NovelsThe Flames of Prague
Biography – Anselm
Name: Anselm Johnson.
Anselm is named after St. Anselm, an Archbishop of Canterbury who died in 1109. Like the vast majority of people in the 13th century, he didn't have a last name growing up, but he eventually adopted "John's son" as a last name, simply because that's how everyone referred to him.
Date and Place of Birth: Summer 1219, Boughton-Under-Blean, (Kent) England
Anselm doesn't know the exact date of his birth, as he was abandoned as a baby on the doorstep of the church in Boughton. He was baptized in the church on August 4, 1219.
Parents: John and Cecilia
John was a vampire, although Anselm did not know this growing up; Cecilia was his wife and Yaechahre. Living in groups was not a legal requirement at the time, and for whatever reason, John chose to live alone (this tendency towards being a loaner later rubbed off on Anselm).
John was, of course, sterile, so he and Cecilia couldn’t have children of their own. When a dark-haired baby boy was abandoned at the local church a few years after they were married, Cecilia begged the priest for him. Glad to be free of having to raise a baby, the priest gave him to her. No one knew where the baby came from, but as the town was on the route between London and Canterbury, it was likely that he had been abandoned by a woman passing through.
When Anselm was six, they adopted a two year old girl who had been orphaned. She died, however, when she was twelve from small pox. This strongly affected Cecilia, who began to cycle through depressive periods, and she withdrew more into her faith. She died at the age of 49 after a lingering illness. John took his wife’s death hard, and he and Anselm (who was already a vampire by this time) ended up wandering around England for a while, before getting caught up in the Hundred Years’ War. John was killed fighting at Crecy in 1369.
Other Family Members: Micah, brother by declaration. (Here's the story of how they met.)
Religion: Anselm was raised Catholic, but is not currently practicing. He still has his faith and some of his habits (he does still cross himself when he mentions God or Christ by name), but he doesn’t go to church, for several reasons.
For one thing, the Catholic service that he grew up with no longer exists. Yes, he believes the Mass should be said in Latin. And chanted. Secondly, he doesn’t practice because he can’t receive communion. He painfully feels Leviticus 7:27—Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. Communion is not just about communing with God, but also with the people around you; it is an act of community (there’s a reason why the words are etymologically related). Because he can’t share in it, he feels as if he is cut off from his people. To go to church but not receive communion is to forever be an outsider.
Lastly, the Catholic Church long ago excommunicated vampires, declaring them to be unnatural and agents of the Devil. Even if Anselm went to church, the faith of his childhood says that it doesn’t make any difference—his efforts don’t count unless the excommunication is lifted. Anselm doesn’t really believe that he is predestined to go to Hell—namely because he doesn’t think he’s an agent of the Devil—but the ban does make him feel unwelcome in church—especially given that Joshua has approached a number of popes, asking them to lift the excommunication, only to have all of them turn him down or give him no answer one way or the other.
How He Was Turned: Anselm actually tells the story of his turning in the first book. In short, while he was felling a tree (in the summer of 1247, when he was approximately 28 years old), the head of his ax broke off and it came back and caught him on the inside of the left leg, cutting a deep gash and nicking the femoral artery. His father, who was with him at the time, turned him in order to save his life.
Interests and Hobbies: Anselm is a very meticulous person, and enjoys woodworking--especially woodworking in Shaker and traditional Japanese styles, which do not use nails or glue. His favorite television show is Jeopardy!, which he watches religiously every evening, and he likes classical music (and when there aren't any witnesses present--especially Micah--he likes to listen to Enya). He also enjoys reading the newspaper daily and working the crossword puzzle. He mainly reads non-fiction, with a preference to theology and philosophy.
His Nemesis: Mowing the yard.
Bet You Didn’t Know: Anselm’s first love was named “Agnes.” He didn’t have any romantic interests again until he met Marie during the Napoleonic Wars. They had a love affair for about a year, but when Anselm asked Marie to marry him, she turned him down, saying that he didn’t love her as much as he ought to, and that if they married, they’d only both end up miserable. Her rejection stung, and they parted ways on less than amicable terms, but over the years he got over it, and when they ran into each other at a Convening, they began talking again. After coming to the U.S. in the 1940’s, he started vacationing at her house in Charleston once every year or two and they became good friends.
The Quotable Vampire: "Micah, you're so full of shit, you squish when you walk."
(Image is of actor James Caviezel.)
© 2012 by Keri Peardon. All rights reserved.
Web design by Keri Peardon.
Background for the website and the header is from Lilium medicinae by Bernardus de Gordonio, translated into Hebrew by Moses ben Shmaya de Castro in Escalona, Spain, January 11, 1466. The original manuscript is housed at the Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The female figure in the header is from the Manesse Codex, which is housed at the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany.