VENERABLE ANTHONY DE GUZMÁN
Brother of Saint Dominic
It is well known that Saint Dominic's brother, Blessed Mannes de Guzmán, followed his brother Dominic in joining the Order of Preachers. Mannes assisted in establishing the priory of Saint Jacques at Paris in 1217 and in 1219 was entrusted with the care of the Dominican nuns at Madrid. He died at the Cistercian monastery of San Pedro at Gumiel de Izán near Caleruega in about 1235.
What is lesser known is that the oldest Guzmán brother, Anthony, was also a priest, though not a member of the Order of Preachers. Anthony (Antonio) de Guzmán was born circa 1164–1166 and was educated by his uncle, Don Gonzalo de Aza, the archpriest of Gumiel de Izán. At some time between 1188 and 1190 he was ordained to the priesthood. While one tradition holds that he became a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, most research now holds that he became a diocesan priest. Anthony became a model priest and devoted his life to the care of souls, the welfare of the poor, and the aid of the sick. Upon the death of his parents, Félix and Jane, he came into the possession of the Guzmán señorío (estate) in Caleruega and transformed a large portion of the castle into a hospital. Anthony retired to the hospital he founded to serve our Lord Jesus Christ in his suffering and sick members.
Anthony died with a great reputation for sanctity at some time before 1234 since this was the year when Mannes constructed a church in Caleruega dedicated to Saint Dominic, already canonized. In the records of this construction, Anthony's name does not arise. He was buried at the church of Gumiel de Izán. Anthony, along with his father Félix, were later declared “Venerable.” Both of their earthly remains were transferred to the Dominican Convent of Caleruega in 1864 where they were laid to rest next to each other in the corridor that joins the sacristy with the crypt.
Blessed Jane of Aza,
the Venerable Félix de Guzmán, and Saint Dominic
Blessed Jane of Aza
with Saint Dominic,
Blessed Mannes, and the Venerable Anthony
Professed members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic have a special connection to the Venerable Anthony de Guzmán. Saint Dominic was called to found the Order of Preachers and his older brother, Blessed Mannes, was called to join the Order. However, the oldest of the Guzmán brothers, Anthony, while he was called to the priesthood, he was not called to the Order of Preachers. Regardless of whether he was in fact a monk of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos or was a diocesan priest, it is a fact that he was not a Dominican priest. Nonetheless, Anthony de Guzmán was connected to the Order of Preachers through his younger brothers. There is no doubt that Anthony supported Dominic and Mannes in their work of preaching and teaching. He was their older brother and a brother priest, after all—and after the death of their parents, the head of the Guzmán family in Caleruega.
Conscious of their profession, members of the Priestly Fraternity strive with all their strength to live in the spirit of the evangelical counsels and beatitudes, so that they can cooperate ever more perfectly with the grace they received through the imposition of hands. Certainly the holy Anthony de Guzmán strove to live this way in his priesthood. In his ministry to the sick and suffering, how could Anthony not think of the Beatitude which states Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Consider our Lord’s words in the Gospel of Matthew: “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. I was sick and you looked after me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you sick?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
All priests receive special grace at their ordination which helps them to perform acts of sacred ministry worthily. However, professed members of the Priestly Fraternity receive new spiritual helps from their profession, a profession which makes them members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. Certainly the case could be made that Anthony de Guzmán as a blood brother of Dominic and Mannes was a true member of the Dominican Family (a term that would not be coined for many, many years). Certainly he would have prayed for and assisted the Order in any way he could from his ministry in Caleruega. As the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests of the Second Vatican Council would say centuries later: “It is very important that all priests, whether diocesan or religious, help one another always to be fellow workers in the truth. Each one, therefore, is united in special bonds of apostolic charity, ministry, and brotherhood with the other members of this priesthood.”
While Dominic and Mannes were called to the Order of Preachers, Anthony was not. Priests of the Priestly Fraternity were first called to the diocesan priesthood yet therein heard another call to the Dominican Order and were urged by supernatural grace to enroll in the Order of Saint Dominic and profess a rule of perfection suited to their state. It is not entirely different from Anthony who heard a call to the priesthood but therein heard a call to minister to the sick and suffering by founding the hospital in Caleruega. Each and every priest is united with his fellow priests in a bond of charity, prayer, and total cooperation. May the life and sanctity of the Venerable Anthony de Guzmán inspire members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic to greater charity, prayer, and cooperation with both their diocesan and Dominican brethren.
FOR FURTHER READING . . .
For further reading on the Guzmán family, download the booklet Caleruega: Birthplace of Saint Dominic de Guzmán at right, courtesy of the Biblioteca Digital de Castilla y León. Also available in Spanish (PDF).
Furthermore, read more about Blessed Jane of Aza and her family at Dominicos España HERE, in Spanish only.
Biographical text adapted from, and images on this page courtesy of, the Dominicos España