A letter from Anselm of Bec (of Canterbury) (by 1093)
To his most beloved lady, Countess Ida(1), outstanding in nobility of birth and conduct: Brother Anselm, servant of the servants of God living at Bec, together with his fellow-monks, wishing she may be steadfast to the end in the burning desire for God, that she may rejoice without end in the longed-for sight of God.
We would wish to give thanks to your reverend highness with our whole mind, but in relation to the magnitude of the kindness and good deeds you have lavished on us and on many for our sake, we cannot in any way adequately do so. Therefore we pray to him, for whose sake you did so many good deeds for us and for anyone else you could, that he may himself repay you according to the multitude of his riches, as we desire. Out of the abundance of such charity we exhort you not to grow weak in doing good(2), that in due time you may reap boundlessly.
Dom Richard(3), the bearer of this letter, promised us he would return to us, if God granted him this and from then on remain with us. We implore your reverence, therefore, to strengthen him, according to the understanding of your prudence, and in all things in which he may have need of your help to assist him for the sake of God's love and our own.
Greetings to our lord the Count, your husband, and to your children, and to yourself on our behalf, since we have no more trusty messenger from us to them than your fidelity.(4)
Dominae suae dilectissimae, generis et morum nobilitate clarissimae comitissae IDAE: frater ANSELMUS, servus servorum dei Becci commanentium, cum eisdem dominis suis, in flagranti desiderio dei usque in finem manere, de desiderato conspectu dei sine fine gaudere.
Gratias agere reverendae vestrae celsitudini tota mente vellemus, sed utique dignas secundum magnitudinem benevolentiae et beneficiorum, quae nobis et multis pro nobis impenditis, non valemus. Illum igitur, proper quem nobis et quibuscumque potestis tanta bona facitis, oramus, ut ipse vobis secundum multitudinem divitiarum suarum retribuat, sicut optamus. Ex abundantia tamen caritatis hortamur ut benefaciendo non deficiatis, quatenus tempore suo indeficienter metatis.
Domnus RICARDUS, lator huius epistolae, promisit nobis se ad nos, si deus illi concesserit, rediturum et nobiscum deinceps permansurum. Precamur igitur reverentiam vestram ut illum, secundum quod vestra scit prudentia, confortetis, et in omnibus in quibus vestro opus habebit auxilio, propter dei et nostrum amorem adiuvetis.
Dominum nostrum comitem, virum vestrum, et filios vestros, vos ipsa ex nostra parte, quia fideliorem nuntium de nobis ad illos non habemus, sicut pro vestris fidelibus salutate.
Anselm thanks the countess for all the good she has done to him and others for which he prays to God who alone can adequately reward her. He commends the bearer of the letter to her.
(1) See Ep.82.
(2) 2 th 3:13.
(3) See Ep 131.
(4) The translation is reproduced 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.114, 1.249; translation and annotation from The Letters of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, trans. Walter Frohlich, Cistercian Studies 96, 3v (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990-94), 1.274.