St. Anselm

The Beginning

Our church at Earls Barton was opened and blessed on 3 may 1968. There is a local connection in that there used to be a priory at Weedon which was founded from the Abbey of Bec, of which Anselm was the second Abbot. Although this priory no longer exists, the name is still preserved in the name Weedon Bec. Earls Barton is a very ancient English village, and it seemed appropriate that we should have an early English Saint as our patron. Although Anselm was Norman by birth, he was Archbishop of Canterbury for some sixteen years, until his death on April 21st, 1109, aged seventy-six.

Anselm was, first and foremost, a man of God. From his earliest years he desired to give his life to the service of God and it is not surprising that he entered the monastic life as soon as he was able. There he led a life of prayer, drawing closer to God, by study as well as by contemplation. He became an eminent theologian, writing many scholarly works concerning the nature and attributes of God, about the mysteries of the Incarnation and the most Holy Trinity and many other subjects.

St Anselm

It was this scholarly monk, then, who suddenly found himself following the footsteps of his friend Lanfranc to the See on Canterbury, to take over the reins of the Church in this country, at a time when the Normans were still trying to establish themselves by force as the rulers of this land.

It needed a man of outstanding courage to withstand the constant attentions of a sovereign such as William II, and after a few years, Anselm, in his humility, decided that he was making such little progress that he asked the Pope to relieve him of his office, and to be allowed to return to his monastery. But the Pope prevailed upon him to remain at his post to uphold the authority of the Church in matters spiritual.

This, then, is the character of our Saint – a man of deep spirituality, drawn close to God by prayer and a great knowledge and love of God. What greater example could we have in our own efforts to get nearer to God?