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St. Genevieve was just an ordinary girl born in 422, living on the outskirts of Paris, France, who in her lifetime became a beacon of hope for the people of Paris. It seemed she was always meant to be a servant of the Lord, because at just the young age of seven she was told she was going to live a life a sanctity. This was proclaimed by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre at the time, as he was visiting her town. At her request, she wished to be consecrated to God as a virgin right then. The holy bishop led her to a church, accompanied by all the faithful in the town, and consecrated her to the Lord. And so this begins St. Genevieve’s journey as a simple yet mighty saint.
Living a life of prayer, devotion, and performing acts of penance, under the mentorship of St. Germanus, Genevieve was ready to become a nun at the age of 15. In a meeting with the Bishop of Paris, Genevieve asked if she could become a nun. After this moment, she began praying continuously and fasting, eating only twice a week, as a sign of her complete dedication to the Lord.
Following the death of her parents, Genevieve went on to live with her grandmother in Paris. Her work then began as she traveled, sharing the faith, performing acts of charity, praying for the sick, and prophesying. Her dedicated way of life was filled with the signs of the Holy Spirit working through her. Genevieve often saw visions of heavenly angels and saints. However, when she shared those visions and experiences to the people, they began to call her a hypocrite and falce visionary and even wanted to have her drowned in a lake of fire. But St. Germanus came to her aid and put an end to these accusations, saving her from a gruesome death.
Later in her life, she was appointed to look after the welfare of the consecrated virgins. She ended up having quite an influence over the monarchs at the time such as Chil-deric, the King of Gaul and King Clovis. Although they were pagan, they respected her and spared the lives of several prisoners on her behalf. During a time when Paris suffered with great famine, Genevieve traveled by boat to Troyes and brought back several boats full of corn for the people of Paris.
St. Genevieve is most famously known for being the patroness of Paris, France. She is credited with encouraging the people of Paris to perform acts of mercy rather than flee Paris when the city was threatened by the Huns in 451. Through the encouraging words, fasting, and prayer from Geneviene, the attacking Huns switched their attentions from Paris to Orleans.
Genevieve died at 89-years-old on January 3, 512, which is now her feast day. As we just passed the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I can’t help but compare Genevive’s story to Mary’s. Both women were anointed at a young age and devoted their lives to serving the Lord. Just like Mary, Genevieve’s yes to the Lord was unquestioned and anointed. St. Genevieve’s teaching of pure devotion and penance can seem a bit much to us slackers, but one thing this slacker is taking away from this prayerful saint is her inspiring hope and complete trust in the Lord.