Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Hervé (c 521–c 556) Hermit, Abbot, Musician and singer, miracle-worker, blind from birth – also known as Erveo, Harvey, Herveus, Hervues, Hervé, Houarniaule, Huva – born in Guimiliau, Brittany, France or unknown location in Wales (sources vary) and died in c 556 to c 575 (sources vary) of natural causes. Patronages – the blind, bards, musician, invoked against eye problems and disease, invoked to cure sick horses. St Hervé, along with Saint Ives, is one of the most venerated of the Breton saints and was considered a Saint during his lifetime and ever since.
Hervé was the son of a bard (a professional singer and story-teller) at the Court of one of Clovis’ successors, King Childebert 1. He would have been also the nephew of the Bourg-Blanc’s hermit Saint Urfold or, according to other sources, of Saint Rivoaré, the Patron Saint of Lanrivoaré. His father died while Hervé was still an infant.
His mother entrusted him to the care of his uncle, Urzel, a Monk, who had opened a school in Plouvein. Saint Hervé, like his uncle, would have lived in poverty and humility all his life. In time, Hervé was made superior of the school and small Monastery. He later moved the Monastery to Lanhorneau. St Hervé’s Hermitage itself, consisted of three elements – the ruins of a Chapel, a sacred fountain and a stone hut which would have been the cell of the saint, see below.
Hervé died around 556 and was celebrated for his holiness, powerful preaching and love of music. He is honoured as one of the Patron Saints of the blind.
St Hervé is said to have had a special power over animals. It is related that he had a domesticated wolf as a pet. The dog guiding him having been devoured by a wolf, the hermit ordered the wild animal to take the role of his dog. One day Hervé’s wolf attacked and killed the ox that the Monks relied on to pull the plough in the fields. Hervé preached a powerful sermon and the wolf was so contrite it asked to be allowed to serve in place of the ox. For this reason, Hervé is often depicted with a wolf wearing a yoke.
He was joined by disciples and refused any Ordination or earthly honour, accepting only to be consecrated as an Exorcist. He died in 556 and was buried at Lanhouarneau, Brittany, France. Today there is a town in honour of him.