By Kelly Legg
A canonized saint honored as a special protector is known as a patron saint. A patron saint may also be a benefactor of persons in a certain occupation or a guardian of those who bear the saint’s name. A patron saint may be invoked to intercede with God for help in a time of special need.
This month we are learning some interesting history about St. Genevieve. St. Genevieve was born around the year 422 near Paris, France. Several years later, St. Germanus of Auxerre made an overnight stop at St. Genevieve’s hometown. In the crowd that gathered to hear him speak, Germanus spotted Genevieve, who was a beautiful 7-year-old girl. He predicted her future holiness and asked if she wanted to dedicate her life to God. She accepted and he laid hands on her with a blessing, launching the spiritual career of one of France’s most admired saints.
At 15 years-old, Genevieve formally dedicated herself as a virgin. Because of her generous giving to the poor, she became widely known in the vicinity around Paris. During these years, she reportedly served as a spiritual protector of the people and rescued them from starvation and war.
Once when the Franks were besieging Paris, Genevieve rescued the city from starvation by leading a convoy of ships up the river to obtain food. During the return voyage, the winds were so strong, the ships were tipping and taking on water. Quickly Genevieve stretched her hands toward heaven and begged God for assistance. Immediately the ships were righted.
When Attila the Hun was reported to be marching on Paris, the inhabitants of the city prepared to evacuate, but Genevieve persuaded them to avert the battle by fasting and prayer, assuring them of the protection of Heaven. The barbarian suddenly changed the course of his march.
The life of St. Genevieve was one of strictness, constant prayer and works of charity. One of her symbols is a loaf of bread because she was so generous to those in need. She died in the year 512 and was buried in the church of St. Peter and Paul at Paris. So many miracles occurred through her life there that it became a pilgrimage spot and came to be called St. Genevieve.
Stay tuned for next month’s saint: Saint Sebastian.