm rephrased the idea repeatedly and Williams considered that his aptest motto was the original title of the Proslogion, "faith seeking understanding", which intended "an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God". Once the faith is held fast, however, he argued an attempt must be made to demonstrate its truth by means of reason: "To me, it seems to be negligence if, after confirmation in the faith, we do not study to understand that which we believe". Merely rational proofs are always, however, to be tested by scripture and he employs Biblical passages and "what we believe" (quod credimus) at times to raise problems or to present erroneous understandings, whose inconsistencies are then resolved by reason.

Stylistically, Anselm's treatises take two basic forms, dialogues and sustained meditations. In both, he strove to state the rational grounds for central aspects of Christian doctrines as a pedagogical exercise for his initial audience of fellow monks and correspondents. The subjects of Anselm's works were sometimes dictated by contemporary events, such as his speech at the Council of Bari or the need to refute his association with the thinking of Roscelin, but he intended for his books to form a unity, with his letters and latter works advising the reader to consult his other books for the arguments supporting various points in his reasoning. It seems to have been a recurring problem that early drafts of his works were copied and circulated without his permission.

While at Bec, Anselm composed:

De Grammatico
The Monologion
The Proslogion
De Veritate
De Libertate Arbitrii
De Casu Diaboli
De Fide Trinitatis, also known as De Incarnatione Verbi

While archbishop of Canterbury, he composed:

Cur Deus Homo
De Conceptu Virginali
De Processione Spiritus Sancti
De Sacrificio Azymi et Fermentati
De Sacramentis Ecclesiae
De Concordia


The Monologion (Latin: Monologium, "Monologue"), originally entitled A Monologue on the Reason for Faith (Monoloquium de Ratione Fidei) and sometimes also known as An Example of Meditation on the Reason for Faith (Exemplum Meditandi de Ratione Fidei), was written in 1075 and 1076. It follows St Augustine to such an extent that Gibson argues neither Boethius nor Anselm state anything which was not already dealt with in greater detail by Augustine's De Trinitate; Anselm even acknowledges his debt to that work in the Monologion’s prologue. However, he takes pains to present his reasons for belief in God without appeal to scriptural or patristic authority, using new and bold arguments. He attributes this style—and the book's existence—to the requests of his fellow monks that "nothing whatsoever in these matters should be made convincing by the authority of Scripture, but whatsoever... the necessity of reason would concisely prove".

In the first chapter, Anselm begins with a statement that anyone should be able to convince themselves of the existence of God through reason alone "if he is even moderately intelligent". He argues that many different things are known as "good", in many varying kinds and degrees. These must be understood as being judged relative to a single attribute of goodness. He then argues that goodness is itself very good and, further, is good through itself. As such, it must be the highest good and, further, "that which is supremely good is also supremely great. There is, therefore, some one thing that is supremely good and supremely great—in other words, supreme among all existing things." Chapter 2 follows a similar argument, while Chapter 3 argues that the "best and greatest and supreme among all existing things" must be responsible for the existence of all other things. Chapter 4 argues that there must be a highest level of dignity among existing things and that highest level must have a single member. "Therefore, there is a certain nature or substance or essence who through himself is good and great and through himself is what he is; through whom exists whatever truly is good or great or anything at all; and who is the supreme good, the supreme great thing, the supreme being or subsistent, that is, supreme among all existing things."The remaining chapters of the book are devoted to consideration of the attributes necessary to such a being.The Euthyphro dilemma, although not addressed by that name, is dealt with as a false dichotomy. God is taken to neither conform to nor invent the moral order but to embody it: in each case of his attributes, "God having that attribute is precisely that attribute itself".

A letter survives of Anselm responding to Lanfranc's criticism of the work. The elder cleric took exception to its lack of appeals to scripture and authority. The preface of the Proslogion records his own dissatisfaction with the Monologion’s arguments, since they are rooted in a posteriori evidence and inductive reasoning.

The Proslogion

The Proslogion (Latin: Proslogium, "Discourse"), originally entitled Faith Seeking Understanding (Fides Quaerens Intellectum) and then An Address on God's Existence (Alloquium de Dei Existentia), was written over the next two years (1077–1078). It is written in the form of an extended direct address to God. It grew out of his dissatisfaction with the Monologion's interlinking and contingent arguments. His "single argument that needed nothing but itself alone for proof, that would by itself be enough to show that God really exists" is commonly taken to be merely the second chapter of the work. In it, Anselm reasoned that even atheists can imagine a greatest being, having such attributes that nothing greater could exist (id quo nihil maius cogitari possit). However, if such a being's attributes did not include existence, a still greater being cou


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