I accidentally watched a moving video online which I wanted to share with all of you. The story inspired me that I searched more about the life of St. Germain from France and which I am sharing in this post too.
Set in 16th Century France, the movie, Germaine: Requiem of a Soul, recounts the life of Saint Germaine Cousin, a poor shepherd girl who was physically and mentally abused by her stepmother and ostracized from society due to an unsightly skin condition. Though shunned and abused, her faith in Jesus and her charity towards the poor allowed her to transcend her physical suffering, and grow in holiness. She performed many miracles, and was exhumed incorrupt forty years after her death. (Note: The video runs 30 mins)
Germaine was from the village of Pibrac near Toulouse, France (1579-1601). She was born with a paralyzed right hand and afflicted with scrofula. Germaine passed her life under the authority of a stepmother, who detested her, beat her, mistreated her, and kept her apart from her brothers and sisters. Her father, Laurent Cousin, had no special affection for his daughter and ignored her sufferings. Since she was not considered good enough to stay in the house with the family, he gave her a small five-foot spot under the stairway of the barn as a place to sleep. Her bed was leaves and twigs on the floor, and her food only black bread and water. She was in charge of watching the family’s flock during the day. She was also given an allotment of wool to spin while the sheep were grazing. If she did not meet the expected quota, she was severely punished.
As a shepherdess, Germaine spent much time praying. Often the villagers laughed at her devotions, and mocked her for her misery. Her only answer was silence.
She took a great care to never lose her pleasant composure in face of her sufferings and misery. She never asked God to free her from that difficult situation, even when she knew that He would listen to her prayers. In fact, God worked many miracles through her to show His pleasure with her.
During her working day, she always went to Mass. When she heard the bells ringing, she would set her crook in the ground and run to the church, leaving the care of her flock to the Divine Shepherd. Her trust was never betrayed: not one of her sheep was ever lost or caused any damage to the neighbors’ lands. Further her flock was the healthiest and best looking in the area.
One day, after a strong rain the creek had become a raging stream, making it impossible for her to reach the church. Two peasants of the region who knew her custom to attend daily Mass came to laugh at her predicament. Instead of mocking her however, they saw the poor shepherdess walk straight toward the river without any hesitation. As she set her foot in the raging stream, the waters separated, allowing her to cross, just as the waters of the Jordan had opened for the Ark of the Covenant to pass. After she reached the other side, the waters returned to their tumultuous course. The peasants watched this with awe and fear, and then reported the miracle to the whole village.
Germaine also multiplied loaves of bread, as Our Lord did.
One winter day, she put some small pieces of bread in her apron to give to the poor. Accusing her of theft, her stepmother stopped her and threatened to beat her with a rod. In a great fury, she approached the girl, hurling every insult at her. Two inhabitants of Pibrac saw what was happening and went to protect the girl against the stepmother’s fury. They saw her stepmother order Germaine to open her apron, and instead of pieces of bread, a magnificent bouquet of beautiful and flagrant flowers tumbled out. No garden in Pibrac had every produced such flowers, and this was in the dead of winter.
One night, two traveling monks decided to take refuge for the night in a forest near Pibrac. They were sleeping when they were suddenly awakened by the sound of a marvelous singing. They looked and saw a group of virgins amidst a splendorous light who were passing through the forest toward Pibrac. The vision disappeared, but after a while the group appeared again. This time the cortege of virgins was coming from Pibrac, but one more virgin had joined the group.
It was Germaine, wearing on her forehead a crown of fresh flowers. The monks were charmed by this heavenly vision and spread news of it everywhere.
The following morning, Germaine did not appear to take charge of the sheep. Her father went to seek her in the cubicle, and found her dead on her simple pallet under the stairs. She had fallen into her final earthly sleep.
Today the relics of St. Germaine of Cousin are venerated in the Chapel of St. Francis de Sales in Pibrac. More than 400 miracles were credited to her intercession in the processes of canonization. The site with her relics became the object of frequent pilgrimage, and the deliverance of two Popes from their captivities – Pius VII and Pius IX – are attributed to her intercession.
|The rekucs of St. Germaine in the St. Francis Sales Chapel in Pibrac|
Prayers to St. Germaine
Saint Germaine, look down from Heaven and intercede for the many abused children in our world. Help them to sanctify their 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 anyone who abuses children. Intercede for handicapped children and their parents.
Saint Germaine, you who suffered neglect and abuse so patiently, pray for us. Amen.
Remember us, blessed Germaine, your brothers and sisters who labor and suffer in this difficult world. Know that we place our hope in you, ask for your help in our need, and for consolation in our suffering. Hear us as we ask you to be with us in our time of trial. You experienced much pain, isolation, humiliation, and suffering. Now from your place of glory please look with kindness upon our sorrows. In your happiness, remember our tears.
Form us in the way of your humility, your patience, your faith, and your charity.
And then, at the hour of our death, welcome us to our eternal home.