Pope grants the title of Blessed to Guido of Montpellier

26 days ago
The Vatican

Pope Francis issues a Motu Proprio “Fide Incensus” for granting the title of Blessed to the 12th century French religious Guido of Montpellier, calling him a "humble and modest servant" of the needy, sick, and abandoned children.

By Vatican News

"The example of Guido of Montpellier, a man absolutely unique in his humble spiritual life, in obedience and service to the poor, has always attracted and inspired us. We believe, therefore, that the time has come for him to be presented in a special way to the Church of God, to which he continues to speak through his faith and works of mercy."

With a Motu Proprio titled 'Fide Incensus', Pope Francis on Saturday granted the title of Blessed to Guido of Montpellier, raising his liturgical cult to the altars for the orders, congregations, and communities inspired by the charism of Santo Spirito in Sassia. 

The French religious was the founder of the Hospitallers of the Holy Spirit and the Confraternity of the Holy Spirit for the care, in particular, of poor and sick children.

Numerous requests

The Pope's decision is the result of the “praiseworthy judgments” expressed by his predecessors about the “holiness of life” of Guido of Montpellier, as well as the “numerous requests constantly submitted by Cardinals, Bishops, religious, and especially by orders, congregations, and institutes inspired by Guido’s Rule and life."

It also followed requests "by lay people, who have approached the Holy See to confer liturgical honors on Guido of Montpellier.”

Considering the “excellent merits” of the religious, the Pope has thus decided “for the good of souls” to grant this “special sign of grace.”

Liturgical Memorial on February 7

Guido of Montpellier, the document states, is thus inscribed in the catalog of the Blessed: his memorial, with the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharistic Celebration, is to be placed on February 7.

It will be obligatory for orders, congregations, and institutes of the Holy Spirit in Sassia as well as for institutes inspired by Blessed Guido’s charism.

A Service Started in the Outskirts of Montpellier

In Fide Incensus, the Pope then recounts the life and work of this man who, as Pietro Saunier wrote, was “inflamed with faith, burning with charity, so pious and loving of the poor as to honor them as masters, venerate them as patrons, love them as brothers, care for them as children, finally venerate them as images of Christ.”

Born in the second half of the 12th century in Montpellier to a wealthy family, Guido began serving the needy at a young age, founding a house-hospital for them in the outskirts of the French city. It was a work of mercy that, from the beginning, he entrusted to the Holy Spirit. He soon had many followers, inspired by his example, and thus, a community of religious and lay men and women was born.

Support from Pope Innocent III

Lotario de’ Conti di Segni, the future Pope Innocent III, during his studies in France, became acquainted with Guido’s works and, once elected to the papal throne, supported them with the bull Hiis precipue, in which he asked all Bishops to support his initiatives.

That same year, the hospital of Montpellier came under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See and the Pope confirmed the monastic rule prepared by Guido for his community, which, in addition to the hospital of Montpellier, already counted ten similar places in southern France and two in Rome.

Aid to abandoned newborns and unwanted children

With another bull, Cupientes pro plurimis, issued in 1201, the now-Church of Santa Maria in Sassia in Rome together with the domus hospitalis, founded by the same Innocent III between 1198 and 1201, was entrusted to the care of Guido of Montpellier and his companions.

Blessed Guido, writes Pope Francis in the Motu Proprio, aimed with his work “to embrace the whole person, in soul and body, extending from the youngest to the oldest... The ideal of helping everyone was particularly realized in the care of abandoned newborns and unwanted children.

In addition to material and spiritual assistance for mothers left alone and for prostitutes, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Sassia built one of the first foundling wheels, where newborns could be left anonymously under the care of the community. In this domus hospitalis, abandoned children were thus given an opportunity for integral development.

Going out in search of the needy

Blessed Guido also “did not limit himself to helping those who came to him, but encouraged his sisters and brothers to go out into the streets in search of the needy.” An unconditional service to the poor to which the religious added the religious contemplation of God’s love.

Pope Innocent III, with the bull Inter opera pietatis, in 1204 reconfirmed the new order and its jurisdiction over the Roman hospital at the church of Santa Maria in Sassia, making it the general house for the entire order.

A memory silently preserved

Brother Guido died in Rome, in the early months of 1208. His memory as a “humble and modest servant of the poor” was “silently” preserved for the following four centuries in monasteries and hospitals living according to the rule he wrote.

Since his passing, successive generations of sisters and brothers “have remembered him in daily prayer and in the faithful fulfillment of the charism of their order.”

As his work today still continues to bear “numerous and good fruits,” thanks to religious communities that tirelessly help the poor, the Pope therefore decided to grant the cult with the title of Blessed.

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