Appeared in Vol. XIV, No. 3

Saint Anselm’s decision to enter the monastery of Bec is a relatively unexamined aspect of his story. Eadmer, Anselm’s contemporary biographer, wrote a plausible and edifying explication of the selection; historians since the twelfth century have accepted it virtually without question. Yet Eadmer’s reasoning is oddly discordant when considered within the line of rational process that so clearly marks Anselm’s life and thought. In that context, the appeal of Bec assumes a very different character. Rather than a place to negate his pride, as Eadmer suggests, Bec becomes a singularly congenial vision of the approach to God, the sort of principled premise Anselm favored throughout his life. It must be considered that the tone of morti cation that is usually applied to Anselm’s selection should be complemented by the reality and recognition of a particularly fulling choice.

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