St. Genevieve was a fair and courageous peasant girl who was born around 422 in Nanterre, France, to a man named Severus and a woman named Gerontia.
Visiting Bishop Germanus consecrated young Genevieve to God and presented her with a medal to always wear around her neck, as a reminder of the consecration she made of herself to God. He ordered her to never wear any other bracelets, necklaces or jewelry, to avoid falling into vanity.
Genevieve was appointed by the Bishop to look after the welfare of the consecrated virgins. She did so faithfully and helped to lead them into a greater degree of holiness as they grew closer to the Lord Jesus.
Genevieve had a great influence over Childeric, the King of Gaul who overtook Paris. During a time when Paris suffered with great famine, Genevieve traveled by boat to Troyes and brought back several boats full of corn. Although he was a pagan, Childeric respected her and spared the lives of several prisoners on her behalf.
She also had an effect on King Clovis. He listened to her advice and under her request, he granted freedom to several of his prisoners.
When Attila and his army of Huns came upon Paris, the Parisian Christians were prepared to run, but Genevieve spoke to them and convinced them to stay within their homes, fast and pray to the Lord. She assured them they would have the protection of Heaven. Her prediction came true as Attila suddenly changed his path and turned away from Paris.
Genevieve died at 89-years-old on January 3, 512.
Her relics were encased by St. Eligius in a handmade gold and silver shrine around 630. Over the years, the Normans destroyed the church several times. Once it was rebuilt around 856, St. Genevieve's relics were returned and miracles began happening, making this church famous all throughout France.
Paris experienced proof of Genevieve's intercession on many occasions. The most famous occurrence was the miracle of Des Ardens, or the burning fever. In 1129, a violent fever swept through the city, and doctors couldn't stop the people from dying. The shrine of Genevieve was carried in a procession to the cathedral, and during the ceremony, those who touched her shrine were healed by the power of the Lord. Throughout the whole town, no one else became sick, all the ill recovered and only three people died.
St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris. She is depicted dressed in a long flowing gown with a mantle covering her shoulders and is often shown with a loaf of bread, representing her generosity toward those in need. Her feast day is celebrated on January 3.
Prayer to St. Genevieve
Saint Genevieve, you who by the days before, penance and prayer, ensured the protection of Paris, intercede near God for us, for our country, for the devoted Christian hearts. You who cured the sick and fed the hungry, obtain the light of God and make us stronger to reject temptation. You who had the concern of the poor, protect the sick, the abandoned, and the unemployed. You who resisted the armies and encouraged the besieged, give us the direction for truth and justice. You who through the centuries never ceased taking care of your people, help us to keep the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. May your example be for us, an encouragement to always seek God and serve him through our brothers and sisters. Amen.