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About Our Patron

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Aelred was born in Hexham, England in 1109. This is only a generation or two after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 (Battle of Hastings). England was undergoing huge reforms and French culture was mixing with English at a rapid pace. The Sarum Rite was created for the Salisbury Cathedral, the Mass of the English until the Council of Trent in the 16th c. This Mass is what the Ordinariate Form of the Mass hearkens back to. This style of Mass is what would have formed Saint Aelred’s own life.

As a boy he became a page to the royal court in Scotland under St. Margaret, Queen of the Scots. He befriended her son David, later King David I, and became a shrewd steward. Aelred left at the age of 24 to become a Cistercian monk in Yorkshire, England. The Cistercians were relatively new and experiencing huge growth under Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard sent Aelred to England where he would eventually become an Abbot. At the command of St. Bernard, St. Aelred wrote his great work The Mirror of Charity, a reflection upon the imago dei as a mirror of God who is Charity. His works and charity merited Aelred the name “Bernard of the North” or “The English Saint Bernard.”

Aelred was known for his warmth and tenderness toward the young novices who had a hard time adapting to the Cistercian reforms. It was a time in which the Benedictines had separated physical practices from spiritual practices. The Cistercians returned monks to a strict following of the Benedictine Rule, restoring the importance of the body and labor to the spiritual life. Aelred assisted in this reform by being the Master of Novices. He then helped start a second abbey in Lincolnshire with the help of twelve other monks (the typical apostolic number for missions). Here he met Saint Gilbert of Sempringham.

Saint Aelred was made Abbot over Rievaulx and master over all Cistercians in England by the age of 37. As a major ecclesial figure, he tended to monasteries, gave spiritual direction to religious and secular figures, and even preached the homily at the translation of Saint Edward the Confessor’s relics. At a time when there was no “Private vs. Public” nor “Religious vs. Political” separation, an Abbot was also a force for secular peace. Aelred spent time negotiating with Henry II, even organizing a meeting between him and Pope Alexander III. He corresponded with Saint Thomas Becket, who would later be dispatched by King Henry II’s men at Canterbury Cathedral. He wrote Spiritual Friendship probably around the age of 54 as a well-tempered Abbot who was father and friend to many young novices in his monastery. He also wrote history including the lineage of English Kings and hagiographies including The Life of David, King of the Scots, The Life of St. Ninian, The Life of St. Edward, On the Battle of the Standard, & Genealogy of the Kings of the English. Ailed by what some think were kidney stones, he took took a small tent where his young brethren would frequently come to see him and hear him speak of Christ. On his deathbed he requested Saint John's Gospel, Saint Augustine's Confessions, and some writings of Cicero. Saint Aelred died in the year 1166 AD at the age of 57.


Saint Peter
Patron of the Ordinariate


Our Lady of Walsingham
Patroness of the Ordinariate

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