Anselm was born at Aosta, Piedmont in Italy to wealthy parents. He could see the Alpine Mountains from his home. As a child he was taught how to be holy and study well. When he was fifteen, Anselm tried to join a monastery in Italy but his father would not let him.
Then Anselm became sick. Soon after he got better, his mother died. He was still young and rich and clever and began to think only of having good times. He had forgotten God. But soon Anselm became bored and wanted something better, something more important.
He argued with his father and ran away to France. There he visited the holy Abbot Lanfranc of the famous monastery of Bec. Anselm became Lanfranc's very close friend and the abbot brought him to God. Then at the age of twenty-seven, Anselm decided to become a Benedictine monk.
Anselm was a warm-hearted man who loved his brother monks dearly. Even those who first disliked him soon became his friends. When he was forty-five years old he was made the abbot of Bec.
He finally had to leave Bec to become archbishop of Canterbury in England, but he told the monks that they would always live in his heart. The people of England loved and respected Anselm. But King William II treated him badly.
Anselm had to leave the country and flee into exile in 1097 and again in 1103. King William even refused to let Anselm go to Rome to see the pope for advice. But Anselm went anyway. He stayed with the pope until the king died. Then he went back to his parish in England.
Even though he had many duties that kept him very busy, St. Anselm always found time to write important books of philosophy and theology. He also wrote down the many wonderful instructions he had given the monks about God.
They were very happy about that. He used to say: "Would you like to know the secret of being happy in the monastery? Forget the world and be happy to forget it. The monastery is a real heaven on earth for those who live only for Jesus."
St. Anselm died on April 21, 1109. He was declared a great teacher or Doctor of the Church.