Saint of the Day – 12 September – Saint Guy of Anderlecht (c 950–1012) Hermit and Pilgrim known as “the Poor Man of Anderlecht” (also called – Guido, Guidon, Wye of Laken) Patronages – Anderlecht, Belgium, epileptics, against epilepsy, rabies, rabid animals, animals with horns, bachelors, convulsive children, farmers, labourers, workers, protection of outbuildings, sheds and stables, sacristans, sextons, work horses.
Born in Anderlecht, Belgian, a small village outside of Brussels, Guy was raised and instructed by poor but pious parents. From an early age, he demonstrated great devotion to the Lord and to Our Blessed Mother Mary. He proclaimed, while still a child, his wish to count himself among the special flock of Christ—the poor—for his entire life and dedicated himself to a life of poverty and service to those who had nothing. 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 plough so that he might better pray undisturbed. Guy came to be recognised as a saint by many!
As Guy matured, his devotion only increased. He spent hours in prayer each day, rarely sleeping but instead contemplating the Lord. He travelled frequently to the church of Our Lady at Laeken, outside Brussels and demonstrated such devotion to Mary that the priest approached him and asked him to stay and serve the Church. It was with tremendous joy that Saint Guy remained in the church as a Sacristan, 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. Each night he spent in prayer, rarely sleeping but instead could be found kneeling at the foot of the cross, praying for the poor.
After many years of service, a savvy merchant from Brussels sought to take advantage of Guy and offered him a share of his business, convinced him that through making more money, he could help more people. Guy wished nothing more than to remain in the churc, but he saw the benefit in helping others and left his post. Almost immediately the business failed and Guy, realising his mistake, returned to the church only to find his position filled. Guy engaged in severe acts of penance for the remainder of his life, offering all he had to the Lord for his inconstancy. He travelled on pilgrimage—on foot—for seven years, visiting Rome and then the Holy Land, returning to Belgium and serving as a guide at the holy shrines.
Eventually, in his early 60s, Guy returned to Anderlecht and died soon thereafter. In death, a golden light shone around hi, 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.
His grave is said to have become a place of pilgrimage for horses too, when a horse stopped at it. Cabdrivers of Brabant led an annual pilgrimage to Anderlecht until the beginning of World War I in 1914. They and their horses headed the procession followed by farmers, groom, and stable boys, all leading their animals to be blessed. The village fair that ended the religious procession was celebrated by various games, music and feasting, followed by a competition to ride the carthorses bareback. The winner entered the church on bareback to receive a hat made of roses from the parish pastor.