Dismissal Hymn for Saint Genevieve Tone 1
The shepherds that kept watch once beheld Christ our Saviour, and thou, O maid of God, as a shepherdess of pure heart didst worship the Great Shepherd of the true flock of the chosen lambs. Wherefore, guard us from the wolves that come in sheep’s clothing, and with love do thou lead us to Heavenly pastures, O most holy Genevieve.
Kontakion for Saint Genevieve Tone 4
By thy prayers, O Genevieve, the hordes of enemies were turned back and put to flight; for thy great audience with God preserved the people from all distress. Wherefore disdain not the cries of those who honor thee.
Megalynarion of Saint Genevieve
Charity and love for thy fellow man / filled thy heart to brimming, / and transfigured thy blessed soul; / for the Lord was with thee / in mighty deeds and wonders, / O Genevieve, most hallowed handmaid of Christ our God.
[Above hymns: Copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, and are used by permission.]
From the OCA website:
Saint Genevieve was born of wealthy parents in Gaul (modern France) in the village of Nanterre, near Paris, around 422. Her father’s name was Severus, and her mother was called Gerontia. According to the custom of the time, she often tended her father’s flocks on Mt. Valerien.
When she was about seven years old, St Germanus of Auxerre (July 31) noticed her as he was passing through Nanterre. The bishop kissed her on the head and told her parents that she would become great in the sight of God, and would lead many to salvation. After Genevieve told him that she wished to dedicate herself to Christ, he gave her a brass medal with the image of the Cross upon it. She promised to wear it around her neck, and to avoid wearing any other ornaments around her neck or on her fingers.
When it was reported that Attila the Hun was approaching Paris, Genevieve and the other nuns prayed and fasted, entreating God to spare the city. Suddenly, the barbarians turned away from Paris and went off in another direction.
Years later, when she was fifteen, Genevieve was taken to Paris to enter the monastic life. Through fasting, vigil and prayer, she progressed in monasticism, and received from God the gifts of clairvoyance and of working miracles. Gradually, the people of Paris and the surrounding area regarded Genevieve as a holy vessel (2 Tim. 2:21).
St Genevieve considered the Saturday night Vigil service to be very important, since it symbolizes how our whole life should be. “We must keep vigil in prayer and fasting so that the Lord will find us ready when He comes,” she said. She was on her way to church with her nuns one stormy Saturday night when the wind blew out her lantern. The nuns could not find their way without a light, since it was dark and stormy, and the road was rough and muddy. St Genevieve made the Sign of the Cross over the lantern, and the candle within was lit with a bright flame. In this manner they were able to make their way to the church for the service.
There is a tradition that the church which St Genevieve suggested that King Clovis build in honor of Sts Peter and Paul became her own resting place when she fell asleep in the Lord around 512 at the age of eighty-nine. Her holy relics were later transferred to the church of St Etienne du Mont in Paris. Most of her relics, and those of other saints, were destroyed during the French Revolution.
In the Middle Ages, St Genevieve was regarded as the patron saint of wine makers.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Patroness of Paris, b. at Nanterre, c. 419 or 422; d. at Paris, 512. Her feast is kept on 3 January. She was the daughter of Severus and Gerontia; popular tradition represents her parents as poor peasants, though it seems more likely that they were wealthy and respectable townspeople. In 429 St. Germain of Auxerre and St. Lupus of Troyes were sent across from Gaul to Britain to combat Pelagianism. On their way they stopped at Nanterre, a small village about eight miles from Paris. The inhabitants flocked out to welcome them, and St. Germain preached to the assembled multitude. It chanced that the pious demeanour and thoughtfulness of a young girl among his hearers attracted his attention. After the sermon he caused the child to be brought to him, spoke to her with interest, and encouraged her to persevere in the path of virtue. Learning that she was anxious to devote herself to the service of God, he interviewed her parents, and foretold them that their child would lead a life of sanctity and by her example and instruction bring many virgins to consecrate themselves to God. Before parting next morning he saw her again, and on her renewing her consecration he blessed her and gave her a medal engraved with a cross, telling her to keep it in remembrance of her dedication to Christ. He exhorted her likewise to be content with the medal, and wear it instead of her pearls and golden ornaments. There seem to have been no convents near her village; and Genevieve, like so many others who wished to practise religious virtue, remained at home, leading an innocent, prayerful life. It is uncertain when she formally received the religious veil. Some writers assert that it was on the occasion of St. Gregory’s return from his mission to Britain; others say she received it about her sixteenth year, along with two companions, from the hands of the Bishop of Paris. On the death of her parents she went to Paris, and lived with her godmother. She devoted herself to works of charity and practised severe corporal austerities, abstaining completely from flesh meat and breaking her fast only twice in the week. These mortifications she continued for over thirty years, till her ecclesiastical superiors thought it their duty to make her diminish her austerities.
