Saint Guy of Anderlecht

Aug 04, 2021 / Written by: Tonia Long

Feast September 12

Patron Saint of Anderlecht, Belgium; against mad dogs; against rabies; bachelors; epileptics; horned animals; laborers; protection of outbuildings, stables, and sheds; sacristans; work horses.

On September 12, Catholics celebrate the feast day of Saint Guy of Anderlecht, a Belgian Christian known as the “Poor Man of Anderlecht.” Rich in the love, generosity, and grace of God, Saint Guy was poor in material possessions throughout his life. He worked tirelessly at the most menial of tasks, and gained a reputation for almsgiving, despite his own lack of the most basic needs. Although he never joined a particular religious order, Saint Guy was visited for spiritual direction by many, and through his model, brought many closer to Christ.

Church of Saints Peter and Guy, Anderlecht, Belgium
Outside façade and interior of the Church of Saints Peter and Guy, Anderlecht, Belgium.

Guy was born in Anderlecht, Belgian, a small village outside of Brussels. Raised by pious parents, he demonstrated great devotion to the Lord and to Our Blessed Mother Mary. Throughout his childhood, he gave away all he had, and spent his days visiting the sick and elderly of the town. It is said that when he worked the fields of his parents, an angel came and pushed the plow so that he might better pray undisturbed. From the time of his youth he wished to count himself among the special flock of Christ—the poor—for his entire life, dedicating himself to a life of poverty and service to those who had nothing.

Painted panel of Saint Guido of Anderlecht
Painted panel of Saint Guido of Anderlecht on a wooden reliquary dated 1595.

Like his Lord before him, Guy “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2: 52) He spent hours in prayer each day, traveling frequently to the church of Our Lady at Laeken, outside Brussels. There he demonstrated such devotion to Mary that the priest approached him, and asked him to stay and serve the Church. Saint Guy joyfully remained in the church, constantly cleaning, sweeping, polishing the altars, and attending to the most menial needs during the day—stopping only to befriend and serve those who were poor and came on foot to the church looking for assistance.

Painting of St Guy of Anderlecht
Painting of Saint Guy of Anderlecht, by Gaspar de Crayer (1584 – 1669), a Flemish painter known for his many Counter-Reformation altarpieces and portraits.

After a hard day’s labor, he spent each night in prayer, rarely sleeping, but instead could be found kneeling at the foot of the cross, praying for the poor.

One day a merchant from Brussels sought to take advantage of Guy, convincing him that through making more money, he could help more people. Seeing only the benefit in helping others, Guy left his post. The first ship bearing a cargo in which Guy had an interest, however, was lost. Realizing his mistake, Saint Guy humbly returned to the church only to find his position filled.

For seven years Guy engaged in severe acts of penance; he traveled on pilgrimage—on foot—visiting Rome and then the Holy Land, returning to Belgium and serving as a guide at the holy shrines.

Eventually, in his early sixties, Guy returned to Anderlecht, and died soon thereafter. In death, a golden light shone around him, and a heavenly voice was heard my many, proclaiming his eternal reward in heaven. He was buried in Anderlecht, and many miracles were attributed to his intercession at his grave.

Header Image: Graphic work of Saint Guy (Guido) of Anderlecht by Maurice Brocas, Royal Library of Belgium.