Golden Legend – Life of Saint Ives

detail of stained glass window of Saint Ivo of Kermartin; date unknown, artist unknown; church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, Étrelles, France; photographed on 28 May 2014 by GO69; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsHere followeth of Saint Ives.

Saint Ives was born in little Britain in the diocese of Trygvier, engendered or begotten of parents noble and catholic, and it was revealed to his mother in her sleep that he should be sanctified. In his first age he was of right good conditions, and right humbly and devoutly frequented the churches, hearing ententively the masses and the sermons. Much of his time he employed to study busily the holy letters, and read much curiously the lives of the saints, and pained himself much with all his power for to ensue them, the which by process of time was adorned of right great wisdom and renowned full of great science both in right civil and in canon law, and also in theology well lettered as it appeared sith, as well in contemplation and judgment, as giving counsel to the souls upon the fait of their conscience. For after that he had occupied and exercised much holily and devoutly the fait of advocacy in the bishop’s court of Trygvier, ever pleading without taking any salary the causes of the miserable and poor persons, exposing himself to it with his good gree, and not required by them for to defend their questions and differences, he was chosen into the office of the official, first in the court of the archdeacon of Rennes, and afterwards in the said court of the bishop of Trygvier, which lawfully, justly, and diligently accomplished all such things that be pertaining to the said office. He succoured them that were oppressed and that had had wrong, and to every each one rendered his own by right, without any acception or taking of money, nor none other good. The which then, called to the government and guiding of souls, bare ever with him the Bible and his breviary or portos, and so he, made and ordained in the order of priesthood, celebrated as every day, and heard much humbly, devoutly, and dilgently the confessions of his parishioners. He visited the sick folk without difference, and recomforted them right wisely, and taught to them the way of their salvation, and devoutly administered unto them the precious and blessed body of our Lord Jesu Christ, and for certain in all things appertaining to the cure of the people of our Lord Jesu Christ committed to him, he in all and over all accomplished duly and right worthily his mystery. He profited ever, going busily from virtue into virtue, and was pleasant both to God and to the world, insomuch that the folk were full loth to depart from his words, and from his fellowship, and much abashed were they that saw him for cause of his friendly manner and for wonderful holiness. What marvel he was of admirable or wonderful humility which he showed over all in habit or clothing, in deed, in words, going, coming, and being in divers companies. He spake ever to the folk both more and less sweetly, and full meekly looking on the earth, his hood before his face, that he should not be praised of the folk and to eschew all vanities. And by the space of fifteen years before his death he ne ware but coarse cloth, russet or white, such as poor folk of the country be accustomed to wear. He held the ewer and also the towel while the poor washed their hands, and after with his own hands administered to them the meat that they should eat, and setting himself on the ground ate with them of the said meat, that is to wit brown bread, and sometimes a little pottage. And among them that ate with him he had no prerogative, but the most deformed and most miserable he set nigh him. He lay all night on the ground and had for his bedding, for sheets, for coverlet, and for hanging, only a little straw. Ever before the celebration of his mass, ere he revested him, he kneeled down before the altar, and devoutly made his prayer, weeping and piteously sighing, and oft-times as he celebrated his mass plenty of tears fell from his eyes along his face. The humility of whom pleased much unto our Lord as once it appeared by a columbe or dove of marvellous splendour which openly was seen flying within the church of Trygvier about the altar, where this holy Saint Ives said mass. And certainly full patiently he suffered all injuries and blasphemies, for when men did mock him or said evil to him, he answered nothing, but having his thought on God sustained their evil words patiently and with great joy. A man he was of tranquillity, for he loved peace, and never he was moved to no strife, indignation, or ire for nothing that ever was done to him. He said no words tumelous or contumelious, ne other disordinate words. He was defensor, without dread, of the liberties of the church, whereof it happed that as a sergeant of the king’s had taken and led with him the bishop’s horse of Trygvier for the encheson of the centime of the goods of the foresaid bishop, Saint Ives then being in the office of official, virtuously took the said horse join the said sergeant and led him again unto the bishop’s place. And how be it that men deemed and weened that great evil or damage should fall therefor, as well to Saint Ives as to the church, seeing that the sergeant was about to have procured it, nevertheless no manner of damage came never thereof, neither to the saint nor to the church. Which thing was holden and reputed for a miracle, and not without cause attributed to the merits of the said Saint Ives, for it is believed and testified that he was chaste both of flesh and in thought all the time of his life, and also chaste both in words and of eyes, and lived always so honestly and so chastely that never no tokens of worldly manners appeared on him, but certainly ever he abhorred and cursed the sin of lechery, and he being accustomed to preach against the said sin, made many a person to flee from it. He was never found slothful ne negligent, but ever ready to orison or predication, or else he was studying in the holy scriptures or doing works of charity and pity. Ever he occupied himself in weal after the doctrine of the apostles. He profited him to God in all things privable and without confusion in his works. He treated to right the word of virtue and of truth, and ever eschewing all vain words, spake but little and with pain, save the words of God and of salvation perdurable. And he, preaching the word of God right well and boldly, brought oft them that heard him to compunction of heart and evermore unto tears, and he exercising and occupying him in this holy operation or work thereas he might be heard by the leave of the bishops and diocesans, ever going on foot, preached sometimes upon a day in four churches, much far from one another. And to the end that he should not leave the custom of his abstinence, he after this great labour returned fasting unto his house, and would never accord with no man to dine with him. He had the spirit of prophecy, for he prophesied that a recluse should be seen among men by the vice of covetise. The which thing happed not long after, for the meschant recluse leaving the way of salvation and of penitence, went out from his cell, and took a worldly and damnable way. This holy Saint Ives laboured ever to appease all discordance and strife after his power, and the folk which might not accord by his persuasion and admonishings, were called soon to concord after his orison by him made to God.

