Saint of the Day – 23 May – Saint Ivo of Chartres (1040-1116) Bishop of Chartres from 1090 until his death, Confessor, renowned Scholar, Writer, Expert in Canon Law. Ivo was an important Canon Lawyer during the Investiture Crisis. He left extensive Canon writings as well as much correspondence and wonderful sermons. Born in 1040 in Beauvais, France and died on 23 December in 1116 of natural causes at Chartres. Also known as – Ives, Yves, or Yvo. Patronages – of Canon Lawyers, Lawyers. . He was Canonised on 18 December 1570 by St Pius V. Additional Memorials – 20 May and 23 December, on some Calendars.
Ivo was born of a noble family in Beauvais. From the neighbourhood of Beauvais, his native country, he went for his studies first to Paris and thence to the Abbey of Bee in Normandy, at the same time as St Anselm of Canterbury, to attend the lectures given by St Lanfranc.
In about 1080 he became, at the desire of his Bishop, Prior of the Canons of St-Quentin at Beauvais. He was then one of the best teachers in France and so prepared himself to infuse a new life into the celebrated schools of Chartres, of which City he was appointed Bishop in 1090, his predecessor, Geoffroy, having been deposed for simony.
His Episcopal government, ranged over a period of twenty-five years. No man, perhaps, is better portrayed in his writing than is Ivo in his letters and sermons – in both, he appears as a man always faithful to his duties, high-minded, full of zeal and piety, sound in his judgements, a keen jurist, straight-forward, mindful of others’ rights, devoted to the Papacy and to his country, at the same time, openly disapproving of all which he considered wrong and which IS wrong by Sacred Scripture. Very often, Ivo was consulted on Theological, Liturgical, Political and especially Canonical matters. Ivo was regarded as a moral and intellectual authority by many Prelates in northern Europe.
During his Episcopacy, he wrote the majority of his extant works, for which he later became famous and is considered among the greatest scholars of the mediaeval era.
Of his life, little more is known than may be gathered from his own letters. As Bishop, he strongly opposed Philip the First, who wished to desert Bertha, his legitimate wife and marry Bertrade of Anjou (1092) – his opposition gained him a prison cell.
In the Investiture struggle then raging in France and especially in Germany, Ivo represented the moderate party. Although he died too early to witness the final triumph of his ideas, with the Concordat of Worms (1122), his endeavours and his doctrines may be said to have paved the way for an agreement satisfactory to both sides. His views on the subject are fully expressed in several of his letters, especially those of the years 1099, 1106 and 1111. These letters are still of interest as to the question of the relationship between Church and State, the efficacy of the Sacraments administered by heretics, the sin of simony and much more.
The printed works of Ivo of Chartres may be arranged into three categories – canonical writings, letters and sermons. Some of his works had great influence and his letters are a valuable reflection of his era. Many of his letters and sermons circulated already in his lifetime and were copied widely, especially in the mid-twelfth century. The same is true for the canonical collections; they were copied frequently and used in the making of other collections.
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.”
Saint Ivo of Chartres (1040-1116)
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