Ailred of Rievaulx  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Aelred (1110 – 12 January 1167) was an English Christian saint and writer. He served as Abbot of Rievaulx from 1147 until his death. His name is also translated as Aelred and, in some traditions, Eilred.


Aelred's works, private letters and his Life by Walter Daniel, another twelfth-century monk of Rievaulx, have led some scholars to infer from that he was homosexual. In On Spiritual Friendship, he writes:

"While I was still a schoolboy, the charm of my friends greatly captivated me, so that among the foibles and failings with which that age is fraught, my mind surrendered itself completely to emotion and devoted itself to love. Nothing seemed sweeter or nicer or more worthwhile than to love and be loved."

In writing to an anchoress in "Rule of Life for a Recluse", Aelred speaks of this as the time when she held on to her virtue and he lost his.

Sabine Baring-Gould says of this saint "he was much edified with the very looks of a holy monk, called Simon, who had despised high birth, an ample fortune, and all the advantages of mind and body to serve God in that penitential state."

However, Aelred appears to have openly rejected homosexuality in the Mirror of Charity. All of his works encourage virginity among the unmarried and chastity in marriage and widowhood and warn against any sexual activity outside of marriage; in all his works he treats same-sex and opposite-sex as dangerous to one's oath to celibacy whilst condemning the "unnatural relations" as a rejection of charity and the law (of God). At the same time, he was compassionate about human failings, criticised the absence of pastoral care for the Nun of Watton and her pregnancy while within a Gilbertine convent.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ailred of Rievaulx" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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