Many of her neighbours, filled with jealousy and envy, accused Genevieve of being an impostor and a hypocrite. Like Blessed Joan of Arc, in later times, she had frequent communion with the other world, but her visions and prophecies were treated as frauds and deceits. Her enemies conspired to drown her; but, 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. In 451 Attila and his Huns were sweeping over Gaul; and the inhabitants of Paris prepared to flee. Genevieve encouraged them to hope and trust in God; she urged them to do works of penance, and added that if they did so the town would be spared. Her exhortations prevailed; the citizens recovered their calm, and Attila’s hordes turned off towards Orléans, leaving Paris untouched. Some years later Merowig (Mérovée) took Paris; during the siege Genevieve distinguished herself by her charity and self- sacrifice. Through her influence Merowig and his successors, Childeric and Clovis, displayed unwonted clemency towards the citizens. It was she, too, who first formed the plan of erecting a church in Paris in honour of Saints Peter and Paul. It was begun by Clovis at Mont-lès-Paris, shortly before his death in 511. Genevieve died the following year, and when the church was completed her body was interred within it. This fact, and the numerous miracles wrought at her tomb, caused the name of Sainte-Geneviève to be given to it. Kings, princes, and people enriched it with their gifts. In 847 it was plundered by the Normans and was partially rebuilt, but was completed only in 1177. This church having fallen into decay once more, Louis XV began the construction of a new church in 1764. The Revolution broke out before it was dedicated, and it was taken over in 1791, under the name of the Panthéon, by the Constituent Assembly, to be a burial place for distinguished Frenchmen. It was restored to Catholic purposes in 1821 and 1852, having been secularized as a national mausoleum in 1831 and, finally, in 1885. St. Genevieve’s relics were preserved in her church, with great devotion, for centuries, and Paris received striking proof of the efficacy of her intercession. She saved the city from complete inundation in 834. In 1129 a violent plague, known as the mal des ardents, carried off over 14,000 victims, but it ceased suddenly during a procession in her honour. Innocent II, who had come to Paris to implore the king’s help against the Antipope Anacletus in 1130, examined personally into the miracle and was so convinced of its authenticity that he ordered a feast to be kept annually in honour of the event on 26 November. A small church, called Sainte-Geneviève des Ardents, commemorated the miracle till 1747, when it was pulled down to make room for the Foundling Hospital. 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.
The revolutionaries of 1793 destroyed most of the relics preserved in St. Genevieve’s church, and the rest were cast to the winds by the mob in 1871. Fortunately, however, a large relic had been kept at Verneuil, Oise, in the eighteenth century, and is still extant. The church built by Clovis was entrusted to the Benedictines. In the ninth century they were replaced by secular canons. In 1148, under Eugene III and Louis VII, canons from St. Victor’s Abbey at Senlis were introduced. 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. He and a dozen companions took charge of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont, at Paris, in 1634. This became the mother-house of a new congregation, the Canons Regular of St. Genevieve, which spread widely over France. Another institute called after the saint was the Daughters of St. Genevieve, 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. Genevieve. 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. They now have charge of over 150 schools and orphanages.
