Every-Day Book


January 3.

St. Genevieve, St. Anterus, Pope. St. Gordius. St. Peter Balsam.

St. Genevieve, Patroness of Paris.

Alban Butler affirms that she was born in 422, at Nanterre, four miles from Paris, near the present Calvary there, and that she died a virgin on this day in 512, and was buried in 545, near the steps of the high altar in a magnificent church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, began by Clovis, where he also was interred. Her relics were afterwards taken up and put into a costly shrine about 630. Of course they worked miracles. Her shrine of gold and silver, covered with precious stones, the presents of kings and queens, and with a cluster of diamonds on the top, presented by the intriguing Mary de Medicis, is, on calamitous occasions, carried about Paris in procession, accompanied by shrines equally miraculous, and by the canons of St. Genevieve walking bare-foot.

The miracles of St. Genevieve, as related in the Golden Legend, were equally numerous and equally credible. It relates that when she was a child, St. Germaine said to her mother, "Know ye for certain that on the day of Genevieve's nativity the angels sung with joy and gladness," and looking on the ground he saw a penny signed with the cross, which came there by the will of God; he took it up, and gave it to Genevieve, requiring her to bear in mind that she was the spouse of Christ. She promised him accordingly, and often went to the minster, that she might be worthy of her espousals. "Then," says the Legend, "the mother was angry and smote her on the cheek—God avenged the child, so that the mother became blind," and so remained for one and twenty months, when Genevieve fetched her some holy water, signed her with the sign of the cross, washed her eyes, and she recovered her sight. It further relates, that by the Holy Ghost she showed many people their secret thoughts, and that from fifteen years to fifty she fasted every day except Sunday and Thursday, when she ate beans, and barley-bread of three weeks old. Desiring to build a church, and dedicate it to St. Denis and other martyrs, she required materials of the priests for that purpose. "Dame," answered the priests, "we would; bet we can get no chalk nor lime." She desired them to go to the bridge of Paris, and bring what they found there. They did so till two swineherds came by, one of whom said to the other, "I went yesterday after one of my sows and found a bed of lime;" the other replied that he had also found one under the root of a tree that the wind had blown down. St. Genevieve's priests of course inquired where these discoveries were made, and bearing the tidings to Genevieve the church of St. Denis was began. During its progress the workmen wanted drink, whereupon Genevieve called for a vessel, prayed over it, signed it with the cross, and the vessel was immediately filled; "so," says the Legend, "the workmen drank their belly full," and the vessel continued to be supplied in the same way with "drink" for the workmen till the church was finished. At another time a woman stole St. Genevieve's shoes, but as soon as she got home lost her sight for the theft, and remained blind, till, having restored the shoes, St. Genevieve restored the woman's sight. Desiring the liberation of certain prisoners condemned to death at Paris, she went thither and found the city gates were shut against her, but they opened without any other key than her own presence. She prayed over twelve men in that city possessed with devils, till the men were suspended in the air, and the devils were expelled. a child of four years old fell in a pit and was killed; St. Genevieve only covered her with her mantle and prayed over her, and the child came to life and was baptized at Easter. On a voyage to Spain she arrived at a port "where, as of custom ships were wont to perish." Her own vessel was likely to strike on a tree in the water, which seems to have caused the wrecks; she commanded the tree to be cut down, and began to pray; when lo, just as the tree began to fall, "two wild heads, grey and horrible, issued thereout, which stank so sore, that the people that were there were envenomed by the space of two hours and never after perished ship there; thanks be to God and his holy saint."

At Meaux, a master not fogiving his servant his faults though St. Genevieve prayed him, she prayed against him. He was immediately seized with a hot ague; "on the morrow he came to the holy virgin, running with open mouth like a German bear, his tongue hanging out like a boar, and requiring pardon." She then blessed him, the fever left him and the servant was pardoned. A girl going by with a bottle, St. Genevieve called to her, and asked what she carried, she answered oil, which she had bought; but St. Genevieve seeing the devil sitting on the bottle, blew upon it, and the bottle broke, but the saint blessed the oil, and caused her to bear it home safely notwithstanding. The Golden Legend says, that the people who saw this, marvelled that the saint could see the devil, and were greatly edified.

It was to be expected that a saint o[f] such miraculous powers in her lifetime should possess them after her death, and accordingly the reputation of her relics is very high.

Several stories of St. Genevieve's miraculous faculties, represent them as very convenient in vexatious cases of ordinary occurence; one of these will serve as a specimen. On a dark wet night she was going to church with her maidens with a candle borne before her, which the wind and rain put out; the saint merely called for the candle, and as soon as she took it in her hand it was lighted again, "without any fire of this world."

Other stories of her lighting candles in this way, call to mind a candle, greatly venerated by E. Worsley in a "Discourse of Miracles wrought in the Roman Catholic Church, or, a full Refutation of Dr. Stillingfleet's unjust Exceptions against Miracles," octavo, 1676. At. p. 64, he says, " that the miraculous wax candle, yet seen at Arras, the chief city of Artois, may give the reader entertainment, being most certain, and never doubted of by any. In 1105, that is, much above 569 years ago, (or so great antiquity the candle is,) a merciless plague reigned in Arras. The whole city, ever devout to the Mother of God, experienced her, in this their necessity, to be a true mother of mercy: the manner was thus. The virgin Mary appeared to two men, and enjoined them to tell the bishop of Arras, that on the next Saturday towards morning she would appear in the great church, and put into his hands a wax candle burning; from whence drops of was should fall into a vessel of water prepared by the bishop. She said, moreover, that all the diseased that drank of this water, should forthwith be cured. This truly promised, truly happened. Our blessed Lady appeared all beautiful, having in her hands a wax candle burning, which diffused light over the whole church; this she presented to the bishop; he, blessing it with the sign of the cross, wet it in the urn of water; when drops o[f] wax plentifully fell down into the vessel. The diseased drank of it, all were cured, the contagion ceased, and the candle to this day preserved with great veneration, spends itself, yet loses nothing; and therefore remains still of the same length and greatness it did 500 years ago. A vast quantity of wax, made up of the many drops which fall into the water upon those festival days, when the candle burns, may be justly called a standing, indeficient miracle."

The candle story, though gravely related by a catholic writer, as "not doubted of by any," and as therefore not to be doubted, miraculously failed in convincing the protestant Stillingfleet, that "miracles wrought in the Roman catholic church," ought to be believed.


1639. A manuscript entitled "Commentaries of the Civil Wars, from 1638 to 1648," written by Sir Henry Slingsby, bart. a royalist, intimates the struggle, then approaching, between Charles I. and the nation. He says, "The 3d of January, 1639, I went to Bramham-house, out of curiosity, to see the training of the light-horse, for which service I had sent two horses, by commandment of the lieutenant and sir Joseph Ashley, who is lately come down, with special commission from the king to train and exercise them. These are strange spectacles to this nation in this age, that has lived thus long peaceably, without noise of drum or shot, and after we have stood neuter, and in peace, when all the world besides hath been in arms." The "training" was preparatory to the war with the Scots, the resistance of the commons in parliament, and its levies of troops to oppose the royal will.

"The armourers —————
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Gave dreadful note of preparation;"

the conflict ended in the death of Charles on the scaffold, the interregnum, the restoration, and the final expulsion of the Stuart race.


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