I have taken the liberty of translating this piece in order to honour my patron saint:
On January 3, 2012, we mark the 1500th anniversary of the death of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. For all Parisians, the name of the saint is associated with the mountain where she was buried and which remained throughout the centuries the radiant center of French intelligence. King Louis XV erected on the summit a beautiful basilica dedicated to Saint Geneviève (designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot) although the Revolution of 1789 desecrated the building, creating the Panthéon in which to house the "big men" ... But never mind.
This saint was Gallo-Roman, born of a Gallic mother and Frankish father in Nanterre between 420 and 423. As a child, around 429, she was noticed for her "piety and heavenly beauty" by Saint Germain, bishop of Auxerre, who was passing through, accompanied by Saint Loup, bishop of Troyes, on their way to fight the Pelagian heresy in Brittany. The prelate then hung around her neck a coin marked with a cross, a sign of her promise of virginal consecration. Shortly afterwards, the death of her parents forced her to move to Nanterre, first to live with her godmother in Lutèce,and subsequently to head a community there. Distributing as alms the money inherited from the vast estates of her parents, she subsisted on beans and barley loaves, performing extraordinary miracles, including healing many who were blind or lame. This attracted not only praise from the population, but led them to understand that they should place all their hope in God alone, for the pagans were too materialistic and the Christians too discouraged by the situation of their city which was prey to Visigothic invasions.
The fate of Lutèce was indeed precarious, being the last Roman enclave under the protection of the patrician Ætius, head of the Roman militia. And then it came to pass in 451 that the terrible Attila the Hun, known as the "scourge of God," appeared in Gaul at the head of 500 000 fierce warriors. On April 7th, he had put the people of Metz to the sword. At Lutèce, men spoke fleeing, and only Genevieve, aged twenty-eight, encouraged them to resist. She managed to convince a group of women to pray, fast and refuse their husbands as cowards if they did not resist. What women want ...
The fact remained that Attila, having failed to take Troyes which was strongly defended by its bishop, Saint Loup, rushed but not on to Lutèce, but to Orléans, where he met with the resistance of Saint Aignan, another intrepid prelate. One must remember that Ætius had been raised as a hostage of honor among the Huns and was therefore thoroughly familiar with the practices of the children of the steppes; and Attila, for his part, believed himself destined to seize the Roman Empire was fully aware of the Greco-Roman education. The confrontation in that sense took on a symbolic value.
The battle took place two weeks later, near Troyes in the Catalonian fields, where Attila was defeated but not crushed. Geneviève had contributed to the victory by helping the Gauls not to panic. Peace, though, was still quite uncertain. From 476, the puppet emperor Romulus Augustus was disposed towards Odoacer, the king of the Heruli who was allied with the Huns, and who would later entrust his imperial insignia to Zeno, the Eastern Roman Emperor. A barbarian entering Rome! A whole world was collapsing!
Geneviève did not lose hope: Rome was revived under the sign of the Cross! But the bishops of Gaul, who could no longer count on Roman order to save civilization, instead began to place their hopes in the Frankish kings, descendants of Merovingia. Although they were still somewhat pagan and cruel, at least they were less so than the other invaders, the Visigoths and Burgundians, whose religion was Arianism. If Childeric, a great admirer of Roman civilization, or his son Clovis born in 466, succeeded, since they had the stature to reunite Gaul -- providing the greatest potential for unity since Saint Martin -- this could provide the bulwark to advance a Christian kingdom that covered the Western Roman Empire! Geneviève would participate in the realization of this grand design.
She held Childeric in high esteem, and upon his death in 481 she turned her affections towards the young Clovis, then aged fifteen, and who was soon to slay Syagrius, distant successor of Ætius, who was merely an embarrassing shadow. Clovis was preparing to enter Lutèce, which he envisioned as his capital, but Geneviève tried to forbid him, insisting that he should be baptized. And yet we know that her wish had to wait until Queen Clotilde became her friend and Remi, bishop of Reims, could convince the young king to be baptized at Rheims at Christmas 496.
Despite her advanced age - she was to live to be over ninety - Geneviève remained the confidante of the royal couple, and the most revered person in Lutèce, which subsequently began to be called Paris. Clovis had begun construction on the Mount of the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, where he himself was buried in November 511. Geneviève joined him on January 3rd, 512. Queen Clotilde was to join them much later, in 544. But Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, continues from her mountain to protect the capital against all the modern "scourges of God" can not be invoked too often.
The parallels with our own time could not be more obvious, and I encourage women everywhere to take even more seriously their ability to instill courage by means of prayer, fasting and living the feminine genius. Bonne fête!