Saint of the Day – 23 December – Saint Ivo of Chartres (c 1040-1115) Bishop of Chartres, France from 1090 until his death, Confessor, Reformer, Defender of the Faith, Lawyer, Canon Lawyer, Teacher and Theologian, Writer. Born in c 1040 at Beauvais, France as Yves and died on 23 December 1115 of natural causes. Patronage – Canonists, Canon Lawyers. Also known as – Yves, Yvo, Ives.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Chartres in France, Saint Ivo, Bishop, who re-established the Order of the Canons and did much work and wrote to promote harmony between the clergy and the civil powers and for the good of the Church.”
Ivo was born around 1040 near Beauvais (Rouen) to Ugo d’Auteuil and Ilmenberga, wealthy parents who gave him a good basic education, increased by the studies he continued at the University of Paris , already a great cultural centre at that time.
He continued his studies in theology in the Abbey of Le Bec in Normandy, where he met Saint Anselm of Canterbury, the great scholastic theologian. as a fellow student and as his teacher, the future Bishop, then a Monk, Lanfranc of Pavia, who became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070. Here he was Ordained as a Priest.
Ivo was then appointed Canon of Nesles in Picardy but after a few years he was recalled to Beauvais by Bishop Guido, who entrusted him with the direction of the newly founded Monastery of the Canons Regular of Saint-Quentin. Ivo became its guide from 1078 to 1090. Here Ivo established himself as one of the best teachers in France. St Quentin’s came to be known as a great school of theology. Ivo was skeptical of religious excess and always stressed moderation in practice.
He was about 50 years old when the clergy and faithful people of Chartres, where construction of the grandiose Gothic Cathedral would begin a few years later designated Ivo as their Bishop, replacing the deposed Godfrey accused of simony.
Goffred appealed to Rome but Pope Urban II ruled against him and confirmed the investiture of Ivo. His election to the See of Chartres was also confirmed by the King of France Philip I. At that point it was the Archbishop of Sens, Richer who opposed it, not having been consulted in the Roman trial against Godfrey. Ivo then, decided to go directly to the Pope, who, in the meantime, had had to leave Rome to take refuge in Capua, fleeing the army of the German Emperor Henry IV (1050 – 1106) engaged in the fight for investitures, already against the Pope Gregory VII his predecessor and it was in Capua, towards the end of 1090, that Pope Urban II Consecrated him Bishop of Chartres.
His strong faith, piety,and principles led to some troubles for him during his twenty-five year episcopacy at Chartres .The first years were marked by the clash with the French King Philip I, who had contracted an adulterous marriage with Bertranda of Montfort. Ivo opposed this and thus aroused the anger of the King who had him put in prison for many months. After his release, Ivo resumed his protests, both against the King and against the Bishops who were in favour of the adulterous relationship of the King and failed to defend Church doctrine. Finally, in 1095, Ivo resorted to Rome, so that the partisans of the King were rebuked and the King himself, was excommunicated. In this same year, Pope Urban II came to France to attend the Council of Clermont , where the foundations of the first Crusade were laid. Ivo was also present at this Council, as well as at that of Poitiers in 1100.
Bishop Ivo, continued the fight against Royal abuse, until in 1104. King Philip I separated from Bertranda and was re-admitted into the Catholic community by the new Pope Paschal II. In 1107 Ivo received Pope Paschal II in Chartres who was on a visit to France.
Ivo was always a staunch defender of Papal authority and a strenuous protagonist in the struggle between the Papacy and the Empire, particularly in regard to the investitures of Bishops, Ivo also had to enter into conflict with his Chapter, for his reforming ideas, a Chapter that was largely supported by King Louis VI the Successor of Philip. In 1114, a Papal Bull decreed in Ivo’s favour, confirming his stance and supporting the Church against the state.
Ivo died on 23 December 1115 in Chartres and was immediately raised to the Altars, particularly in the Dioceses of Beauvais and Chartres, which honoured and venerated him with great devotion. On 18 December 1570, Pope Pius V Canonised him and granted his Office to the Canons Regular and Pope Benedict XIV added his name to the Martyrology.
Ivo was a prolific writer but is most known for his canonical works:
the Decretum,, composed in 1094
the Panormia (in Latin and Greek) of the following year
the Tripartite composed between 1094 and 1096
All three compilations contain texts of the Holy Scriptures , letters of Popes, texts of Roman law, texts of the Fathers of the Church and finally, Canons of the Councils .
Twenty-four sermons are known , almost all pronounced in Synods and Councils, on dogmatic, disciplinary or liturgical topics and from these writings, his profound knowledge of the Sacred Scripture and of the liturgical texts is evident.. He always professed a great attachment to the teaching of the Church and everyone of his writings abounds with doctrinal citations. His fame was notable and the care with which his writings have been preserved testifies to the honour with which he is held.
There are also 288 letters from the saintly Bishop, full of canonical and theological consultations, administrative practices, interventions in the big business of his time, which allow us to know the progress of the Gregorian Reform, implemented by means of the episcopal competence and zeal that distinguished him and an insight into the history of the Church and of France in his time.
His works are replete with treatments of charity and dispensation in a pastoral manner regarding the Holy See. He believed that caritas was the solution for sin and not harsh punishment without contrition. This theme is most evident in his Prologus, which is most often compared to the teachings of the Church Fathers than those of the scholars of his day. Paul’s message of loving one’s fellow man as one would oneself, is particularly prevalent in Ivo’s works:
“He was called to teach. His lesson was love. It was all that mattered.“
It is also believed, that St Ivo’s teachings influenced the final agreement of the Concordat of Worms in 1122.