It may not be recounted, ne never it was seen in our time, the great charity, pity, and misericorde that he had towards the poor indigent and suffretous, towards the widows and to the poor children both father- and motherless all the time of his life. All that he received or might have, as well of the church as of his patrimony, he gave to them before said without any difference, when he was dwelling at Rennes, and promoted to the office of official there at the court of the archdeacon. Also ere he changed his manner of living, he made upon the great and solemn holidays plenty of meat to be dressed and ready for to eat, and at dinner-time he called and made to be called the poor folk to dinner, and to them administered meat with his own hands, and after, he ate with two poor children which for the love of our Lord Jesu Christ he sustained at school, for ever he was right courteous to help children, both father- and motherless, and as their father sent them to school, and with his own sustained them and paid also the salary to their masters. He revested right courteously the poor naked of our Lord. It happed once that a gown and a hood both of like cloth which he had do make for himself to wear, and so he taking greater care of the poor naked than of his own body, gave the said gown and hood to a poor man. He held hospitality indifferently for the poor pilgrims in a house which he did make for the nonce, to the which he administered both meat and drink, bed and fire for to warm them in winter. In wheresoever a place that he went the suffretous and poor, that ran to him from all sides, followed him, for all that he had was ready to their behoof as their own. He gave sudaries for to bury with the dead bodies, and with his own hands helped to bury them. A poor man once came against him, and he having as then nothing ready to give him, took his hood and gave it to the said poor man, and went home barehead. He chastised his flesh much sharply, for he was so accustomed to be in orisons and in prayers and to study, that the most part of the time he passed without sleep both day and night. If he were sore travailled by study, orisons, or going, that he as constrained must sleep, and when he must sleep, he slept on the earth, and instead of a pillow he laid under his head sometimes his book, and sometimes a stone. He ware ever the hair under his shirt, whiles that yet he was in the office of the official in the city of Trygvier. He used brown bread and porridge such as commonly use poor labourers, and none other meat he ne had, and to his drink used cold water, and there lived with such meat and drink by the space of eleven years, till he came to his death. He fasted eleven Lents and all the Advents of our Lord, and from the Ascension unto Pentecost, all ember days, all vigils of our Lady, and of the apostles, and all other days stablished by holy church for to fast, he fasted with bread and water. And above all this during the eleven years aforesaid, he fasted three days in the week with bread and water, that is to wit Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and on the other days he ate also but once a day, and used bread and pottage, such as followeth except, the Sundays, Christmasday, Easterday, Whitsunday, and All Hallows’ day, on which days he ate twice. His bread was rustical brown, made of barley or oats, his pottage was of great coles or of other herbs or beans, or of radish root savoured only with salt without any other liquor, sauf that sometimes he put in it a little flour and a little butter, and on Easterday above his accustomed pittance he ate two eggs. He never within the space of fourteen years before his death tasted of no wine, save only at mass after that he had taken the body and blood of our Lord, or else sometime when he dined with the bishop, for then within his water he put a little wine only for to change the colour. He fasted once by the space of seven days without any meat or drink, ever being in good health.

