Franciscan Saints




16th May



St. Yves of Brittany


Confessor, Third Order

Patron of Brittany, Feast day May 19th,Ives was canonized remarkably fast, in 1347, only 44 years after his death. 



Yves, or Ivo, was born of noble parents in Brittany in 1253. The lessons his pious mother instilled in the heart of the boy through Christian training, preserved him amid the grave dangers to which he was exposed during his student years at Paris and Orleans.


To the study of theology Yves joined the study of civil and ecclesiastical law. He applied himself so diligently to his studies that his instructors and fellow students marvelled at his knowledge, but he was much more intent on acquiring virtue and piety. Not only did he go to church in the morning to attend holy Mass, but every evening he performed his devotions there. Besides studying his textbooks, he delighted in reading the lives of the saints, and the reading drew him very strongly to imitate them. He drank no wine, and his pastime consisted in visiting the sick in the hospitals.


After he had completed his studies, Saint Yves of Brittany was assigned to the diocese of Rennes, and later his bishop appointed him judge of the church court of his native diocese of Treguier. Although Yves in his humility did not desire it or ask for it, the bishop of Treguier also ordained him a priest and entrusted him with a parish.


As judge, the young priest-lawyer always let justice hold sway without regard to persons, and the wisdom of his decisions was remarkable. He did not derive this wisdom only from his learning, but he prayed often and long for enlightenment. Before making grave decisions, he always said a Mass in honor of the Holy Ghost. By preference he helped the poor, the widows, and the orphans to obtain justice, even when the duty of his office did not oblige him to help. As a son of St Francis, to whose Third Order he had been admitted, he felt particularly attracted to the poor, and interested himself in their needs with such zeal that he was called the attorney of the poor.


The high office with which Yves was entrusted and the honors which were accorded him because of it, were not to his taste. He begged the bishop until he yielded and allowed him to resign his office, for he wished to take personal care of his parish, which until then had been attended by an administrator.

 Yves arranged his household and his wardrobe in the simplest fashion. All his time and labour he devoted to his flock, to whom he was a true shepherd and father. He strove to uproot vices of long standing, especially usury and immorality, and by his zeal, charity, holy example, and fervent prayers, he succeeded. Here, too, the poor were his special friends. His home was an open guest-house for the poor, the blind, the lame, and the helpless of the entire vicinity. During a famine God almighty came to the assistance of his generosity by visible miracles. A flour bin which a domestic had found empty was found filled when Yves himself went with the domestic to examine it. Once he fed two hundred hungry persons with seven loaves of bread; at another time he fed twenty-four persons with a small loaf.


Saint Yves of Brittany's labors and his strict life sapped all his energy. He was hardly fifty years old when he felt his end nearing. Fortified with the last sacraments, he commended his soul to the hands of his Creator and died with a smile on May 19, 1303. His body was entombed in the cathedral of Treguier. The finest eulogy was tendered him by the poor, who flocked thither in great numbers and raised such lamentations that all present were deeply touched.


After many miracles at his grave, Pope Clement VI added Saint Yves of Brittany to the list of saints of the Catholic Church.


Ives was canonized remarkably fast, in 1347, only 44 years after his death.  He had obviously caught the imagination of his contemporaries, and he was also helped by some friends in high places:  requests for a canonization inquiry were supported not only by the Bishop of Treguier and the Duke of Brittany, but also by the French King and Queen and the masters and students of the University of Paris.  The Pope dispatched 2 bishops and an abbot, together with an apostolic notary, to conduct the inquiry, which took place in 1330.
The canonization inquiry was one of the first to be fully documented in writing, and has been a boon for historians.  Of the 243 witnesses who gave evidence, with the help of a Breton interpreter, 52 gave evidence about Ives' life, while the others testified about miracles attributed to his intercession.  Three cardinals then drew up a report.  The case then seems to have been suspended for 15 years, and it required a personal intervention - and indeed a payment of 3,000 florins - by the Duke Charles de Blois (himself declared Venerable by the Church in 1904) to reawaken it.  Bureaucratic oversight may not have been to blame - Le Goff comments that the Curia at the time was reluctant to canonize new saints .  Ives was finally canonized in 1347. 




Prayer of the Church


O God, who didst choose blessed Yves, Thy confessor, as a

distinguished minister unto the welfare of souls and the defence of

the poor, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may both imitate his charity

and be shielded by his intercession

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth and reigneth
with Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen



Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

Canonization: Melbourne Catholic Lawyers Association, Modified N.D., Canonization (referred from page about St. Yves),, Accessed 18 4 2013, <>


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