Brother and Lover: Aelred of Rievaulx
Each age finds saints suited to its needs. In our own time Aelred of Rievaulx has received a great deal of scholarly, if not quite popular, attention. He has been called the "patron saint of friendship" and the "gay abbot of Rievaulx", though he was never canonized a saint of the universal church and his sexual identity will always remain a matter of controversy. Aelred lived, as the Chinese proverb holds, in interesting times. Born into an Anglo-Saxon family just forty-four years after the Norman Conquest, he was the son and grandson of priests at a time when it was becoming difficult to combine priesthood and marriage. The events of his life and the circumstances of his times make colorful reading, almost as colorful as Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe or Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose. Yet without ever passing up the chance to tell a good story, Brother and Lover devotes most of its attention to Aelred's personal impact and message, especially through his remarkable work, Spiritual Friendship. Aelred's belief in the power and possibilities of human love distinguish him from almost all his medieval predecessors. His emphasis on the importance of friendship in monastic life places him outside the mainstream of that tradition. In a period of anarchy, not too unlike our own, Aelred believed in love and lived out his love. As a brother and lover, he reaches out to us. Across the centuries he is not very far away.
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Ends and Beginnings
The Bodies of Saints
An Absent Mother
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