Today is the feast day of St Guy of Anderlecht, a patron saint of sacristans! Also known as the Poor Man of Anderlecht because of his love of the poor and sick, Guy spent so much time in the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, near Brussels, Belgium, that the priest invited him to be the sacristan. Guy was happy, living and working in the church, often spending all night in prayer. And what a great church it is!
Then one day, tempted to invest his meagre savings in a get rich quick scheme by a merchant from Brussels, Guy left the Church of Our Lady of Laeken. When the business venture quickly ended in disaster, Guy took it as a sign that he should return to his old life of poverty. But when he returned to the Church of Our Lady of Laeken his job as sacristan had been filled. Poor Guy!
Recognising his lack of trust in God to provide, Guy decided to do penance for his greed, spending the next seven years making a pilgrimage on foot to Rome, Italy and the Holy Land, then back to Brussels.
Well, that seems quite appealing to me, except perhaps for doing it all completely ‘on foot’. While I’m happy to do lots of walking, from time to time I’m also happy to use stuff on wheels and things with wings to get me from A to B. Or from shrine to shrine.
About the year 1012, sick from all the hardships and deprivations he had endured, Guy returned to Anderlecht, the place of his birth. At his death later the same year, a light shone around him and a voice was heard proclaiming his eternal reward.
I love this story. Guy recognised he had made a mistake, wasn’t bitter when he lost what little he had, and spent the last years of his life renewing his faith and trust in God.
St Guy of Anderlecht, pray for sacristans.