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Why Little Leaf?

St. Ives enters recorded history with the arrival of St. Ia or Hya, the Irish princess who introduced Christianity to this area in the 5th Century.

The legend tells how St. Ia, a Virgin Saint of noble birth went to the seashore to depart for Cornwall from her native Ireland along with other Saints. Finding that they had gone without her, fearing that she was too young for such a hazardous journey, she was grief stricken and began to pray.

As she prayed she noticed a little leaf floating on the water and touched it with a rod to see if it would sink. Lo, as she looked it grew bigger and bigger. She saw that God sent it to her and, trusting to Him, she embarked upon the leaf and was straightaway wafted across the Channel, reaching her destination before the others.

The legend goes on to say that she founded an oratory in a clearing of a wood on the site of the existing Parish Church that is dedicated to her. This 15th Century church has the rare distinction of having three church wardens, said to have originated as: one for the vicar, one for the seafarers and one for the miners and land workers.