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Anselm of Canterbury

1033 - 1109

Anselm was born in Aosta, Italy, around 1033, to a wealthy noble family and received a classical education, but chose a monastic life in Normandy. After William the Conqueror, a benefactor of Anselm’s monastery, gained sovereignty over England, Anselm was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by William’s son and successor. He applied his education and his capacity for words and ideas to theology, writing several important treatises which gained him recognition as ‘the Father of Scholasticism’. In particular, he posited the ‘ontological argument’ for God’s existence, based on the premise that the idea of a supreme being, in order to be supreme, must also be real and self-existent; he developed the concept of ‘substitutionary atonement’ in his famous treatise, Why Did God Become Man?; and he defended the addition of the phrase ‘and from the Son’ to the Nicene Creed’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s procession. He died in 1109.