Traditional Mass

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saint Genevieve



Apostle & Evangelist


Though there is a "vita" that purports to be written by a contemporary, Geneviève's history cannot be separated from her hagiography, which describes her as a peasant girl of Nanterre. One day Saint Germain of Auxerre came to Nanterre, and Genevieve confided in him that she wanted to live only for God. He encouraged her in her pursuit, and, at the age of fifteen, Genevieve became a nun. On the deaths of her parents, she went to live with her godmother Lutetia in Paris ("Lutetia", being the former name of the city of Paris, has a symbolic weight), where she became admired for the extremes of her piety and her devotion to works of charity, which included her severe corporal austerities, and a vegetarian diet which allowed her to sup but twice per week. "These mortifications she continued for over thirty years, till her ecclesiastical superiors thought it their duty to make her diminish her austerities," the Catholic Encyclopedia reports. She did encounter opposition and criticism for her activities, both before and after she was once again visited by Germanus.

Like many of her Gallic neighbors, Geneviève had frequent communication with the other world and reported her visions and prophesies, until her enemies conspired to drown her; through the intervention of Germain of Auxerre, their animosity was finally overcome. The bishop of the city appointed her to look after the welfare of the virgins dedicated to God, and by her instruction and example she led them to a high degree of sanctity.

Shortly before the attack of the Huns under Attila in 451 on Paris, with the help of Germanus' archdeacon, the panic-stricken people of Paris were persuaded not to leave their homes. The diversion of Attila's army to Orléans was attributed to Genevieve's prayers. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, Geneviève passed through the siege lines in a boat to Troyes, bringing grain to the starving city. She also plead for the welfare of prisoners of war to Childeric, and met with a favorable response. Later, Clovis I liberated captives and showed greater lenience to wrongdoers after being urged by her to do so.

St. Genevieve died in 512 A.D.