St Genevieve Celebrated on January 3rd



St Genevieve
Celebrated on January 3rd
Virgin and patron of Paris. Born at Nanterre in around 420, St Genevieve is said to have met St Germanus of Auxerre on his way to England, when she was about seven years old. She told him then that she wanted to live only for God. He encouraged her to pray, and when she was 15, she took the veil.
After her parents' death she moved to Paris and stayed with her godmother, living a life of prayer and caring for the poor, sick and elderly. When Attila the Hun invaded the country in 451, some people thought St Genevieve was to blame - but Germanus defended her. The defeat of the Huns at Orlean was attributed to her prayers. When the Franks blockaded Paris she led a party up the river Seine to bring back food for the starving citizens. Later she persuaded the Frankish king to release a number of prisoners of war. From that time, Parisians saw her as their protector.
St Genevieve died around 500AD and was buried in the church of St Peter and Paul, (later St Genevieve's) where many miracles are said to have taken place. A new church was built in 1746.
Throughout mediaeval times she was very popular. Her statue would be brought out in times of disaster. In 1129, an epidemic suddenly ended after people asked Genevieve to intercede for them. Many French churches were dedicated to her. There were also several in Germany and two in England. Her shrine was destroyed during the French revolution, but she remains a much loved saint. Her most usual emblem is a candle, which the Devil is said to have blown out when she prayed at night.