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Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

Touched by the Divine Friend


Public Domain

Cistercian Abbot (ca. 1110-1167)

His life

+ Aelred was born in Hexham, Northumbria, and received an excellent education. He spent time serving in the court of the Scottish king, Saint David, and eventually served as the High Steward of the Royal Household.

+ After a trip to England, Aelred returned to Scotland and entered the Cistercian monastery at Rievaulx; he never returned to the Scottish court.

+ In 1143, after having occupied several positions within his community, he was named abbot of Revesby. Four years later, he returned to Rievaulx to serve as abbot.

+ Known for his holiness and prudence, Saint Aelred died in the year 1167.

Worth knowing

In his most celebrated work, On Spiritual Friendship, Saint Aelred reflected: “Friendship is that virtue by which spirits are bound by ties of love and sweetness and out of many are made one.” As he reflects in this beautiful book, human friendships and love are a reflection of the divine and pure love we experience with God, the true Friend.

For reflection

“The one who abides in friendship ‘abides in God, and God in them’”—Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (paraphrase of 1 John 4:16)


God our Father,

You gave the blessed abbot Aelred

the grace of being all things to all people.

May we, after his example,

so spend ourselves in the service of our brothers and sisters

as to preserve the unity of the spirit

in the bond of peace.

We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Cistercian Sanctoral)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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