Aelred joined the Cistercians at Rievaulx in Yorkshire at age 24 and soon was carrying diplomatic papers from the Archbishop to Rome. On his way home he stopped at the Cistercians’ mother house in Clairvaux, where he impressed the founder, St. Bernard, who encouraged him to write his first book, Mirror of Charity. In time he established a new Cistercian house at Revesby, and four years later was elected abbot of Rievaulx, where he wrote his best-known work, Spiritual Friendship, which takes as its model the relationship between Christ and the disciple he loved. By Aelred’s death in 1167 the abbey numbered 600 monks. (source unknown)

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