Born in Hexham in the North East of England in 1110. He came from a family whose members were noted for their learning, and had noble ties. Aelred was educated at the court of King David I of Scotland, and served as steward of the king’s table.

During this time, he read Cicero’s On Friendship, which had a lasting influence. At the age of twenty four, he entered the Cistercian Abbey at Rievaulx, and was elected as its Abbot in 1147. His most notable works include The Mirror of Charity, Dialogue on the Soul, and The Pastoral Prayer. Not surprisingly, Aelred’s outlook is a synthesis of his classical education and the Cistercian tradition. We find in his writings a strong influence of the thought of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in particular, the emphasis on love. His theology was formed in the crucible of monastic life, and it is in living this life that he developed a sense of the importance of experience in developing theological ideas, and for progress in the spiritual life

Image Details

Depiction of Saint Ailred (or Aelred), from an 1845 book “Lives of the English Saints” by John Henry Newman, Date, 1845.  File:Saint.Aelred.jpg – Wikimedia Commons. This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.

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