Genevieve, Virgin and Monastic, c. 500

Born at Nanterre, Genevieve (or Genofeva) took the veil at the age of about fifteen.  On the death of her parents, Severus and Gerontia, she moved to Paris, where she continued her chosen life of prayer and austerity. She was supported by Bishop (Saint) Germanus of Auxerre, who had apparently known her from her childhood. When Attila and his Huns were approaching the city, Genevieve encouraged the people to avert an attack by constant prayer and fasting, and indeed, the Huns change the route of their march, and the city was saved. When the Franks under Childeric beseiged Paris, Genevieve acted as an intermediary between the city and its conqueror, obtaining food for the people of the besieged city and interceding with Childeric to release his prisoners. She won Childeric’s respect, and she was permitted to build a church in honor of Saint Denys (Dionysius), a bishop of Paris. Clovis, the Frankish king who converted to the catholic Christian faith and united the various Frankish kingdoms of Gaul, also held her in great respect and is also said to have released prisoners at her intercession.

After her death Genevieve was buried in the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, later known as Saint Genevieve’s, built by Clovis. Miracles associated with her and her cult made the church famous. The fabric eventually decayed, and a new church was begun in 1746, but was secularized at the Revolution and called (as it is to this day) the Pantheon, a burial place for the worthies of France.

She is the patroness of Paris, whose citizens have invoked her over and over again in times of crisis. Several churches were dedicated to her in medieval England, where at least five abbeys celebrated her feast. She is commemorated on January 3.

adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints


O God, by whose grace your servant Genevieve, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The icon of Saint Genevieve is taken from the page of Western Saints at the Orthodox England website.


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