St. IvesBorn at Kermartin, Brittany, Ives (modern spelling: Yves) in 1253, he was sent to the University of Paris in 1267 at the tender age of 14. He eventuallt obtained a degree in civil law. In 1277, he attended a canon law school in Orleans.

He returned to Brittany and sat as an ecclesiastic judge attached to the church at Rennes.

He joined the Franscicans and protested against Royal taxation.

In Curiosities of Law and Lawyers, Croake James wrote that  on a visit to the Pope in Rome, Ives remarked that while doctors had a patrons saint (St. Luke), lawyers had none. The Pope suggested that Ives walk once around St. John de Lateran church building blindfolded muttering a number of Ave Marias and grab hold of a sculpture who, when his eyes were uncovered, would be revealed as the patron saint of lawyers.

But Ives has managed to grab a firm hold onto a small statute of the devil which lay at the bottom of a statute of St. Michael.

The legend continues that Ives was so despondent of his choice that he died soon thereafter and when he went to heaven, St. Peter wouldn't let him in saying that there was but room for one Advocate in Heaven. Ives' response got him in and the title of patron saint for lawyers:

"Oh, but I am that honest lawyer who never took fees on both sides, nor pleaded a bad cause; nor did I ever set my neighbours together by the ears, nor lived by the sins of the people."

He was ordained and began a lifelong crusade to help the poor.

He died at Louannee in 1303 at the age of 50.

In 1347, Pope Clement VI canonized Ives. He was named the patron saint of lawyers and his adage was Santus Ivo erat Brito, advocatus et non latro, res miranda populo (Saint Ives of Brittany, lawyer and not a bandit, a thing to be marveled at by the people").

A formal feast day has been named for him (lawyers take note!): May 19.


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Saint Lawyer: Lawyers Who Were Sainted
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, The Law's Hall of Fame
  • James, C., Curiosities of Law and Lawyers (London: Sampson, Low, Marston and Company, 1926), p. 1-2
  • MacErlean, A. "St. Ives", in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910). Retrieved December 21, 2009 from
  • Painting is held by the National Gallery, London, made circa 1450, called "St Ivo". The National Gallery description: "This picture, with its portrait-like close-up view of a man reading, is unique in early Netherlandish painting. However, it is not really a portrait. A 16th-century inscription, now removed, described the man as St Ivo. As a lawyer, he was particularly active on behalf of the poor, but since the figure does not have the saint's specific attributes, this identification is not certain. The painting is very much in Rogier van der Weyden's style, but shows weaknesses in the drawing of the hands and the foreshortening of the face, and is therefore probably from his workshop."