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Saint Yves

Saint Yves

Yves Hélory de Kermartin, A.K.A. Yves de Tréguier, or Erwan Helouri in Breton, known as Saint Yves, was probably born around 1253 at the manor of Kermartin in Minihy, in the Duchy of Brittany.

Born to a wealthy family, he was a priest, ecclesiastical judge, and lawyer.

After he died in 1303, he was canonized on May 19, 1347 by Pope Clement VI. Since then, the Church has celebrated him every year, on May 19. His body now rests in the Saint-Tugdual cathedral in Tréguier.

Patron of Brittany, lawyers, and all the professions of justice and law, Saint Yves is the reason for a feast day every year around May 19 on the occasion of the Great Pardon of Saint Yves Tréguier, which often brings together thousands of faithful with the Mass and a large procession, with banners and banners. The diocesan seminary of Rennes that trains future priests is also called Saint-Yves Seminary. 

So, Let's meet Saint Yves: let's discover his life, his influence and what he can still tell us today.

At the end of this reading on Saint Yves, you can continue to nourish yourself with holiness by discovering other holy figures in the Guide to Saints on Hozana

What can we learn from Saint Yves?

Saint Yves, the defender of justice and equity

Saint Yves is the patron of all the professions of justice and law, especially the profession of law. Each year, a delegation of lawyers attends the feast of Saint-Yves around May 19.

If Saint Yves is the patron of justice and equity, it is primarily because he was a lawyer and ecclesiastical judge. But it is obviously thanks to his strong sensitivity to defend all justice, whether in his role as judge, often representing the poor in court, or in denouncing and wanting to fix injustices himself.

Patron of lawyers, Yves was distinguished by his approach. His contemporaries described him as a man committed to justice in a holy and just way, "without making choices or differences between people" and making "all his efforts to bring [the parties] back to peace and harmony".

Yves, was seen as an example to follow, for several lawyers, who were committed to keeping their activity anchored in the service of Justice, an activity whose vocation is to prevent society from being subject to the "reign of raw power, pure arbitrarity, or simple utility" (P. RAYMANDE/S. RIALES, PUF PARIS 1996, Dictionnaire de philosophie politique).

Saint Yves, a life with and for the poor

Without comparing him to Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Yves sought to live poverty in his own way, after being inspired by Franciscans. He shared his possessions, such as his money (by not hesitating to sell his horse) and his clothes, with the poorest people. In addition, he regularly invited the poor to eat at his home. He also sheltered two orphans, even depriving himself to feed them.

Yves also lived in poverty, trying to live a life of asceticism. Thus, in his later years, he ate very little, feeding mainly on bread and vegetables, and drinking only water. Witnesses recount that he fasted on bread and water three days a week. Finally, he sometimes preferred the floor to a bed to sleep in.

He also used his skills as a lawyer by agreeing to represent the poor in court without asking for fees. In addition, he also pleaded with court officials to reduce costs.

To illustrate his dedication to the poor, Saint Yves is often depicted with a coinpurse in one hand, to remember the money he gave to the poor during his life.

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What can Saint Yves bring us today?

The importance of justice

The patron of justice and equity, Saint Yves can remind us of our prophetic office by virtue of baptism. Being a prophet can mean denouncing injustices in the world and in society, and being close to those who experience injustice.

To defend justice in the way of Saint Yves, it can also be to console the afflicted, those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, etc.

To deepen your understanding of Saint Yves

Books on Saint Yves

Discover below this book that can allow you to deepen your understanding of Saint Yves.

Jean-Christophe Cassard, Saint Yves de Tréguier: a 13th century saint

Praying with Saint Yves

Prayer to Saint Yves Hélory attributed to Dom Béranger:

"Mighty servant of God, to whom the voice of the Christian people has awarded the beautiful name of Advocate for the poor, listen to the humble prayer of the faithful who come today to place the cause of their salvation in your hands. You were dear to Christ, "our Advocate with the Father" (I Johan. II, I.), because you have been like him the protector of the weak against the oppressor (Psalm LXXI, 12-14.) ; You have attracted the merciful eyes of Mary, whom the holy Church calls "our Advocate"; now plead on our behalf in the presence of the son and the mother. Your charity so lively and so active here on earth is even more ardent in heaven; we claim it on this day when you left the land of exile for your homeland. So many wonders performed at your glorious tomb show enough that you have remained attentive and compassionate to the needs of the inhabitants of the earth. We ask you to raise our hearts to the resurrected Jesus whom your eyes now contemplate, and to whom you have constantly aspired here below. Obtain that we are freed like you from earthly lusts, and that we love justice as you have loved it. Inspire in the magistrates who have recourse to you the feeling that you yourself feel on your court, thinking of the supreme judiciary of Christ who must, on the last day, revise all the sentences of the earth. Stimulate defenders who plead the cause of the oppressed, not for a vain reputation of eloquence or for a worldly interest, but to pay tribute to the right. Always love, O great Yves, the noble land that has produced you for the Church and for heaven. So far your protection has kept her Catholic and faithful; in return for the fervent and patriotic worship with which she honors you, ask the Lord to preserve her faith, to preserve her from seduction, to keep her firm and loyal in a time when characters fail because they are less Christian. Brittany remained your heritage; do not let it fall. Amen!

Be sensitive to important causes with Hozana

Inspired strongly by Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Yves can help us rediscover Franciscan spirituality with this novena to Saint Francis of Assisi. Without forgetting that all the action towards the poor that Saint Yves was able to exercise was the fruit of prayer and contemplation with Christ.