The foresaid Saint Ives lived fifty years or thereabout, and in his last sickness he ceased not to teach them that were about him, and he preached unto them of their salvation, and coming beneurely unto his last days, took humbly the sacraments of the body of our Lord and last unction, Iying on his noble bed beforesaid, adjousted always to the same with great instance of his friends, a little straw. Three days before his death he had on his hood instead of kerchief about his head, and had on his gown, and refusing all other things, he was covered with a little and bad coverlet, saying that he was not worthy to have any other parements on him. The pure and clean saint then, having the hair on his flesh, covered with his shirt and issuing out of this world in the year of grace thirteen hundred and three, the nineteenth day of May, that was on the Sunday after the Ascension of our Lord Jesu Christ went up unto heaven, and like as he had been asleep without any sign or token of whatsoever dolour he took the right beneurous rest of death. And who that could recount all the miracles done by him, howbeit that to none ne is possible but alone to him which can number or tell the multitude of stars, and imposeth to each one their names, but because that, to one right great inconvenience and dishonour were, if by sloth he refrained himself from uttering, and kept still such things that are and appertain to the praising and laud of our Lord, and namely thereas plenty and abundance of his praising is or should be, that the said miracles are infinite or without end, nevertheless we shall rehearse some of them.

Then as it is recorded in the book long since made and accomplished of his life and of his virtues, that at his invocation by vows and prayers, by some devoutly made unto God, and to the Saint in divers places were fourteen dead raised, reckoned always in the said number two children living within their mother’s womb and dead before their baptism which sithe received life. And at the invocation of the said Saint Ives ten demoniacs, mad folk, or filled with wicked spirits, were delivered from their forsenery or madness, and from all wicked spirits. Thirteen contracts, or filled with paralysis, were by the same restored in good health. Three blind were by him illumined. Divers folk, in ten places, all with their goods were kept and saved from drowning in the sea. One perfectly hydropic or filled with dropsy was entirely cured. Another that had the stone great as an egg, and the genitors as great as a man’s head, was restituted unto health. One condemned to be hanged fell three times from the gallows, and all whole was delivered and let go. A woman to whom the milk wanted within her paps were filled full of it. Things lost by divers persons and in divers places were found and recovered by miracles. Two dumb childien and divers others that had lost the use of the tongue were restituted of their speaking. Three or four women, with all their birth, were delivered from the peril of death. The fire taken in three divers places was quenched and put out, and both men, women, and children, and goods kept from burning without to be hurted, ne in no manner of wise damaged. A woman sore aggrieved with an axes took a little bread that before had been wet in water by the hands of the saint, ate it and recovered health. The saint himself giving foison alms, the corn multiplied in his garret, and the bread in his hand sometimes. Many sick folk were healed of divers sicknesses and dolours only to have touched his hood. A man dressing the wheel of his water-mill, on whom suddenly the water came from high rushing, and he besought the holy Saint Ives, and anon he was saved from drowning. On a time, as the said saint said mass, while he celebrated and held up the body of our Lord, a great resplendor appeared about it, which soon after the elevation was done, disappeared and vanished away. A post ordained to the work or making of a bridge, not convenable to the said work for fault of half a foot of length, after the prayer of the carpenters done unto the saint, was the said post found long enough and convenable to the foresaid work. In time of a great inundation or flowing, which covered the ways and places, the sign of the cross made with the said holy man’s hand on the water it ceased and ebbed away. The hood which he gave to a poor man, as above is said, and went barehead homeward, God that had himself in form or likeness of a poor man received the said hood, as it may be believed, sent to him again the said hood, whereof was great and marvellous miracle. On a time when he had given all his bread to poor folks, loaves of bread were brought to him enough to suffice him and the poor people in his fellowship withal, by a woman unknown, the which after her present delivered, vanished away and never was seen after. On another time, as he had received a poor man appearing right foul and disformed, and over foul in clothing, and had made him to eat and set hand at his own dish with him, this poor man departing and saying: God be with you and at your help, his gown that before was wonder foul, as it is said became so white, and of so great resplendor and shining, and his face so fair appeared and so bright, that all the house was replenished and filled with great light. The archbishop of Narbonne was vexed with a strong axes, and by the feebleness of his nature was reputed and holden as for dead of all them which about him were, for his eyes were shut in manner of a dead man. At the invocation or calling to Saint Ives made for the salue of the said archbishop by his parents and friends, with weepings, vows, devotions, was the foresaid archbishop through the merits of the saint restored unto life, sight and good health, by the grace and virtue of him of whom it is written that he enlumineth the eyes, giveth life, health and blessing, light, sapience, the which God, creator, enluminator, and saviour be thanked, praised and worshipped by all the siecle and siecles. Amen.