January 3, 2005
vol 16, no. 3

Saint Genevieve

        Genevieve, not to be confused with the Arthurian Legend's Genevieve, lived her life in much the same manner as another French woman fourteen hundred years later - Saint Therese of Lisieux for Genevieve, a great influence on King Clovis in establishing France as a Catholic country, was only a poor peasant girl, but Christ dwelt in her heart. She was anointed with His Spirit, and with power; she went about doing good, and God was with her. France has had so many blessings and look what the elder Daughter of the Church has squandered. God have mercy on this land once known as Gaul.

    Saint Genevieve was born at Nanterre, near Paris in 422. St. Germanus, when passing through that village, noticed this little shepherdess and predicted her future sanctity. At seven years of age she made a vow of perpetual chastity. After the death of her parents, Paris became her abode, but she often traveled on works of mercy in which she was assisted by the gifts of prophecy and miracles.

    At one time she was cruelly persecuted. Her enemies, jealous of her power, called her a hypocrite and tried to drown her, but when the holy Germanus sent her some blessed bread as a token of esteem, the outcry ceased. Ever afterwards she was honored as a Saint.

    During the siege of Paris by Childeric, king of the Franks, Genevieve went out with a few followers and procured grain for the starving citizens. Childeric, though a pagan, respected her, and at her request spared the lives of many prisoners. When Attila and his Huns were approaching the city for another incursion, the inhabitants, instead of taking flight, asked her aid; and listening to her exhortations they undertook prayer and penance, thus averting the impending scourge, as she had foretold would be possible. King Clovis, when converted from paganism by his holy wife, St. Clotilda, made Genevieve his constant adviser, and, in spite of his violent character, became a generous and Christian king.

    Saint Genevieve died in 512, at the age of eighty-nine. When in 1129 a pestilence broke out at Paris, in a short time it swept off fourteen thousand persons, and, in spite of all human efforts, daily added to its victims. At length, on November 26th, the reliquary of Saint Genevieve was carried in solemn procession through the city. That same day only three persons died; the rest recovered, and no others were taken ill. This was but the first of a series of miraculous favors which the city of Paris has obtained through the relics of its patron Saint.

    SOURCE: From Butlerís Lives of the Saints, Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

For past articles on the Sanity of Sanctity, see Archives

January 3, 2004
vol 16, no. 3
The Sanity of Sanctity