Saint Germaine Cousin

This weeks Saint of the Week is Saint Germaine Cousin, (1579-1601), living in 16th Century France, Saint Germaine’s life was a true-life Cinderella story, and the rescuing Prince is our Lord Jesus Christ!  Saint Germaine’s mother died when she was very young.  His father, Laurent, re-married a woman named Hortence, who showed no sympathy, whatsoever, for his sickly young daughter, who had a deformity in her right hand.  Saint Germaine was ostracized from the family, and even had to share food with the dog, to keep from starving.  Hortence even scalded her with hot water as punishment for perceived transgressions.  This mistreatment caused Saint Germaine to become ill with tuberculosis which isolated her even further from the family. Hortence did not want her around her own children, out of fear that she might make them sick as well.  Her half-sibling’s, influenced by their mother’s contempt for Saint Germaine, also treated her cruelly.

Saint Germaine was made to sleep under the stairs and eventually in the barn with the animals.     She was not considered worthy of education and was relegated to spending her days alone, tending to the sheep in the fields.  Saint Germaine wasn’t embittered by the cruelty and isolation by her family.  In fact, she lived a very devout life of prayer, attended Mass daily and prayed the Holy Rosary with a knotted string.  Saint Germaine would drive her shepherd’s staff into the ground when she left the sheep to go to Mass.  Amazingly, the sheep stayed in the immediate area of her staff until she returned.  Saint Germain’s reputation for holiness grew and with it the ire of her step-mother, who resented her holy reputation among the townspeople.

On one cold winter day, Hortence discovered a beggar taking shelter in the barn where Saint Germain slept.  Hortence accused Saint Germaine of stealing some food from the beggar and hiding it under her apron.  Hortence went into a rage and began beating the girl causing a bouquet of flowers to fall out of her apron.  As it was mid-winter, the flowers were well out of season and when Hortence demanded to know where they came from, Saint Germaine told her, "Please accept this flower, Mother. God sends it to you in sign of his forgiveness.”  

This incident finally softened the heart of her step-mother, who even invited Hortence back into the family home.  Saint Germaine elected to stay in the barn, where she died in her sleep at only 22 years of age.  Her death was due, in large part, to the many hardships she endured during her short life.

Saint Germaine’s story doesn’t end there.  Forty years later her grave was reopened and she was found to be in the same condition it was in when she was buried, making her another of the incorruptible Holy Saints of the Church whose bodies remain miraculously preserved after death. Many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  She was canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 29, 1867.

Feast Day:  June 15th

Patron of: Abandoned people; abuse victims; against poverty; disabled people; girls from rural areas; illness; impoverishment; loss of parents; shepherdesses; sick people; unattractive people; physical therapists

O Saint Germaine, look down from Heaven and intercede for the many abused children in our world.  Help them to sanctify these sufferings.  Strengthen children who suffer the effects of living in broken families.  Protect those children who have been abandoned by their parents and live in the streets.  Beg God’s mercy on the parents who abuse their children.  Intercede for handicapped children and their parents.  Saint Germaine, you who suffered neglect and abuse so patiently, pray for us.  Amen

Saint Germaine Cousin, pray for us!

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