Genevieve, Saint, c.420-c.500, patron saint of Paris. A nun renowned for good works, she is said to have averted, by fasting and prayer, an expected attack of Attila the Hun on Paris in 451. Feast: Jan. 3.
Taggard, Genevieve, 1894-1948, American poet, b. Waitsburg, Wash. Her early years were spent in Hawaii. She returned to the United States in 1914, graduated from the Univ. of California in 1919, and taught English at several women's colleges. Her poetry ranges from the deeply personal poems of her early career to her later verse of social commentary. Among her volumes of poetry are For Eager Lovers (1922), Hawaiian Hilltop (1923), Calling Western Union (1936), Long View (1942), and Collected Poems: 1918-1938 (1938). She compiled several anthologies, including a collection of metaphysical verse.

In Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism, Saint Geneviève (Nanterre near Paris, c. 419/422 - Paris 512) is the patron of Paris. Her feast is kept on January 3.


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 born from a Frankish father and a Gallo-Roman mother. 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. Geneviève's death and burial

Genevieve died in 512. When it was complete, Clovis' church dedicated to both Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Mont-lès-Paris received her remains. Under the care of the Benedictines, numerous miracles wrought at her tomb caused the church to be rededicated in her name, and people enriched it with their gifts. In 847 it was plundered by the Vikings and was partially rebuilt, but was completed only in 1177. In 1129, when the city was suffering from an epidemic of ergot poisoning, this "burning sickness" was stayed after her relics were carried in a public procession. This event is still commemorated in the churches of Paris.

The saint's relics were carried in procession yearly to the cathedral, and Mme de Sévigné gives a description of the pageant in one of her letters.

This church having fallen into decay once more, Louis XV ordered a new church worthy of the patron saint of Paris; the Marquis of Marigny was entrusted with the construction, and he gave the task to his protégé Jacques-Germain Soufflot, but completed after Soufflot's death by his pupil, Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. The Revolution broke out before it was dedicated, and it was taken over in 1791, under the name of the Panthéon, by the National Constituent Assembly, to be a burial place for distinguished Frenchmen. Though her remains had been publicly burnt at the Place de Grève in 1793, the Panthéon was restored to Catholic purposes in 1821, secularized again as a national mausoleum in 1831 and once more in 1852. Then, though the Communards dispersed the remaining relics, the Panthéon was finally reconsecrated to Geneviève in 1885.

Canons of St. Geneviève

About 1619 Louis XIII named Cardinal François de La Rochefoucauld abbot of St. Genevieve's. The canons had been lax and the cardinal selected Charles Faure to reform them. This holy man was born in 1594, and entered the canons regular at Senlis. He was remarkable for his piety, and, when ordained, succeeded after a hard struggle in reforming the abbey. Many of the houses of the canons regular adopted his reform. In 1634, he and a dozen companions took charge of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont of Paris. This became the mother-house of a new congregation, the Canons Regular of Ste. Genevieve, which spread widely over France.

The institute named after the saint was the Daughters of St. Geneviève, founded at Paris, in 1636, by Francesca de Blosset, with the object of nursing the sick and teaching young girls. A somewhat similar institute, popularly known as the Miramiones, had been founded under the invocation of the Holy Trinity, in 1611, by Marie Bonneau de Rubella Beauharnais de Miramion. These two institutes were united in 1665, and the associates called the Canonesses of St. Geneviève. The members took no vows, but merely promised obedience to the rules as long as they remained in the institute. Suppressed during the Revolution, it was revived in 1806 by Jeanne-Claude Jacoulet under the name of the Sisters of the Holy Family.


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