Reading Anselm: Context and Criticism

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This Blogsite is dedicated to the work and legacy of Anselm of Aosta, Bec and Canterbury, who died in Canterbury on 21 April 1109.

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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Anselm's Letters to Women

Thanks to Eric Matthews for sending me this link to an on-line edition of Anselm's letters to women. The Latin text is that of Schmitt's Opera Omnia and the English translation is that of Walter Froehlich.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Recent Publications - April 2010 - Updated


J. Hopkins, 'How Not To Defend Anselm', January 2010.

G.B. Matthews & L.R. Baker, 'The ontological argument simplified' in Analysis, 70 (2010) 210-211.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Virgo mundo mirabilis

Translated by Ian Logan from a prayer of St Anselm to Our Lady in the 'Littlemore Anselm', Bodleian Library Ms. Auct. D.2.6.

Prayer to Saint Mary when the mind is beset with fear

Virgin, to the world, venerable,
Mother, to the human race, loveable,
Woman, to the angels, admirable,
Most holy Mary, by whose blessed virginity all chastity is consecrated,
By whose glorious motherhood all birth-giving is saved,
Great lady, to whom the joyful assembly of the just gives thanks,
To whom the terrified crowd of the guilty flees,
To you, Lady, so powerful and merciful,
I, a troubled sinner and undoubtedly more than a sinner, do fly.

Seeing myself, Lady, before the all powerful justice of a severe judge, and considering the unbearable vehemence of his anger,
I think of the enormity of my sins and of the fearsome nature of the torments that I deserve.
Therefore, most clement Lady, troubled as I am by so much horror, terrified by so much dread,
Whose intervention shall I implore more earnestly than that of her whose womb bore the reconciliation of the world?
From where shall I hope more confidently for assistance in necessity than from there where I know to have come forth atonement for the world?
Or whose intercession will obtain mercy for the guilty more easily, than she who nourished him, who is for all and for each the just punisher and the granter of mercy.
For, most blessed one, just as it is impossible that you should forget these merits, so unique to you, so necessary to us,
So, most gentle one, it is incredible that you would not show mercy to us wretched supplicants.
Indeed the world well knows, nor do we, the sinners of the world, allow it to be concealed in any way, O Lady, which son of man or rather the son of which man came to save what was lost.
Do you, then, my Lady, the mother of my hope, forget, out of hatred for me, what is so mercifully announced, so happily divulged to the world, and so lovingly embraced by it?
That good son of man came willingly to save the lost, so can the mother of God not attend to the cries of one who is lost?
That good son of man came to call the sinner to penitence, and does the mother of God despise the one who prays in penitence?
That good God, that gentle man, that merciful son of God, that tender son of man, came to seek the errant sinner, but do you, his good mother, the powerful mother of God, drive away the wretch whilst he prays?

For behold, O human virgin, the divine man was born of you that sinful man might be saved.
Behold in the presence of your good son and in the presence of his good mother, a sinful man confesses and does penance, sighs and prays.
Therefore, I beseech you, good Lord and good Lady,
I beseech you, tender son and tender mother,
I beseech you, by this very truth, by this unique hope of sinners,
That - just as you truly became her son and you his mother that the sinner might be saved - this sinner too may be absolved and cleansed, healed and saved.
May this your sinner prove in himself that truly you became a son and you a mother for the salvation of sinners,
And experience in himself that he belongs to you both.

For when I sinned against the son, I provoked the mother,
Nor did I offend the mother without injuring the son.
What then will you do, O sinner?
To whom will you fly, O sinner?
For who will reconcile me to the son, when the mother is my enemy?
Who will reconcile the mother to me, when the son is angered?
But even if you are both offended in the same way, are you not also both clement?
The guilty man may fly from the just God to the tender mother of the merciful God.
The guilty man may escape from the offended mother to the tender son of the benign mother.
The guilty man may rush from each to the other.
He may throw himself between the tender son and the tender mother.

Tender Lord, spare your mother’s servant.
Tender Lady, spare your son’s servant.
Good son, reconcile your mother to your servant.
Good mother, reconcile your servant to your son.
May I, who throw myself onto such immense tenderness, not throw myself onto such powerful severity.
Good son, good mother, may it not be in vain that I confess this truth about you,
May I not be ashamed for having hoped for this tenderness in you.
For I love the truth which I confess about you,
And I pray for the tenderness, which I hope for in you.

Say, Lord, judge of the world, whom you will spare,
Say, Lady, reconciler of the world, whom you will reconcile,
If you, Lord, should damn this little man, and you, Lady, should turn him away,
He who confesses your goodness with love, and his evil with grief.
If you, Lord, command, and you, Lady, consent
To the torments which torture the sinner, who hates himself and beseeches you,
If hell should consume the guilty man who accuses himself and prays to you;
If the infernal regions should devour the poor man who despairs of himself and hopes in you,
Then, unique Saviour, say whom you will save,
And mother of salvation, say for whom you will pray,

God, who became the son of a woman out of mercy,
Woman, who became the mother of God out of mercy,
Either have mercy on the wretched - You, Lord, by sparing him and you, Lady, by interceding for him -
Or reveal to whom I may flee, who is more merciful,
And show in whom I may put my trust more certainly.
For if, or rather because, my iniquity is so great and my faith so small, my love so tepid, my prayer so insipid, my satisfaction so imperfect,
That I deserve neither the forgiveness of my offences nor the grace of salvation,
It is for this, it is for this very reason that I pray that,
in so far as you see my merits are not enough,
you will not chose to remove your mercies from me.
So I pray, hear me.
I pray that on account of yourselves not on account of me
Through the tenderness which flows forth from you,
Through the power in which you abound,
That I may escape the deserved sorrows of the damned
And enter into the joy of the blessed,
Praising you, God, who are blessed and above all praise for ever and ever.