From Bulter’s Lives:
Her father’s name was Severus, and her mother’s Gerontia: she was born about the year 422, at Nanterre, a small village four miles from Paris, near the famous modern stations, or Calvary, adorned with excellent sculptures, representing our Lord’s Passion, on Mount Valerien. When St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, went with St. Lupus into Britain to oppose the Pelagian heresy, he lay at Nanterre in his way. The inhabitants flocked about them to receive their blessing, and St. Germanus made them an exhortation, during which he took particular notice of Genevieve, though only seven years of age. After his discourse he inquired for her parents, and addressing himself to them, foretold their daughter’s future sanctity, and said that she would perfectly accomplish the resolution she had taken of serving God, and that others would imitate her example. He then asked Genevieve whether it was not her desire to serve God in a state of perpetual virginity, and to bear no other title than that of a spouse of Jesus Christ. The virgin answered that this was what she had long desired, and begged that by his blessing she might be from that moment consecrated to God. The holy prelate went to the church of the place, followed by the people, and, during long singing of psalms and prayers, says Constantius, that is, during the recital of None and Vespers, as the author of the life of St. Genevieve expresses it, he held his hand upon the virgin’s head. After he had supped, he dismissed her, giving her a strict charge to her parents to bring her again to him very early the next morning. The father complied with the commission, and St. Germanus asked Genevieve whether she remembered the promise she had made to God. She said she did, and declared she would, by the divine assistance, faithfully perform it. The bishop gave her a brass medal, on which a cross was engraved, to wear always about her neck, to put her in mind of the consecration she had made of herself to God; and at the same time, he charged her never to wear bracelets, or necklaces of pearls, gold or silver, or any other ornaments of vanity. All this she most religiously observed, and considering herself as the spouse of Christ, gave herself up to the most fervent practices of devotion and penance. From the words of St. Germanus, in his exhortation to St. Genevieve never to wear jewels, Baillet and some others infer that she must have been a person of quality and fortune: but the ancient Breviary and constant tradition of the place assure us that her father was a poor shepherd.
About fifteen years of age, she was presented to the Bishop of Paris to receive the religious veil at his hand, together with two other persons of the same sex. Though she was the youngest of the three, the bishop placed her first, saying that heaven had already sanctified her; by which he seems to have alluded to the promise she had already made, in the presence of SS. Germanus and Lupus, of consecrating herself to God. From that time she frequently ate only twice in the week, on Sundays and Thursdays. Her food was barley bread with a few beans. At the age of fifty, by the command of certain bishops, she mitigated this austerity so far as to allow herself a moderate use of fish and milk. Her prayer was almost continual, and generally attended with a large flow of tears. After the death of her parents she left Nanterre, and settled with her grandmother at Paris, but sometimes undertook journeys upon motives of charity, and illustrated the cities of Meaux, Laon, Tours, Orleans, and all other places wherever she went, with miracles and remarkable predictions. God permitted her to meet with some severe trials; for at a certain time all persons indiscriminately seemed TO be in a combination against her, and persecuted her under the opprobrious names of visionary, hypocrite, and the like imputations, all tending to asperse her innocency. The arrival of St. Germanus at Paris, probably on his second journey to Britain, for some time silenced her calumniators; but it was not long ere the storm broke out anew. Her enemies were fully determined to drown her, when the Archdeacon of Auxerre arrived with , or blessed bread, sent her by St. Germanus, as a testimony of his particular esteem for her virtues, and a token of communion. This seems to have happened whilst St. Germanus was absent in Italy in 449, a little before his death. This circumstance, so providentially opportune, converted the prejudices of her calumniators into a singular veneration for her during the remainder of her life. The Franks or French had then possessed themselves of the better part of Gaul, and Childeric, their king, took Paris. During the long blockade of that city, the citizens being extremely distressed by famine, St. Genevieve, as the author of her life relates, went out at the head of a company who were sent to procure provisions, and brought back from Arcis-sur-Aube and Troyes several boats laden with corn. Nevertheless, Childeric, when he had made himself master of Paris, though always a pagan, respected St. Genevieve, and, upon her intercession, spared the lives of many prisoners, and did several other acts of clemency and bounty. Our saint, out of her singular devotion to St. Dionysius and his companions, the apostles of the country, frequently visited their tombs at the borough of Catulliacum, which many think the borough since called St. Denys. She also excited the zeal of many pious persons to build there a church in honour of St. Dionysius, which King Dagobert I afterwards rebuilt with a stately monastery in 629. St. Genevieve likewise performed several pilgrimages, in company with other holy virgins, to the shrine of St. Martin at Tours. These journeys of devotion she sanctified by the exercises of holy recollection and austere penance.
