Sainte-Geneviève-de-Paris, Monastery of
SAINTE-GENEVIÈVE-DE-PARIS, MONASTERY OF
The Monastery of Sainte-Geneviève-De-Paris, former monastery of Victorine canons, then canons of Sainte-Geneviève,
the present day Panthéon on the Left Bank in Paris. It began as a Merovingian foundation of clovis i and clotilde, who, on the suggestion of St. geneviÈve, built a church dedicated to St. Peter and the other Apostles in the neighborhood of Paris (c. 506). Since Geneviève's relics were in the crypt of the church, it gradually became known as St. Geneviève's rather than St. Peter's. The clergy, or canons regular, of the church lived a common life under an abbot. Under the Carolingians Sainte-Geneviève lost its preeminence to saint-denis-en-france. In the 9th century the normans burned the monastery, but the canons escaped with the relics of St. Geneviève. In the next centuries, the canons were secularized under a decanus or superior who held the political prerogatives of lord of the faubourg Sainte-Geneviève along the Left Bank, exercising justice and enjoying episcopal exemption. The chancellor at the School of Sainte-Geneviève granted the licentia docendi, and before the end of the 11th century founded the "Latin quarter" for liberal arts schools; during the next century, however, this school was eclipsed by the nascent University of Paris. In 1148 Victorine canons were introduced into Sainte-Geneviève; the ensuing revival resulted in a new Scandinavian foundation (see william of aebel-holt, st.) and in the rebuilding and reformation of Sainte-Geneviève itself under stephen of tournai. The monastery, however, always remained secondary to nearby saint-victor.
A new reliquary for St. Geneviève was made in 1242; the forged reliquary of 1614 was later destroyed in the French Revolution. The 13th-century poem honoring St. Geneviève, written by the Canon Renaut, proved one of the most popular pieces of medieval French vernacular verse. In the 14th century, the young canons within the monastery were trained according to the rules of benedict xii. To students outside the monastery but within the jurisdiction of Sainte-Geneviève, the abbey's chancellor, with the help of four professors chosen by him, could grant the licentia (in competition with the University of Paris). Once again, in 1619, the Abbey was reformed, this time by Cardinal François de la rochefoucauld, with the help of Canon Faure and several religious of Senlis. It became the head of the Canonical Congregation of France, including the monasteries of val-des-ecoliers, the Chancelade, and Saint-Victor itself. Superiors in this order were appointed for only three years, and the regulations of the Council of trent were observed. A large library (which still exists) was provided for the young canons, whose training included two years of arts, two of philosophy, and three of theology. Many canons of the order of Sainte-Geneviève attended lectures at the universities and are known in literary history. In 1757 Sainte-Geneviève began construction of a new church alongside the old; it was not yet completed when the French Revolution confiscated it and transformed it into the Panthéon. The old church was destroyed and a part of the monastery became the present Lyceum Henry IV.
Bibliography: Gallia Christiana, v. 1–13 (Paris 1715–85), (Paris 1856–65) 7:699–815. p. feret, L'Abbaye de Sainte-Geneviève et la congrégation de France, 2 v. (Paris 1883). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 13.2:1875–77. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 2:2206. p. broutin, La Réforme pastorale en France au XVII e siècle, 2 v. (Tournai 1956).