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

Saint GummarusArticle

To the life of Saint Edward, we will add a short sketch of Saint Gummarus, a nobleman of Brabant, who was born near Lierre, in the province of Antwerp. His parents, much against his inclinations, brought him early to the court of king Pepin. The love and fear of God had taken such root in his heart, that he preserved his innocence and purity inviolate through many dangers. He was polite and kind to every one, but so careful in all he said, that he never uttered a frivolous or impure word. Neither could he suffer others to make use of such words in his presence. The King was so much pleased with the pious conduct of the youth, that he gave him the hand of a lady of high nobility, but who, unfortunately, possessed no other qualities to entitle her to the love of her virtuous husband. After some years, Gummarus was obliged to go to the wars, and left to his wife the care of his household and estates. The wicked woman treated the servants and the people upon the estate with great cruelty. Some were sent away without sufficient cause, others were oppressed with work. Others were driven from their homes and were forced to draw the plow with their own hands, or they were yoked, instead of oxen, to carts and wagons. When Gummarus after the war was ended, returned home, and was informed of the conduct of his wife, he earnestly reproved her and endeavored to atone for the wrong she had done. He restored to all what had been taken from them, and thus brought his affairs into order.

On other occasions also, he manifested to his people a compassionate and truly fatherly heart One day the reapers were in the fields cutting the com. His wife, who had taken upon herself to superintend the harvest, kept them at their work with too great eagerness. She would not even permit the mowers to go to the spring to allay their thirst during the heat of the day. The pious Gummarus came to the field at this time, and when he heard how his wife had treated the reapers, he reprimanded her sharply, and then miraculously procured the desired water for the thirsty workmen. He dug with his staff in the ground, and suddenly a bright cool stream gushed forth, which gave new strength to the exhausted laborers. This spring still exists, and is shown as a sign of Saint Gummarus’ love and care for those under him: he was not less kind to his wicked spouse. She was taken sick in the field, as a punishment of her cruelty. She had over-heated herself in her eagerness to drive the people to work, and was carried home. When she had been laid on the bed, she became so thirsty, that she thought her entrails were on fire. She endeavored to allay her thirst with water; but the more she drank, the more thirsty she became. This punishment opened her eyes, and she acknowledged her wickedness towards the poor laborers in the field. Hence she sent hastily to her pious husband, begging him humbly, that as he had shown compassion on the poor reapers and so miraculously allayed their thirst, he would also have pity upon her, and by his prayers, end the fire which was consuming her, as otherwise she must surely die. The holy Gummarus said a short prayer and made the sign of the Cross over her; and thus she was immediately relieved of her interior heat and immoderate thirst.

Many similar miracles were wrought by this compassionate Saint for the welfare of his neighbors, as he constantly endeavored to assist others both in spiritual and temporal necessities. In bearing the many crimes of his spouse he evinced heroic patience, and endeavored, as well by example as by exhortations, to lead her to the path of a Christian life, to which end he also offered many fervent prayers to the Almighty. His greatest pleasure consisted in prayer and devout discourse. At that period there lived a man named Rumold, who was famed for his holiness. To him Saint Gummarus went frequently, in order to animate himself in his zeal to serve God, by pious discourses. Sometimes he put aside all temporal affairs and retired for several days, to pray and meditate, on a small island, where, following the direction of an Angel, he had built a Church. After living thus for many years in the practice of piety, in doing good to men, and carefully observing all the obligations imposed upon him by his station, he fell into a severe illness, which he gratefully received from Gods hand, and bore with wonderful patience, until, having received the holy Sacraments, he gave up his soul to Him whom he had so faithfully served during life. His holy body was at first buried at the place of his birth, but afterwards it was removed to the Church, which, as was said above, he had built on the island. During the ceremonies which took place when the relies of the Saint were removed, God honored him with many miracles. God grant that all Christian masters may follow the example of Saint Gummarus in kindness to their domestics!

Practical Considerations

• The lips of Saint Gummarus were never soiled with an impure word; neither did he allow others to make use of such words in his presence. The same thing is also especially noted in the life of the chaste and holy king Edward. Thus act the lovers of chastity. No impure word passes their lips, neither do they allow others to speak obscenely in their presence, or relate stories which make the innocent blush. He, who laughs at such speeches or stories, and likes to hear them, or perhaps even dares to make such unchaste jests himself, cannot say that he is a lover of chastity, or that he has a pure heart. I do not believe it, and will never believe it. “As the heart is,” says Saint Chrysostom, “so are the words on the lips.” Our words tells the state of the heart. Christ Himself clearly confirms this: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. A good man, out of a good treasure, brings forth good things: and an evil man, out of an evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12) Those who have a chaste heart, have not frivolous or unclean tongues. But if the tongue of a man is impure and obscene, then, according to the words of Christ, his heart is in the same condition. “If any one has an impure breath,” writes Albertus Magnus, “it is a sign that either his lungs, liver, or stomach is disordered: thus, also, it is a sure sign, that a man is disordered, sick, or impure of soul, if he utters impure words,” If you would show that you possess a chaste heart and are a lover of purity, never let an unchaste word pass your lips. Do not permit any one to speak obscenely in your presence. Prevent all such speeches as much as it is in your power. Seek not voluntarily the company of those who are wanton and immodest in their speech, nor remain with them. Do not laugh thoughtlessly at such words, but show a decided displeasure. Laughing is no sign of displeasure, but on the contrary of rejoicing and approval. Those who use impure language, if they see you laugh, will judge that you are pleased to hear them, and will be encouraged to be still more obscene. Hence you make yourself a partaker of the sin of others. Therefore endeavor to do just the contrary; abstaining from all laughter and manifest a decided displeasure, and if possible, go away and avoid such people. The stench of the words which they utter may remind you of what the Gospel says about the Last Judgment, when “the goats” shall be placed at the left hand of the divine Judge. If you do not wish to be then accounted among them, frequent not their society now. “For,” as Saint Bernard says, “Vain, frivolous, impure speeches contaminate man to such a degree, that he soon likes to say and do what he likes to listen to;” that is to say, he will soon be morally like a goat, and hence, on the last day, he will stand on the left side of the Great Judge.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Gummarus, Confessor”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 May 2018. Web. 21 September 2018. <>