Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Guy, Abbot

Almighty God very often manifests His goodness and mercy in pointing out the error of their ways to those who pursue the paths of pleasure and luxury. This mercy was shown to Saint Guy. He was born at Casmarius, a hamlet near Ravenna, of good family, his parents being Albert and Martia. Their indulgence, coupled with the fire of youth, nearly brought their son to ruin. While studying at Ravenna, he fell in love. Dancing, singing, rich banquets, and the society of the opposite sex were all he lived for. He was going straight to perdition, when, all of a sudden, Divine Providence mercifully opened his eyes to the abyss yawning in front of him. The sense of his peril now made him shrink with loathing from what he previously had found so alluring.

In the meantime his father had arranged a marriage alliance for him. To avoid this, Guy secretly left Ravenna, and clad in coarse garments escaped to Rome. There, after a regular course of study, he obtained Holy Orders. It was then his intention to proceed to Jerusalem and never to see Italy again; but it was otherwise decreed by the Almighty. The Divine Command bade him return to his native country, and join Martin, a holy anchorite, who was living on the confines of the territory of Ravenna. For three years he lived the solitary life under the direction of Martin.

Such was the esteem in which Guy was held owing to the humility and sanctity of his life, that, on the death of William, Abbot of Pomposa, he was chosen to succeed him. Under the new Abbot’s rule strict discipline flourished at Pomposa, so that it was as if Saint Benedict had come to life again. The devout thronged to the monastery to place themselves under Saint Guy’s spiritual guidance. Even his father and his brother, Gerard, were induced to leave the world and to don the cowl.

As the community was increasing in numbers every day, it became necessary to erect additional buildings. While this work was proceeding, several miracles were performed through the prayers of the holy Abbot. One of the workmen, while walking carelessly along the beams of the scaffolding, missed his footing, and, by Saint Guy’s intercession, was saved from being hurled lifeless to the earth. Owing to the same powerful mediation, no injury befell some monks who were dashed to the ground by blocks of hewn stone that had fallen through the giving way of some portion of the tackle. While the Abbot was energetically hurrying on the new monastery, his resources became exhausted. He had not wherewithal to feed his labourers. However, God did not forsake him. Soon after two ships, laden with corn, put into the coast adjoining the monastery and gave him abundance of provisions. It was not men’s bodies only that our Saint was concerned for, but much more for their souls. A monk who lived in a cell not far from Pomposa was carried off by a sudden seizure. Owing to his carelessness in the matter of penance, this monk’s soul ran the risk of being lost. Guy’s prayers restored him to life, that he might have time to make his peace with Heaven. Three days later, when he had piously confessed his sins and had been absolved, this monk died happily.

Saint Guy was now advanced in years, when the Emperor Henry, on his entrance from Germany into Italy, commanded him to the imperial presence. On setting out, the Abbot told his sorrowing brethren that Pomposa would never again see him alive. This prophecy came true. While on his journey he fell ill at Parma, and there died, A.D. 1046.

His remains, which at first were interred at Parma, were transferred by the Emperor to Verona, and later on to Spires, of which city he is still one of the chief patrons.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.