ΓΕΝΟΒΕΦΑ (Γενοβέφα, Γενεβιέβη, Γενοβεφα, Γενεβιεβη)
|Η ΑΓΙΑ ΓΕΝΕΒΙΕΒΗ ΤΩΝ ΠΑΡΙΣΙΩΝ
Λεπτομέρειες για τη ζωή αυτής της αγίας της ορθοδοξίας, μπορεί να βρει ό αναγνώστης στο βιβλίο "Ή εν Ορθοδοξία Ηνωμένη Ευρώπη" του Γ.Ε. Πιπεράκη, Έκδ. Έπτάλοφος", Αθήναι 1997.
St. Genevieve of Paris (502)
St. Genevieve (Sainte Genevieve), in Latin Sancta Genovefa, from Germanic keno (kin) and wefa (wife), is the patron saint of Paris in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition. One of the great ascetics of the fifth and sixth centuries, was born in Nanterre, a village on the outskirts of Paris, about the year 422. Most of the information about Genevieve derives from a Life that claims to be by a contemporary; its authenticity and value are the subject of much discussion. The idea that she was primarily a shepherdess is recent and without authority; some evidence suggests that she came from a family of good position. She was a real person, however; her name is entered in Saint Jerome's Martyrology, which makes her cultus very ancient.
Her parents' names were Severus and Gerontia; although popular tradition represents her parents as poor peasants, it is more likely that they were wealthy and respectable townspeople. Genevieve was so bright and attractive that when Saint Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, was visiting the village with Saint Lupus on their way to Britain in 429 to squelch Pelagianism, he took special notice of the seven-year-old. After his sermon, the inhabitants flocked about them to receive their blessings. Germanus beckoned for her parents and foretold her future sanctity. When he asked Genevieve if she wished to be a spouse of Christ and serve God only, she asked that he bless her and consecrate her from that moment. Taking a gold coin from his purse, he gave it to her, telling her to keep it always as a reminder of that day and of God to whom her life belonged. Although in later years Genevieve was often hungry and had no other money, she never parted with the coin. Another version of this meeting tells how the holy bishop went to the church, followed by the people, and during the singing of Psalms and prayers, "he laid his hand upon the maiden's head" thereby consecrating her life to God.
When Genevieve was 15, her parents died and she went to live in Paris with her godmother. She repeated her vows before the bishop of Paris, who gave her the veil along with two other young women. Over time, she became famous for her sanctity. Genevieve loved to pray in church alone at night. One day a gust of wind blew out her candle, leaving her in the dark, but she merely concluded that the devil was trying to frighten her. For this reason Genevieve is often depicted holding a candle, sometimes with an irritated devil standing near. Her bodily denial was so severe that she ate only twice a week—a small portion of barley bread and some beans—and fasted the rest of the time. This fasting continued until age 50 when her bishop commanded her to alter her diet. She experienced visions and prophecies which initially evoked hostility from Parisians to the point that an attempt was made to take her life. But the support of Germanus and the accuracy of her predictions eventually changed their attitudes. Germanus also corrected some of her harsher penances during his visits.
Her bravery rallied the city in 451, when Attila the Hun's army advanced on the city and the citizens were preparing to evacuate. As the Huns battered at the gates of Paris, Genevieve persuaded the men to stay and gathered the women for prayer. Her courage depended on complete trust in God, and she encouraged the Parisians to fast and pray in the hope that God would avert disaster. Many citizens spent whole days in prayer with her in the baptistery. She reassured the people that they had the protection of heaven. She cared for the sick, fed the poor, and everywhere inspired confidence. "God will protect you," she said, "we must trust in Him." At one point, however, when the crisis was at its height and the people were panic-stricken, they turned against her, saying that she was a false prophet who would bring about their destruction, and they threatened to stone her. But the good Bishop Germanus had not forgotten her, and though he lay dying in Ravenna, Italy, he sent his archdeacon Sedulius to pacify the people. Sedulius persuaded the panic-stricken people that Genevieve was not a prophetess of doom, and to listen to her counsel not to abandon their homes. Many of the inhabitants lost heart and fled in panic, but Genevieve once again gathered the women around her, and led them out on to the ramparts of the city, where in the morning light and in the face of the spears of the enemy they prayed to God for deliverance. Providentially, the same night, the invader turned south to Orleans, and the city was saved.
In 486 the saint's bravery proved invaluable for the people of Paris for the second time. King Childeric of the Franks besieged Paris, bringing its inhabitants to the point of starvation. One night, when the city was blockaded and there was a serious shortage of food, Genevieve took a boat and rowed out upon the river into the darkness, either alone or more likely at the head of a company. She slipped silently and secretly past the lines of the enemy, where she went from village to village imploring help and gathering food. She returned to Paris, again successfully evading the enemy, with eleven boatloads of precious corn. Other sources say that night she captained eleven barges to collect grain in the Champagne region. When the siege was over, Childeric, the ever-pagan conqueror, in admiration of her courage, sent for her and asked what he might do for her. "Release your prisoners," she replied. "Their only fault was that they so dearly loved their city."
When Childeric died, Clovis succeeded him and consolidated control of the land from the Rhine to the Loire. He married Childeric's elder daughter, Clothilde, who was a Christian and tried to convert her husband without success. Meanwhile, Genevieve became his trusted counsellor. Clovis entered a harsh battle and promised to be baptized if he should win. He won, and under the influence of Genevieve, he converted in 496. His people and servants followed suit. Clovis became the first Christian king of the Franks, and like Childeric, released many prisoners at Genevieve's request.
Genevieve made many pilgrimages in the company of other maidens to the shrine of Saint Martin of Tours. Her reputation for sanctity was so great that it reached as far away as Syria, to St. Simeon the Stylite. This holy old woman once received a delegation from St. Simeon, who learned of her greatness during prayers and sent visitors to her with words of greeting, asking for her prayers for his salvation.
It was at Genevieve's suggestion, in 511, that Clovis began to build a church to Saints Peter and Paul in the middle of Paris. One authority attributes to St. Genevieve the first design of the magnificent church. Genevieve died in the following year, and when the church was completed, her body was interred within it. Numerous miracles wrought at her tomb caused the church to be later renamed Sainte Genevieve in her honor.
Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris, and invoked against disasters, drought and excessive rain, and fever. In art she is shown as a shepherdess, usually holding a candle -- which the devil is trying to extinguish, while an angel guards it -- or a book or torch. She may have a coin suspended around her neck (the one Germanus gave her). Sometimes she may be shown as a nun with sheep near her, with the devil at her feet with bellows, a key in one hand and candle in the other, or restoring sight to her mother.
Genevieve is not specifically referred to as a Celtic saint in most listings, however, there is reason to believe the Celts knew of her and revered her. Her reputation had spread throughout the then-known world, but she was most notably revered in France, where she was a frequent guest in the monastery of St. Martin of Tours. So many other Celtic notables visited, lived and studied in France and at Tours that it is impossible they were unaware of her. Her reputation for asceticism would have had a strong appeal to contemporaries such as St. Columbanus, whose influence among the Celts is well-recorded, and to others who were heavily influenced by the asceticism of Tours, such as St. Finian. The very name Genevieve is thought to derive from the Gaelic name Genovefa, meaning "white wave," and frequent references to her using this name are further evidence of a Celtic connection for her. Finally, the Celtic tradition is well known for its respect for strong women, especially women whose spiritual power influenced the outcome of great battles and the conversion of powerful rulers. Therefore, it is almost certain that the Celts were aware of Genevieve and held her in high esteem.
She died in the year 512, and her feast day is celebrated on January 3.
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