Commemorated on January 3
She was born near Paris to a family of wealthy landowners.
When she was about ten years old St Germanus of Auxerre (July 31), passing
through the region on his way to Britain, discerned a special divine purpose for
her, and told her parents that she had been chosen for the salvation of many.
"He asked her that day, and early the next, if she would consecrate herself to
holy virginity for Christ and, on both occasions, she answered that it was her
dearest wish. Then he blessed her and gave her a copper coin inscribed with the
Cross to wear around her neck, telling her never to wear gold, silver or pearls,
but to elevate her mind above the small beauties of this world in order to
inherit eternal and heavenly adornments." (Synaxarion)
Convents were unknown at that time in Gaul, so Genevieve lived as a solitary,
in a cell in her own house, first with her parents then, after their death, with
her godmother in Paris. She devoted herself to the poor, giving away everything
that came into her hands, except the small amount that she needed to feed
herself on bread and beans. (When she passed the age of fifty, she was commanded
by the bishops to add some fish and milk to her diet). She kept Lent from
Theophany to Pascha, during which time she never left her house. She was never
afraid to rebuke the powerful for their oppression of the weak and the poor, and
thus earned many powerful enemies; but the people's love for her, and the
support of the Church, kept her from persecution.
It became her custom to walk to church on Sundays in procession with her
household and many pious laypeople. Once the candle borne at the front of the
procession (it was still dark) blew out in a rainstorm. The Saint asked for the
candle and, when she took it in her hand, it re-lit and stayed lighted until
they reached the church. At several other times, candles lit spontaneously in
her hand; for this reason her icon shows her holding a candle.
She traveled throughout Gaul (modern-day France) on church business, being
greeted with all the honors usually accorded a bishop. Several times she saved
the city of Paris from the assaults of barbarian tribes through her prayers, by
pleading with barbarian chieftains, and once by organizing a convoy to bring
grain to the besieged city.
Saint Genevieve reposed in peace at the age of eighty. Through the centuries
since then, she has shown her holy protection of the city of Paris countless
times, and her relics in the Church of Saint Genevieve have wrought innumerable
healings. Her relics were many times carried in huge processions in times of
war, pestilence or other national trial. These relics were mostly burned and
thrown into the River Seine by the godless Revolutionaries in 1793, but, as the
Synaxarion concludes, "those who continue to
invoke Saint Genevieve with faith, find her to be well and truly alive."