The Tenth Day of Christmas


From the Chambers’ Book of Days


Sainte Geneviève, who has occupied, from the time of her death to the present day, the distinguished position of Patroness Saint of the city of Paris, lived in the fifth century, when Christianity, under corrupted forms, was contending with paganism for domination over the minds of rude and warlike races of men. Credible facts of this early period are few, obscure, and not easily separated from the fictions with which they have been combined; but the following principal events of the life of St. Geneviève may be taken as probably authentic: She was born in the year 422, at Nanterre, a village about four miles from Paris. At the early age of seven years she was consecrated to the service of religion by St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, who happened to pass through the village, and was struck with her devotional manners. At the age of fifteen years she received the veil from the hands of the Archbishop of Paris, in which city she afterwards resided. By strict observance of the services of the Church, and by the practice of those austerities which were then regarded as the surest means of obtaining the blessedness of a future state, she acquired a reputation for sanctity which gave her considerable influence over the rulers and leaders of the people.

When the Franks under Clovis had subdued the city of Paris, her solicitations are said to have moved the conqueror to acts of clemency and generosity. The miracles ascribed to St. Geneviève may be passed over as hardly likely to obtain much credence in the present age. The date of her death has been fixed on January 3rd, 512, five months after the decease of king Clovis. She was buried near him in the church of St, Peter and St. Paul, since named the church of Sainte Genevieve. The present handsome structure was completed in 1764. During the revolutionary period it was withdrawn from the services of religion, and named the Pantheon, but has since been restored to ecclesiastical uses and to its former name of Sainte Genevieve. Details of her life are given in Bollandus’s ‘Acta Sanctorum,’ and in Butler’s ‘Lives of the Saints.’