ST. IVO KERMARTIN (YVES HELORY)
St. Ivo (Yves), born at Kermartin, near Tréguier, Brittany on the 17th of October, 1253; was the son of Helori, lord of Kermartin. In 1267, Ivo was sent to the University of Paris, where he graduated in civil law. After his priestly ordination, he was first appointed to the parish of Tredrez in 1285 and, eight years later to Louannee, where he died.
As a lawyer and a Judge, he was a champion of the downtrodden and this won him the name, ‘the poor man’s advocate’. Not content with defending the poor in the church court, he also served as their attorney in civil-court trials. If they couldn’t afford court expenses, he would pay them out of his own pocket. If they lost and were jailed, he visited them in prison. In a day in which it was commonplace to bribe judges, he absolutely refused any such offers. Bringing certain cases to trial might have meant profit to him; but he preferred, if possible, to settle them out of court.
He was often invited to serve as arbitrator between contestants. He also established legal-aid confraternities to assist the poor. These fraternities eventually spread throughout France and Belgium, reached Rome, and even far-away Brazil. Some of them still continue in operation today. St. Ivo built a hospital in which he tended the sick with his own hands. He would often give the clothes off his back to beggars.
He died on May 19, 1303, at fifty years, and was canonized in 1347 by Pope Clement VI, his feast being kept on 19 May.
He is the Patron Saint of Lawyers and abandoned children.
There is a famous satiric Latin verse, dating from the middle ages, that contrasts the saintly Ivo with less honest attorneys. “St. Yves was a Breton, A lawyer but not a robber, To everybody’s amazement”.
PRAYER TO ST. IVO KERMARTIN
St Ivo, when you lived among us
You were the advocate of the poor
The defender of widows and orphans,
Provider for all the needy.
Listen today to our prayer!
Help us to love justice as you loved it!
Help us to know how to defend our rights
Without prejudice to others,
In seeking above all reconciliation and peace.
Rouse up defenders to plead the cause of the oppressed
So that “justice may be done in love”.
Give us a humble heart
Capable of resisting the attraction of riches,
Capable of feeling and sharing the misery of others.
You the model of priests
Who travelled through our fields, upsetting the crowds
By the fire of your word and the radiance of your life,
Obtain for our country the priests it needs!
St Ivo, pray for us!
Pray for those whom we love!
Pray for those whom we find it difficult to love!
( courtesy of the diocese of Saint-Brieuc and Tréguier, Brittany)