AELRED OF RIEVAULX — philosopher, theologian, historian, b. around 1109 in Hexham, d. 1167 in Rievaulx.
He began his studies in the Benedictine cloister in Durham. He was schooled together with Edward, the son of the Scottish King David I. Aelred performed the function of royal steward and envoy. At the age of 24, he entered the Cistercian order and in 1147 became Abbot of Rievaulx.
He was the author of many historical, theological and philosophical works (his complete works are published in: Aelredi Rievallensis Opera Omnia, ed. A. Hoste, C.H. Talbot, I-II, Turnholt 1971; PL 195). In keeping with the spirit of the epoch, in his writings he drew abundantly upon the heritage of Christian thinkers, especially from the thought of St. Augustine, the Venerable Bede, St. Ambrose, and St. Bernard. Despite many influences, Aelred's works have an original character. Aelred's style is noteworthy for the way it breathes forth heartfelt love for man and God. His writings have a particular psychological and anthropological character, and he attempts to describe man's internal and spiritual experience.
Aelred's best known writings include the Speculum caritatis (1141-1142) written at the behest of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and De spirituali amicitia liber, which is a treatise on friendship written in the form of a dialogue and which represents an important position in the history of the concept of friendship; Aelred presents therein a Christian conception of friendship based on Cicero's work De amicitia. He was also the author of an unfinished treatise De anima based on St. Augustine's doctrine on the soul.
F. M. Powicke, Aelred of Rievaulx and his Biographer Walter Daniel, Mch, Lo 1922; É. Gilson, Sub umbris arborum, Mediaeval Studies (1952), 149-151; L. Bouyer, La spiritualité de Cîteaux, P 1955; H. Costello, The Mirror of Charity, St. Aelred thee Sabbaths, Doctrine and Life 17 (1967), 554-564; Ch. Dumont, Le personnalisme communautaire d'Aelred de Rievaulx, Collextaneo Ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 39 (1974), 129-148; Aelred von Rieval. Über die geistliche Freundschaft, Triel 1978; P. M. Gasparotto, Aelred di Rievaulx. Lo specchio della carità, Siena 1985.