A Garner of Saints – Saint Genevieve

detail of a stained glass window, church of Saint-Honoré d'Eylau, Rue Raymond Poincaré, 16th arrondissement, Paris, France; by Félix Gaudin, date unknown; photographed on 12 September 2010 by GFreihalter; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Born at Nanterre, near Paris, about 422. One day Saint Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, came to this village and a great crowd gathered to see him, Genevieve being among the number. When Germain saw her, obeying a divine impulse, he had her brought before him and announced to the people that God had chosen her for his spouse, saying, that influenced by her holy example many sinners would renounce their evil ways. When he insisted that she was bound to preserve her virginity, she replied that it had always been her intention to do so. The next day he again sent for her and presented her with a bronze medal marked with the cross, and told her to keep it always round her neck and never to wear any other ornament. One solemn feast day Genevieve’s mother, wishing to go to church, asked her daughter to remain at home. As the latter complained, her mother struck her and immediately became blind, and was only restored after two days by her daughter’s intercession. On another occasion as she was in a procession with some nuns older than herself who preceded her, the Bishop of Chartres met them, who said that she ought to go before the others because she was full of heavenly sanctification. After the death of her parents she went to Paris, and falling sick remained for three days without giving a sign of life. On her recovery she declared that an angel had revealed to her the glories of the saints and the punishment of the wicked. When Attila, King of the Huns, threatened Paris, most of the inhabitants fled. But Genevieve prayed ceaselessly, and exhorted the citizens assuring them that the town would not be taken. And some of the inhabitants proposed to kill her as an impostor, but were dissuaded by the Archdeacon of Auxerre, and soon afterwards the Huns withdrew. One day while she was walking at the head of her maidens on the way to mass the candle which she carried in her hand was blown out as she passed through the street, but when she lighted it again it remained burning brightly and was never again extinguished. Paris, after being besieged for several months, was devoured by famine. Genevieve took a boat down the Seine to fetch provisions, and she reached a spot where there was a dangerous tree in the river. But she prayed and the tree fell, while two demons fled out of it, so that no more wrecks occurred there. On her return to Paris she distributed bread to the poor. At Troyes, Meaux, Orleans, and Tours she performed numerous miracles, and her life was spent in constant devotion. She cherished a particular fervour for Saint Denis, and wished to erect a church in his honour. For this she exhorted the neighbouring priests to use their utmost endeavours, and when they replied that they had no lime, she sent them to the bridge of Paris, where they leamed the whereabouts of large quantities of this material from the conversation of two swineherds. After this the building proceeded successfully. She died in the year 512, and her body was buried on the Mount. Saint Genevieve, a magnificent shrine being made for it by Saint Eloi. Many miracles were wrought at her tomb. When the Normans attacked Paris, her remains were taken to a place of safety, but were subsequently brought back to Paris. Later on a terrible plague, known by the physicians as the Holy Fire, ravaged Paris. In the midst of the general desolation, a holy priest named Etienne remembered the benefits conferred by Genevieve during her life, and, at his suggestion, her body was carried in procession to the Church of Notre Dame. As soon as the coflin entered the church, all those who had been attacked were healed, with the exception of three. Her feast day is still celebrated at Paris, when many peasants come to visit her shrine with the hope of being restored to health. She is the patron saint of Paris. 3rd January.

Attributes

  • Carries a lighted candle, which a devil is sometimes represented as trying to blow out. She wears keys at her girdle and carries bread, but these attributes are not so common.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Genevieve”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 April 2017. Web. 27 May 2017. <>