Saint Guy of Anderlecht
Hermit and Pilgrim
Saint Guy was born at Anderlecht, a village near Brussels, in the tenth century. As a child he had two loves, the Church and the poor, and he wished to be himself among that special little flock of Christ, the poor. While still very young he visited and cared for the sick, and he was regarded by the villagers as a young Saint.
As he grew older, love of prayer increased in him in a prodigious manner. One day when he was praying in the church of Our Lady at Laeken, a short distance from Brussels, he manifested such devotion before Our Lady’s shrine that the priest, drawing him into conversation, prayed him to stay and serve the Church. Thenceforth his great joy was to be constantly in the church, sweeping the floor, polishing the altars, and cleansing the sacred vessels. He spent entire nights in the church in prayer. By day he still found time and means to befriend the poor, so that his almsgiving became famous throughout the entire region.
A merchant of Brussels, hearing of the generosity of this humble sacristan, was prompted by a demon to go to Laeken and offer him a share of his business, telling him he would have the means thereby to give more to the poor. Guy had no desire to leave the church, but the offer seemed providential and he accepted it. The first ship bearing a cargo in which Guy had an interest, however, was lost, and he realized he had made a mistake. When he returned to Laeken, he found his place at the church filled. The rest of his life was one long penance for his inconstancy. For seven years he made pilgrimages of penance, visiting Rome and the Holy Land and other famous shrines. About the year 1012 he returned to Anderlecht in his native land. When he died in that same year, a light shone round him, and a voice was heard proclaiming his eternal reward. He was buried in the cemetery of the canons of Anderlecht.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).