St Anselm of Canterbury
Born in Aosta in Northern Italy, St Anselm was a Benedictine monk and, from 1093, Archbishop of Canterbury. His application of philosophy to theology, which took religious doctrine as a given but then sought to clarify that doctrine through the use of reason, was typical of the medieval period, and earned him the name “the Father of Scholasticism.” His famous dictum “fides quaerens intellectum” (“faith seeking understanding”) summarises this approach.
Anselm is credited with the invention of the ontological argument for God’s existence, which he set out in his Proslogium (“Discourse”). His Monologion (“Soliloquy”) also contains a version of the cosmological argument and a Platonic argument for the existence of a supreme Good that is the source of all other goodness.
Anselm is also remembered for his account of the Atonement in terms of satisfaction for wrongs committed against God’s majesty. This theory is set out in his Cur Deus Homo (“Why God Became Man”).