St Ailred of Rievaulx

  • Celebrated on

Saint Of The Day

Abbot and writer. St Ailred was the son of a priest, born in Hexham in 1110. After being educated at Durham he joined the household of David I, king of Scotland as a steward. In 1134 he joined the newly-founded abbey at Rievaulx. In spite of delicate health, he followed the austere Cistercian regime and became so respected in the community that he was sent to Rome as an envoy in 1142, over the disputed election of William of York. Later he became master of novices and in 1143 he became abbot of Revesby in Lincolnshire. Four years later he was recalled to be abbot of Rievaulx.

He was much loved as an abbot and under his rule the community thrived, with 500 lay brothers and 150 choir monks, making it the largest in England.

Ailred was known for his sensitivity and gentle holiness, with a strong emphasis on charity. It was said that he humanised the strict Cistercian monasticism. He had many friends and became a figure of national importance through his writing and preaching. Among his work is a treatise on friendship, lives of the saints of Hexham and sermons on Isaiah.

He died at Rievaulx in 1067 and, though never formally canonised, has been revered ever since. The Cistercians approved of his cult in 1476.

Share this saint