King Clovis, who embraced the faith in 496, listened often with deference to the advice of St. Genevieve, and granted liberty to several captives at her request. Upon the report of the march of Attila with his army of Huns, the Parisians were preparing to abandon their city, but St. Genevieve persuaded them, in imitation of Judith and Hester, to endeavour to avert the scourge, by fasting, watching, and prayer. Many devout persons of her sex passed many days with her in prayer in the baptistry; from whence the particular devotion to St. Genevieve, which is practiced at St. John-le-rond, the ancient public baptistry of the church of Paris, seems to have taken rise. She assured the people of the protection of heaven, and their deliverance; and though she was long treated by many as an impostor, the event verified the prediction, that barbarian suddenly changing the course of his march, probably by directing it towards Orleans.
Our authority attributes to St. Genevieve the first design of the magnificent church which Clovis began to build in honour of SS. Peter and Paul, by the pious counsel of his wife Saint Clotilda, by whom it was finished several years after; for he only laid the foundation a little before his death, which happened in 511 . St. Genevieve died about the same year, probably five weeks after that prince, on the 3rd of January, 512, being eighty-nine years old. Some think she died before King Clovis. The tombs of St. Genevieve and King Clovis were near together. Immediately after the saint was buried, the people raised an oratory of wood over her tomb, as her historian assures us, and this was soon changed into the stately church built under the invocation of SS. Peter and Paul. From this circumstance, we gather that her tomb was situated in a part of this church, which was only built after her death. Her tomb, though empty, is still shown in the subterraneous church, or vault, betwixt those of Prudentius, and St. Ceraunus, Bishop of Paris. But her relics were enclosed by St. Eligius in a costly shrine, adorned with gold and silver, which he made with his own hands about the year 630, as St. Owen relates in his life. The author of the original life of St. Genevieve concludes it by a description of the basilic which Clovis and St. Clotilda erected, adorned with a triple portico, in which were painted the histories of the patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and confessors. This church was several times plundered, and at length burnt, by the Normans. When it was rebuilt, soon after the year 856, the relics of St. Genevieve were brought back. The miracles which were performed there from the time of her burial rendered this church famous all over France, so that at length it began to be known only by her name. The city of Paris has frequently received sensible proofs of the divine protection through her intercession. The most famous instance is that called the miracle of Des Ardens, or of the burning fever. In 1129, in the reign of Louis VI, a pestilential fever, with a violent inward heat, and pains in the bowels, swept off, in a short time, fourteen thousand persons, nor could the art of physicians afford any relief. Stephen, Bishop of Paris, with the clergy and people, implored the divine mercy, by fasting and supplications. Yet the distemper began not to abate till the shrine of St. Genevieve was carried in a solemn procession to the cathedral. During that ceremony many sick persons were cured by touching the shrine, and of all that then lay ill of that distemper in the whole town, only three died, the rest recovered, and no others fell ill. Pope Innocent II coming to Paris the year following, after having passed a careful scrutiny on the miracle, ordered an annual festival in commemoration of it on the 26th of November, which is still kept at Paris. A chapel near the cathedral, called anciently St. Genevieve’s the Little, erected near the house in which she died, afterwards from this miracle, though it was wrought not at this chapel, but chiefly at the cathedral, as Le Beuf demonstrates, was called St. Genevieve Des Ardens, which was demolished in 1747 to make place for the Foundling Hospital. Both before and since that time, it is the custom in extraordinary public calamities to carry the shrine of St. Genevieve, accompanied by those of St. Marcel, St. Aurea, St. Lucan martyr, St. Landry, St. Merry, St. Paxentius, St. Magloire, and others, in a solemn procession to the cathedral; on which occasion the regular canons of St. Genevieve walk barefoot, and at the right hand of the chapter of the cathedral, and the abbot walks on the right hand of the archbishop. The present rich shrine of St. Genevieve was made by the abbot, and the relics enclosed in it in 1242. See the ” Ancient Life of St. Genevieve,” written by an anonymous author, eighteen years after her death, of which the best edition is given by F. Charpentier, a Genevevan regular canon, in octavo, in 1697. It is interpolated in several editions. Bollandus has added another more modern life; see also Tillemont, t. xvi. p. 621, and notes ibid. p 802. Likewise, Gallia Christiana Nova, t. vii. p. 700.
1 Constant. in vit. S. Germani Altiss. lib. i. c. 20.
2 Apud Bolland.
3 De Miraculo Ardentium. See Anonyn apt Bolland. et Brev Paris, ad 26 Nov.