Collection of Letters: Detail
- Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury
To his lady and daughter beloved in God, Matilda, queen of the English: Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, sending the greeting and blessing of God, and his own, as far as he can, and faithful prayers with service.
Your Highness gave me great joy with your letter(1) insofar as you have given me good hope about yourself. For the humble acceptance of disapproval and admonition is usually followed by hope of improvement.(2) Therefore I give thanks to God who gives you the good will you indicated in your reply to me, and I give thanks to you that you maintain it with sweet affection. Wherefore I pray God that what he himself inspires in you in his mercy he may preserve and increase so that when your soul leaves your body it may be brought before his sight and receive from him the reward of eternal felicity.
If your prudence needed to be taught how you ought to live in order to please God I would strive to demonstrate this according to my ability. But since I am fully aware that by the grace of God, you can distinguish between good and evil through the understanding of your mind, this I ask, this I beseech, this I admonish: that the unfailing intention of your heart be that in all your actions, great and small, you rather choose what you consider pleases God more.
In that letter you demonstrated sufficiently with holy and sweet affection that you desire my return to England. But I do not see that he(3) in whose power my return chiefly rests — as far as it depends on a man — agrees in this matter with the will of God, and it would not be good for my soul to disagree with God's will. I fear that he may realize too late that he has gone astray from the right path, having despised God's counsel and having followed the advice of princes, which the Lord brings to nothing.(4) I am certain, however, that he will realize this one day.
May almighty God gladden your excellency and my lowliness one day by the sight of one another, according to his will, and may he multiply the gifts of his grace in you. Amen.(5)
Dominae et filiae in deo dilectae, MATHILDI, reginae Anglorum: ANSELMUS, archiepiscopus Cantuariae, salutem et benedictionem dei et suam, quantum potest, et fideles orationes cum servitio.
In litteris suis celsitudo vestra tantum me laetificavit, quantum de se bonam spem dedit. Solet enim esse certa spes correctionis humilis susceptio correptionis et monitionis. Gratias igitur ago deo, qui dat bonam voluntatem vobis, quam in responsione vestra mihi significastis, et gratias ago vobis, quia eam dulci affectu servatis. Unde oro deum, ut quod ipse vobis misericorditer inspirat, conservet et augeat, quatenus, cum anima vestra de corpore exiens ante conspectum eius praesentabitur, felicitatis aeternae praemium ab eo suscipiat.
Si vestra prudentia egeret doceri qualiter, ut deo placeretis, deberetis
vivere, studerem secundum posse meum hoc ostendere. Sed quoniam dei gratia
vos mentis intellectu inter bonum et malum non ignoro discernere, hoc rogo, hoc precor, hoc moneo, ut hoc sit vestri cordis indeficiens propositum, quatenus in omnibus actibus vestris, magnis et parvis, hoc potius eligatis, quod magis deo placere probatis.
Satis pio et dulci affectu in eisdem litteris significastis vos meum in Angliam reditum desiderare. Verum neque ego video illum, in cuius potestate maxime est reditus meus — quantum ad hominem pertinet --, in hoc voluntati dei concordare, nec animae meae expedit ab ea discordare. Et timeo ne tarde intelligat se a recta via deviasse, consilium dei spernendo, et consilia principum, quae dominus reprobat, sequendo. Certus tamen sum quia aliquando intelliget.
Omnipotens deus vestram excellentiam et meam parvitatem aliquando
de mutua visione secundum suam voluntatem laetificet, et in vobis gratiae
suae dona multiplicet. Amen.
Matilda has apparently corrected the problem referred to in the previous letter and Anselm acknowledges her ability to monitor her own actions.
(1) This letter is not preserved. (2) Anselm may be referring to his admonition in Ep 346. (3) Henry I, King of the English. (4) Ps 32:10, Anselm. is referring to members of the curia regis, see Epp 344, 348, 351, 352, 353, 430. (5) The translation is reprinted with the permission of the translator and the publisher, Cistercian Publications Inc. Editorial Offices, Institute of Cistercian Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. All rights are reserved; downloading and copying for any purpose other than private research is prohibited.
Sancti Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi, Opera Omnia, ed. F.S. Schmitt (Edinburgh: T. Nelson, 1946-63), ep.347, 5.285-86; translation and annotation from The Letters of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, trans. Walter Fröhlich, Cistercian Studies 142, 3v (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990-94), 3.77-78.