L'Enfance de Sainte Geneviève" (detailles), 1876 - 1878
St. Genevieve (422-512), was born at Nanterre, a village on the outskirts of Paris, during the time of Attila the Hun. She was a shepherdess, the only child of Severus and Gerontia, hardworking peasants. She was seven years old when Saint Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, was visiting the village with Saint Lupus, on their way to great Britain to combat the heresy of Pelagius. Seeing Genevieve in the crowd, Bishop St. Germain laid his hands on her head, and asked if she wanted to give herself to the Lord. Genevieve said “Yes!” Her mother opposed her decision, which angered Genevieve tremendously. Genevieve’s mother was struck blind until she was forgiven by her daughter. Taking a gold coin from his purse, Saint Germanus gave it to her, telling her to keep it always as a reminder of that day and of God to whom her life belonged.
Saint Genevieve keeping her sheep, from 1575 until 1600
Carnavalet Museum, Paris
Sainte Genevieve, c. 1887
Oil on canvas
82 x 66 in
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA
On the deaths of her parents, she went to live with her godmother Lutetia in Paris, where she became a nun and dedicated herself to a Christian life. (Coincidentally, "Lutetia" was the former name of the city of Paris). 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, who visited her again, and the accuracy of her predictions eventually changed their attitudes. (Germanus also corrected some of her harsher penances during this visit.)
Detail from Saints Genevieve and Apollonia, c. 1506
This painting is part of the group: The St Catherine Altarpiece: Reverses of Shutters
Saint Genevieve of Paris holds the candle which she miraculously relit. On the brooch at her neck are the alpha and omega signs.
Oil on lime
120.5 x 63 cm
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London
Saint Genevieve, Defender of Paris
Musée Carnavalet, Salle Henri III, Paris
In 451, When Attila the Hun approached Paris, with the help of Germanus' archdeacon, she upbraided the panic-stricken people of Paris who wanted to leave town. She reassured the people that they had the protection of heaven. Many of the inhabitants lost heart and fled in panic, but Geneviève 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.
St. Genevieve Bringing Supplies to the City of Paris after the Siege - Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
When Childeric I ( 440 – 481/482) (A Merovingian king of the Salian Franks) besieged the Paris in 464 and conquered it, she acted as an intermediary between the city and its conqueror.
Geneviève took a boat and rowed out alone (more likely at the head of a company) upon the river into the darkness to Arcis-sur-Aube and Troyes. She slipped silently and secretly past the lines of the enemy, landing at dawn far outside the city, where she went from village to village imploring help and gathering food, and returned to Paris--again successfully evading the enemy--with eleven boatloads of precious corn. (Other sources say that nightly she captained eleven barges to collect grain in the Champagne region.).
Clovis 1st king of the Franks (465-511), c. 1837
Oil on canvas
Height: 145.5 cm (57.2 ″); Width: 92 cm (36.2 ″)
Palace of Versailles
"Sainte Clotilde urging Clovis before the battle"
Geneviève 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 Geneviève, he converted in 496. His people and servants followed suit.
Pierre-Louis Delaval, born April 27, 1790 in Paris where he died around 1870, is a French painter.
The Baptism of Clovis, c. 1500
National Gallery of Art, Washington
By the time she died King Clovis of the Franks had grown to venerate the saint. It was at Geneviève's suggestion that Clovis began to build the church of SS. Peter and Paul in the middle of Paris, where they interred her body. Later the church was renamed Sainte Geneviève and it was rebuilt in 1746.
Miracles of the Ardents, c. 1773
Church of St Genevieve at St Roch
Miracle des Ardens or burning fever (ergot-poisoning) in 1129. Bishop Stephen of Paris had her shrine carried through the streets in solemn procession. Many thousands of the sick who saw or touched the shrine were immediately cured, and only several deaths from the plague were said to have occurred thereafter.
Gabriel François Doyen (1726 – 5 June 1806) was a French painter, who was born at Paris.
He became an artist against his father's wishes, becoming a pupil at the age of twelve of Charles-André van Loo. Making rapid progress, he obtained at twenty the Grand Prix de Rome, and in 1748 set out for Rome, then visited Naples, Bologna and, crucially, Venice. While in the latter city Doyen was greatly influenced by the work of the famous colourists, such as Titian.
In 1755 he returned to Paris and, at first unappreciated and disparaged, he resolved by one grand effort to achieve a reputation, and in 1758 he exhibited his Death of Virginia. It was completely successful, and procured him admission to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Doyen was also influenced by Peter Paul Rubens after a visit to Antwerp. This influence is, perhaps, best displayed in his Le Miracle des ardents, painted for the church of St Genevieve at St Roch (1767). This painting was exhibited in the salon of 1767. In 1776 he was appointed professor at the Academy.
During the initial stages of the French Revolution he became active in the national museum project; however in 1791 he left France for Russia on the invitation of Catherine II of Russia. He settled in St Petersburg, where he was much honoured by the Imperial family and Russian art establishment. He died there on 5 June 1806. More on Gabriel François Doyen
Prise de la Bastille/ The Storming of the Bastille, c. 1789
When the Bastille was taken, people again came to thank her. In 1790, the Commune went to her church for Mass.