Oil Dedicated to Ven Guy Pierre de Fontgalland
The Ven Guy Pierre de Fontgalland is dedicated to the French boy who died in 1925.
Guy de Fontgalland (1913 –1925), Servant of God, was regarded as the youngest potential Catholic saint who was not a martyr. His beatification process was opened on November 15, 1941, and suspended on November 18, 1947.
Guy had the qualities and defects of an ordinary child. He proved to be wanton with his mother and angry with his brother Marc. He was also sensitive and affectionate. Also, he was especially frank and loyal, confessing to his faults at the risk of being punished. He died with the reputation of having never told a single lie. Guy reflected a very childlike faith inspired by Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.
In January 1917 he visited Therese’s tomb at Lisieux, where he accompanied his mother on pilgrimage. Although very young, he tried to imitate Jesus in everything. He “chatted with him” in the privacy of his room and, subsequently, during Holy Communion. He offered every day small sacrifices to try to “please Jesus”. Guy was only five years old when he manifested his desire to make his First Holy Communion and, the following year his wish to become a priest. He learned to read and write in two months and was enrolled in the parish Catechism classes.
Guy receives Holy Communion
On May 22, 1921, he took advantage of the provisions of Pope Pius X in favour of early communion, and he soon became an apostle within the ‘Eucharistic Crusade’ sodality. On that day after a month of preparation, punctuated by “one hundred eighteen sacrifices” which he diligently recorded, he made his First Communion in the Church of St-Honoré d’Eylau. He was given a revelation of his approaching death but kept it secret so as not to sadden his relatives.
In October 1921, he entered the Collège Saint Louis de Gonzague, where he was a poor student, slothful and lazy in his studies despite his intelligence and curiosity. He was corrected and improved his character. Guy did not draw attention to himself but was noted for his charity and his easy companionship. He protected the weaker students but did not defend himself when attacked. He forgave his opponents and did not keep grudges or hard feelings. Also. Guy was never sulking and refused to denounce others or to cause trouble.
In July 1924, the family went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. In front of the grotto, he had a confirmation of his earlier revelation that he would die soon, on a Saturday, the day of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Guy falls ill
On the night of 7–8 December, he fell ill with diphtheria. There followed a period of crisis and remissions. He disclosed his “double secret” to his mother. He confronted the pain with courage and died of suffocation on Saturday, January 24, 1925, aged eleven.
His death caused a sensation. At the end of 1925, the Father Rector of St. Louis de Gonzague wrote: “Really the way in which the story of this little life spreads is amazing; the finger of God is here.” Consequently, there was a continuous procession of parents, friends and religious at 37 rue Vital where the body surrounded by white flowers was exposed for fifty two hours by special permission. A photograph of Guy on his deathbed, taken at the time, was sent or delivered in his memory to a total of 500 copies.
After a ceremony at Our Lady of Grace Church at Passy, the coffin is taken to Gare de Lyon and placed in a wagon with the arms of the Fontgalland family. The funeral service at the Cathedral of Die (Drôme), the family seat, took place on Friday 30 January 1925, “in the middle of a very large crowd”.
Guy is honoured over the world
From all of France and then from around the world, more is written about him. Many came to pray at his grave and visited his parents. Calls for the memorial images of him are taken by hundreds of thousands, and distributed in 48 different languages. Some 726,000 parcels of clothes were distributed. Books were dedicated to him in several languages.
In 1936, on 25 March, his body was transferred to the chapel Sainte Paule at Valence (Drôme) to assist the vocation of the seminarians. On September 11, his parents and his brother were received by Pius XI who had promoted his cause.