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Geneviève, St.


Patroness of Paris, France; b. Nanterre, outside Paris, c. 422; d. c. 500. According to the ancient vita, Geneviève, or Genovefa, on hearing an inspiring sermon by St. germain of auxerre, promised to consecrate her life to God. She was only seven years old at the time. When she was 15, she was received as a virgin before a certain Bishop Vilicus. Her parents died soon after, and Geneviève moved to Paris to live with her godmother. In 451, when Attila's troops were on the outskirts of the city, Geneviève persuaded the citizens of Paris to hold fast and not to leave the city. Her prediction was correct. Attila's troops switched their offensive from Paris and turned toward Orléans, where they were defeated by the Romans and the Franks on the Catalonian fields. Geneviève was buried in the church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, popularly known as the church of St. Geneviève. When the church that had been built in her honor (in 1764) became the Pantheon (1793), most of her relics were destroyed; a center of her veneration today is the church of St. ÉtienneduMont. Frequent claims of her miraculous protection of the city of Paris, including delivery from a pestilence in 1129, contributed to both the literature of devotion and legend during the Middle Ages. The vita has been preserved in three recensions and has been the object of vigorous historical research. Some competent scholars defend its authenticity.

Feast: Jan. 3.

Bibliography: Vita, ed. b. krusch, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 3 (1896) 204238. m. heinzelmann, j. c. poulin, and m. fleury, Les vies anciennes de sainte Geneviève de Paris études critiques (Paris 1986). c. kohler, Étude critique sur Sainte Geneviève (Paris 1881) 547. k. kÜnstle, ed., Vita Sanctae Genovefae (BT; 1910). g. kurth, Études franques, 2 v. (Brussels 1919) 2:196. Acta Sanctorum, Jan. 1:137153. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 6.1:960990. p. viard, Catholicisme 4:182931. e. bourassin, Sainte Geneviève (Monaco 1997). j. dubois and l. beaumontmaillet, Sainte Geneviève de Paris: la vie, la culte, l'art (Paris 1982). h. lesÊtre, Sainte Geneviève (Les Saints 191; Paris 1900). a. richomme, Sainte Geneviève: patronne de Paris (Paris 1979). a. d. sertillanges, Sainte Geneviève (Paris 1917). m. sluhovsky, Patroness of Paris: Rituals of Devotion in Early Modern France (Leiden 1998). y. z. zhang, Der Legendenstoff der heiligen Genoveva in dramatischen Bearbeitungen vom Barock bis zum Realismus (Frankfurt am Main 1998). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

[d. kelleher]

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