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June 15

St. Germaine Cousin

Saint Germaine Cousin

Laywoman, Virgin

(1579 – 1601)

“Dear God, please don’t let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help me to please you.

Saint Germaine Cousin

Saint’s Life Story

Sickly Child Without a Mother

She was born in 1579, in Pibrac, France, a village 9.3 miles (15 km) from Toulouse. Germaine was the daughter of Laurent Cousin, a farm worker, and his wife, Marie Laroche. Her mother died while she was still an infant. Germaine was sickly child who suffered scrofula among other conditions. She also had a her right hand was deformed.

Her Father Remarried and Started as a Shepherdess

Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. After her stepmother’s children were born, Germaine was kept isolated from her siblings. She slept in the stable or in a cupboard under the stairs and was poorly fed on scraps. At the age of nine, Germaine was put to work as a shepherdess, which is not a terrible business for one who liked to pray.

Devout Youth

Germaine was very devout. Her only book was the Rosary which she rejoiced in reciting every day.  Germaine refused to miss Mass. If she heard the bell calling the faithful to Mass while she was tending the sheep, she set her crook and her distaff in the earth, declared her flock to be under the care of her guardian angel, and went to church. Her sheep never came to any harm during her absences, even though ravening wolves inhabited the nearby forest of Boucône. It is reported that once she crossed the raging Courbet River by walking over the waters so that she could get to church.

Performed Works of Mercy

Germaine was so poor that it is hard to imagine she would have the resources to exercise the corporal works of mercy. Yet, love can always find a way. She shared what little food she received with those poorer than herself.  Germaine’s burning love for God spilled over into love for her neighbors.  She often gatherd the local children about her in the fields and taught them a simple catechism. She was always ready to lend a hand to anyone needing it.

Miraculous Wonders

The neighbors laughed at her religious devotion and called her ‘the little bigot’; Germaine took it all in good humor. Once in the winter, her stepmother accused her of stealing bread and pursued her threateningly with a stick. When Germaine opened her apron, summer flowers tumbled out. The neighbors and her parents were awed and began to treat her as a holy person. Her parents invited her to rejoin the household, but Germaine chose to continue living as before.

Her Death and Incorrupt Body

At 22, she was found dead on her straw pallet under the stairs. Her body was buried in the Church of Pibrac opposite the pulpit. When it was accidentally exhumed in 1644 by workmen renovating the church and identified by the withered hand, it was found incorrupt. After being exposed for one year for veneration, her relics were transferred to a leaden coffin and placed in the sacristy.

Her Relics

Sixteen years later, her body was found to be still well preserved, and many miracles were attributed to her. Her relics remain in the church at Pibrac. An annual pilgrimage is made there. The process of canonization, begun in 1700, was delayed for Germaine because of the intervening French Revolution and similar problems. She was, however, successfully invoked by Popes Pius VII in 1813 and Pius IX in 1849.

Depicted in Art as Peasant Girl

In art, Saint Germaine is depicted as a peasant girl with flowers falling around her in winter. She might also be portrayed tending sheep or dying alone in poverty.

Incorrupy Body

Germaine wasn’t Beatified until May 7, 1854 – 210 years after her incorrupt body had been found. Her Canonization finally took place on 29 June 1867 by Pope Pius IX. Saint Germaine was forgotten, neglected and unloved for most of her life.   Even after her death, it seemed that the Lord purposely kept her well-hidden.   Most Catholics have never heard of her and that includes Religious and Priests.   In our complex and fast-paced world, Germaine’s simplicity, charity and piety don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

Beatified:           May 7, 1864 by Pope Pius IX

Canonized:        June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX

Feast Day:          June 15

Patron Saint:    Abandoned People, Abuse Victims, Disabled; Handicapped; Loss of Parents, Peasant Girls; Shepherdesses; Sick People; Young Country Girls

Source:

Reflection

What is the secret of Saint Germaine? She was truly a “victim of circumstance”. But circumstances have two sides, just as when some people smell flowers and think of a funeral, others smell flowers and think of a spring garden. Throughout life God strews our paths with sufficient graces for our eternal salvation. It is up to each individual, however, to stoop down and pick them up. They are the light spots between the clouds and they grow brighter as they are collected. Saint Germaine is one of the many examples of Saints who have surmounted the obstacles of life and soared to the heights of holiness.

What obstacles do you face today? Will you smell the flowers of a funeral or of a spring garden? Ask for God to grant you sufficent graces to overcome today’s obstackes and grow in holiness.

Source: Adapted from The Story of St. Germaine (olrl.org)

Prayers

Glorious 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. Help us to imitate her virtues during our earthly life and enjoy eternal happiness with her in heaven. 

Saint Germaine Cousin, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Meet a “Cinderella saint,” a powerful intercessor for abused children

All Saints & Martyrs -Saint Germaine Cousin

AnaStpaul -Saint of the Day – 15 June – Saint Germaine Cousin (1579–1601)

Angelus News – Saint of the day: St Germaine Cousin

Catholic Exchange – St Germaine Cousin

Catholic Exchange – A Patron Saint for Abused Children

Catholic Fire – St. Germaine Cousin: Patron of People with Disabilities and Victims of Abuse

Catholic Ireland – St Germaine Cousin of Pibrac (1579-1601)

Catholic News Agency – St. Germaine Cousin Feast Day: Jun 15

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Germaine Cousin

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Germaine Cousin’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Germaine of Pibrac (1579-1601)

Our Lady of the Rosary Library – Saint Germaine

The Saints Project – St Germaine Cousin

Wikipedia – St Germaine Cousin

Video Link

St Germaine Cousin – YouTube (Fr Mark Goring)

The Story of St Germaine Cousin – YouTube (Hello Cuties Kitchen)