Genevieve was born at Nanterre,
a small village about eight miles from Paris,
around 422. Legend says her family was of the
peasant class, but other sources say her family
had some wealth and influence. What is not
disputed, however, is that she had decided upon a
course of chastity and charity by the age of
nine. In 429, St. Germain of Auxerre came to her
village and, after speaking with Genevieve, told
her parents that she would lead a life of
sanctity and by her example and instruction bring
many virgins to consecrate themselves to God.
Upon the death of her parents
Genevieve went to live with a godmother in Paris,
where she remained the rest of her life. It is
unclear when she took her vows, but she did
indeed fulfill Germain's prediction; the bishop
of Paris appointed her to look after the welfare
of virgins who had dedicated themselves to God.
At one time neighbors accused Genevieve of being
a hypocrite and imposter, but Germain silenced
the critics by sending her some blessed bread.
In 451, as Attila the Hun bore
down on Paris, Genevieve encouraged the city's
residents to hope and trust in God, and urged
them to do works of penance. Paris listened, and
Attila ultimately turned his horde towards
Orleans, bypassing Paris. Several years later
Clovis took Paris. During the siege Genevieve
distinguished herself by her charity and
self-sacrifice; through her influence, Clovis
displayed amazing clemency towards the citizenry.
It was because of Genevieve
that a church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul
was begun by Clovis about 511. Genevieve died in
512, and her remains and relics were interred at
the church after its completion.
Saint Genevieve's relics have
been responsible for two major Paris miracles. In
834, the city was saved from complete inundation
after the relics were honored. In 1129, a violent
plague killed over 14,000 people, before a
procession of relics was performed in Saint
Genevieve's honor; those who were sick before the
procession suddenly got well, and no other deaths
or illnesses were reported thereafter.
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