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Genevieve

GENEVIEVE, or Genovefa, ST (c. 422-512), patroness of Paris, lived during the latter half of the 5th century. According to tradition, she was born about 422 at Nanterre near Paris; her parents were called Severus and Gerontia, but accounts differ widely as to their social position. According to the legend, she was only in her seventh year when she was induced by St Germain, bishop of Auxerre, to dedicate herself to the religious life. On the death of her parents she removed to Paris, where she distinguished herself by her benevolence, as well as by her austere life. She is said to have predicted the invasion of the Huns; and when Attila with his army was threatening the city, she persuaded the inhabitants to remain on the island and encouraged them by an assurance, justified by subsequent events, that the attack would come to nothing (451). She is also said to have had great influence over Childeric, father of Clovis, and in 460 to have caused a church to be built over the tomb of St Denis. Her death occurred about 512 and she was buried in the church of the Holy Apostles, popularly known as the church of St Geneviève. In 1793 the body was taken from the new church, built in her honour by Louis XV., when it became the Panthéon, and burnt on the Place de Grève; but the relics were enshrined in a chapel of the neighbouring church of St Etienne du Mont, where they still attract pilgrims; her festival is celebrated with great pomp on the 3rd of January. The frescoes of the Panthéon by Puvis de Chavannes are based upon the legend of the saint.

Bibliography. - The main source is the anonymous Vita s. Genovefae virginis Parisiorum, published in 1687 by D.P. Charpentier. The genuineness of this life was attacked by B. Krusch (Neues Archiv, 1893 and 1894) and defended by L. Duchesne, Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes (1893), Bulletin critique (1897), p. 473. Krusch continued to hold that the life was an 8th-century forgery (Scriptores rer. Merov. iii. 204-238). See A. Potthast, Bibliotheca medii aevi (1331, 1332), and G. Kurth, Clovis, ii. 249-254. The legends and miracles are given in the Bollandists' Acta Sanctorum, January 1st; there is a short sketch by Henri Lesetre, Ste Geneviève, in "Les Saints" series (Paris, 1900).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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