Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Guido, Confessor

Saint Guy of AnderlechtArticle

Saint Guido or Guy, surnamed the Poor Man, was born and educated in a small village in Belgium, of poor but very devout parents. As they were unable to send their son to school, or to let him learn a profession, they took the utmost care to bring him up piously, and impressed on him love to God, fear of the divine judgment and horror of sin. Guido, obedient to his parents, followed their instructions, and fearing and loving the Almighty, avoided the least sin, and shunned every temptation to evil. He was so much devoted to prayers that he often went secretly into the church, where his conduct was such that he was called the Angel of the village. He was content with his poverty, and never murmured against any privation which he suffered. He had a most compassionate heart for the poor, whom he even assisted with what he himself had begged. One day, he had to go to a village called Laken, about four miles from Brussels. There, before attending to his business, he went into a church, and prayed long and fervently before an image of the Blessed Virgin. The curate of the place, observing him and edified by his devotion, asked him whence he came, who he was, how he maintained himself, and other similar questions. The manner in which the boy answered convinced the curate that he possessed much more mind and piety than might have been supposed from his youthful appearance: he therefore asked him if he would remain and serve in the church. Greatly rejoiced, Guido said that such had been his desire for a long time. At that time he was fourteen years old, yet, when he was appointed assistant to the sexton, he was so untiringly industrious in his work, so reverential to the clergy, so modest and devout, that he made himself beloved by every one. The cleanliness of the church was his greatest care, as he regarded it as the dwelling of that Lord to whom he was so fervently devoted. The time left to him from his work he employed in prayers, and even spent several hours in the church before the altar every night. When he became fatigued at such times, he lay down upon the pavement of the church and closed his eyes for a little while. Often was he found praying with tearful eyes before an image of the Blessed Virgin, calling on her with a loud voice to obtain for him pardon for his sins. He had always led a blameless life and wept more over the slightest fault of which he had become guilty than others over their vices and crimes. The remuneration he received was very small, yet the greater portion of it he gave to the poor.

A merchant of Brussels, observing Guido’s great charity to the poor, persuaded him, to go with him to Brussels, where he would employ him in his business, which would enable him to gain more money and hence give more to the poor. Guido captivated by the promise, went secretly away with the merchant and engaged in commerce. One misfortune, however, after another assailed him, the last of which happened as follows. A vessel, richly freighted, on board of which he was, was in the utmost danger. Every one tried to save himself. Guido seized a spar, but it broke in his hands, leaving a splinter so deep in his arm that it could not be extracted. He, however, safely reached the shore. This accident opened his eyes to the fault he had committed in leaving the service of the church. Repenting of his error, he returned to Laken, begged the curate’s pardon, and returned to his former occupation. As the splinter in his arm occasioned him great pain, and impeded his work, he sought and found help from the Divine Mother of Mercy; while he was praying before her image the splinter came out, and his arm was immediately healed. From that time he redoubled his zeal in the performance of his duties and in the practice of self-abnegation.

Some time afterwards he requested of the curate the permission to go to Rome, and thence to the Holy Land. Seven years he spent visiting the holy places, living during this period of time upon alms. When on his return he again came to Rome, he found Wondulf, dean of the church of Anderlecht, who, with some canons, intended visiting the Holy Land. He requested Guido, as being acquainted with the places they were setting out for, to accompany them. The Saint, although enfeebled in health, would not refuse an act of kindness, and for the second time he undertook the fatigues of the journey. They had scarcely visited the Holy Places, when the dean and his companions were seized with a most malignant fever from which none of them recovered. Guido nursed them with the most tender care, and having closed their eyes, he returned to Belgium and brought to Anderlecht the news of the death of the Dean and his companions. Soon after, Guido, enfeebled by his long journeys, became sick, and as God had revealed to him the hour of his death, he prepared himself for it most devoutly. Having received the holy sacraments, he was during the night occupied in prayer, when the room was suddenly filled with a heavenly brightness, and at the same time a voice was heard, saying: “Come, you good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of thy Lord.” At the same moment the holy man breathed his last, in the year of our Lord, 1012. His holy body was buried with great honors, and the glory of which he began to partake in heaven, was revealed to the world by the miracles wrought through his intercession. Some years later, a beautiful church was built in his honor, and his holy relics were transferred to it with great solemnity.

