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St. Anselm

On April 21, the Catholic Church honors Saint Anselm, the 11th and 12th-century Benedictine monk and archbishop best known for his writings on Christ's atonement and the existence of God.In a general audience given on Sept. 23, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI remembered St. Anselm as “a monk with an intense spiritual life, an excellent teacher of the young, a theologian with an extraordinary capacity for speculation, a wise man of governance and an intransigent defender of the Church's freedom.� St. Anselm, the Pope said, stands out as “one of the eminent figures of the Middle Ages who was able to harmonize all these qualities, thanks to the profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and his action.�Anselm was born in Aosta, part of the Piedmont region of present-day Italy, around 1033. While his father provided little in the way of moral or religious influence, his mother was a notably devout woman and chose to send Anselm to a school run by the Benedictine order. The boy felt a profound religious calling during these years, spurred in part by a dream in which he met and conversed with God. His father, however, prevented him from becoming a monk at age 15. This disappointment was followed by a period of severe illness, as well as his mother's early death. Unable to join the monks, and tired of mistreatment by his father, Anselm left home and wandered throughout parts of France and Italy for three years. His life regained its direction in Normandy, where he met the Benedictine prior Lanfranc of Pavia and became his disciple.Lanfranc recognized his pupil's intellectual gifts and encouraged his vocation to religious life. Accepted into the order and ordained a priest at age 27, Anselm succeeded his teacher as prior in1063 when Lanfranc was called to become abbot of another monastery.Anselm became abbot of his own monastery in1079. During the previous decade the Normans had conquered England, and they sought to bring monks from Normandy to influence the Church in the country. Lanfranc became Archbishop of Canterbury, and asked Anselm to come and assist him.The period after Lanfranc's death, in the late 1080s, was a difficult time for the English Church. As part of his general mistreatment of the Church, King William Rufus refused to allow the appointment of a new archbishop. Anselm had gone back to his monastery, and did not want to return to England. In 1092, however, he was persuaded to do so. The following year, the king changed his mind and allowed Anselm to become Archbishop of Canterbury. But the monk was extremely reluctant to accept the charge, which would involve him in further struggles with the English crown in subsequent years.For a three-year period in the early 12th century, Anselm's insistence on the self-government of the Church – against the claims of the state to its administration and property – caused him to be exiled from England. But he was successful in his struggle, and returned to his archdiocese in 1106.In his last years, Anselm worked to reform the Church and continued his theological investigations – following the motto of “faith seeking understanding.� After his death in 1109, his influence on the subsequent course of theology led Pope Clement XI to name him a Doctor of the Church in 1720.

Apr. 21 Optional Memorial of St. Anselm, bishop & doctor, Opt. Mem.

St. Anselm (1033-1109) was born in Aosta, Italy, and died in Canterbuy, England. St. Anselm's services to the Church are principally the following: First, as Archbishop of Canterbury he defended the rights and liberties of the Church against the encroachments of the English kings, who plundered the Church's lands, impeded the Archbishop's communications with the Holy See, and claimed the right to invest prelates with ring and crosier, symbols of the Church's spiritual jurisdiction. Second, as a philosopher and theologian he developed a method of reasoning which prepared the way for the great thinkers of the Middle Ages. Third, he had a great devotion to Our Lady and was the first to establish the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the West.

Apr. 20 Monday of the Third Week of Easter (Optional Memorial of St. Beuno in Wales), Weekday

The Church in Wales is celebrating the feast of St. Beuno, one of its greatest saints. He was a wonder-worker and aristocrat, monk and master of monks, patriot, challenger of tyrants -- that was the medieval picture of the man which is reflected in his Life, and which survives, carved in stone on the fourteenth century pulpit of the Black Monks of Shrewsbury.

Apr. 19 Thursday of the Third Week of Easter, Weekday

Historically today is the feast of St. Leo IX, a cousin of the emperor Conrad the Salie, born in Alsace, and baptized Bruno. He was made bishop of Toul in 1026 and constrained to accept the papal office in 1048. He took his spiritual adviser, Hildebrand, the future Gregory VII, to Rome and began the reform of the Roman curia. Leo combated simony, condemned Berengarius, and strove to prevent the schism between the Eastern and the Western churches then being engineered by the emperor Michael Coerularius. While at Benevento, a city belonging to the Holy See, he was taken prisoner by the Normans. He was released, but shortly after died before the high altar in St. Peter's.

Apr. 18 Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter, Weekday

Historically today is the feast of St. Apollonius, the Apologist, a martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is called one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refuesed, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded.

Apr. 17 Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter, Weekday

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Ancetus, who was the tenth successor of St. Peter. He governed the Church from 155 to 166, years of great difficulty when Christianity in Rome had to face not only persecution by the emperors but also the heretical tendencies of the second century. St. Anicetus was visited in Rome by St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who came to discuss with him the date of Easter.

Apr. 16 Monday of the Third Week of Easter, Weekday

Although there are no saints on the Universal Calendar, today marks the historical feasts of St. Bernadette Soubirous and St. Benedict Joseph Labre.

Apr. 15 Third Sunday of Easter, Sunday

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:35-39)

Apr. 14 Saturday of the Second Week of Easter , Weekday

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Justin, martyr and also the commemoration of Sts. Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus, martyrs who died with St. Cecilia. St. Justin's feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on June 1.

Apr. 13 Optional Memorial of St. Martin I, Opt. Mem.

St. Martin was born in Todi, Italy. He was elected pope in 649 during the period of the last christological controversy. For his defense of Christ as true God and true man, he was exiled by the Byzantine emperor Constans II to Crimea where he died, broken by his sufferings.