Faith and inspiration: Encyclopedia of saints for today

Saint Germaine Cousin (1579-1601). Feast Day: 15June

Germaine, a simple and pious young girl, was born to humble parents in Pibrac, France a village about ten miles from Toulouse. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula, and, while yet an infant, her mother died.

Her father remarried soon after the death of her mother, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretense of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret.

Her father, who had a weak character, pretended not to notice that Germaine had been given so little food that she had learned to crawl in order to get to the dog’s dish. He wasn’t there to protect her when his wife left Germaine in a drain while she cared for chickens—and forgot her for three days. He didn’t even interfere when his wife poured boiling water on Germaine’s legs. Germaine received no sympathy and love from her siblings. Watching their mother’s treatment of their half-sister, they learned how to despise and torment her, putting ashes in her food and pitch in her clothes. Their mother found this very entertaining.

In this hard school Germaine learned early to practice humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvelous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigors of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she attended Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks.

Whenever she could do so, she assembled the children of the village around her and sought to instill into their minds the love of Jesus and Mary. The villagers were inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God’s grace made her an object of reverence and awe. Notwithstanding her poverty, she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with the other children, but she begged to be allowed to remain in the humbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father finding that she had not risen at the usual hour went to call her; he found her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was then only twenty-two years of age.

Bibliography:

“St. Germaine Cousin”. The Catholic Sun, Saints. (May 2019, 5).

“St. Germaine Cousin”. New Advent. Web. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06474a.htm

“St. Germaine Cousin”. Catholic Online. Web. https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=52

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