Practical Considerations

• Saint Guido was called the angel of the village, on account of the reverence which he manifested in church. Can you be called an angel for the same reason? If you are one of those who look about, talk and laugh, to the disturbance and scandal of others, you surely cannot be called so; for, the angels manifest the greatest devotion in the church on account of the infinite Majesty of Him who dwells there. He who would, for such conduct, call you a devil instead of an angel, would not be far from the truth; as only those incited by the Evil One act in so irreverent a manner. “Some,” says Saint Augustine, “come into the Church by the instigation of Satan; for, they do not pray, but talk, laugh, jest, and commit other iniquities, and, therefore, will soon follow their leader into eternal torments.” One might, however, almost think that such persons are worse than the devils; for these, according to the testimony of Saint James, believe and tremble: but such people do not tremble before God, their Judge, but dare to be impudent and audacious. Take care; the day will come when He will be your Judge, whom you, while He is concealed under the form of bread, so wickedly offend. How will you feel then, when you have not shown him due honor in Church, but have only caused Him displeasure? Surely you will tremble before Him more than the devils themselves.

• Saint Guido was satisfied with his poverty, neither complaining nor murmuring against God or men. The Almighty gives to some an abundance of earthly goods, while others suffer for the want of them. “The Lord makes poor and makes rich.” (1st Kings 2) Those who are rich have no cause to boast of it, to be proud, to elevate themselves above others, nor to despise others; for, riches are gifts of God, alms of the Lord of heaven and earth. Those who are poor have no reason to murmur against God, nor to envy the rich; for, God has done no wrong to them by refusing them riches. He was not obliged to give it to them. The rich ought to guard themselves against placing their heart on their possessions, according to the admonition of the Psalmist: “If riches abound, set not your heart upon them,” (Psalm 61) They ought not to love them too much; for, it is written: “There is not a more wicked thing than to love money; for, such a one sets his own soul for sale.” (Eccl. 10) The poor ought not to be too sad on account of his poverty, but console himself with the words of Tobias: “Fear not, my son; we lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things, if we fear God and depart from all sin, and do that which is good.” (Tobit 4) He ought to be sure that it is for his good that God has refused him riches, because they were not beneficial towards his salvation. If the poor Lazarus had possessed the wealth of the rich man, who knows if he would not have been condemned? The poor should therefore make a virtue of necessity, and bear the burden of poverty patiently, as Saint Guido did, after the example of Christ. The same example should also animate him in times of despondency. He must not try to help himself in his poverty by unlawful means, nor by offending God, but must lead a Christian life, work diligently, and trust in God, who surely will not forsake him. But should he languish and die of want, let him think that it is better to perish in poverty, like Lazarus, and ascend with him into heaven, than to live for a time, like the rich man, in affluence, and afterwards to be buried in hell. The rich ought to take care not to misuse their wealth, but to employ it according to the will of the Almighty, who will demand a strict account of it. He ought to be compassionate and generous to the poor, that he may not have the fate of the rich man of the Gospel. Saint Basil says that God gives to some riches, and to others poverty, that the former may gain salvation by bestowing alms, the latter by exercising patience. If the rich act not in accordance with the intentions of the Almighty, they will experience the truth of the words of Saint James, who writes: “Go now, ye rich men, weep and howl in your miseries which shall come upon you. You have stored up to yourselves wrath against the last days.” (James 5) Listen also to the terrible menace of Christ: “But woe to you that are rich, for you have your consolation.” (Luke 6) Woe in life! Woe in death! Woe after death in eternity! “Where are the princes of the nations,” says the Prophet Baruch, “and they that rule over the beasts that are upon the earth? that take their pastime with the birds of the air? that hoard up silver and gold, wherein men trust, and there is no end of getting? that work in silver and are solicitous and their works are unsearchable?” Answering this question, he says: “They are cut off and are gone down to hell, and others are risen up in their places.” (Baruch 3)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Guido, Confessor”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 May 2018. Web. 19 September 2018. <>