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Saint Germaine Cousin

Saint Germaine was born in 1579, in the town of Pibrac, France. Her family were not wealthy - they were humble peasants. Her life would not be easy even as an infant. When she was born, she suffered from a deformed hand and a bacterial disease known as scrofula. She lost her mother to illness before the two had time to form lasting memories of each other and when her father remarried she found her new mother to be cruel and merciless towards her. Instead of taking Saint Germaine as a daughter, the new wife convinced Saint Germaine's father that she should be sent away from the home.

She was employed as a shepherdess as a child and could only return home at night where a crude bed awaited her in the stable. In the midst of such unimaginable difficulty, Saint Germaine found solace, love, and happiness in her faith of God. She began adding voluntary mortifications and austerities on top of the already extremely difficult and spartan life she led. Each day when the bell rang she would put her sheep-hook into the ground, leave her flock, and go to the church to attend Holy Mass and the Eucharist. She completely entrusted God with her flock - though the countryside was plagued with wolves and other predators, no harm ever came to her sheep while she left them for Mass.

Whenever she heard the bell for the Angelus, she would immediately drop to her knees, even if it meant kneeling in snow or freezing streams. Her piety became well known through the country side and she would often travel large distances through terrible weather to share her bread allowance with the poor of the land. Eventually her father convinced his wife to allow her to live with them and to have her treated as an equal but Saint Germaine begged to remain in such a humble position. One summer morning in 1601, her father realized he had not heard her rise from her sleep and checked on her, only to find her laying dead on her normal pallet of vine-twigs. Saint Germaine was only 22.

She was buried in the church at Pibrac. When her grave was reopened in 1644, her body was found to be perfectly preserved. A noblewoman had been cured of a ulcer in her breast when she asked for Saint Germaine's intercession and as a thanks offering she donated a lead casket to hold Saint Germaine's remains. In both 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed again and found fresh without decay. Medical evidence has been presented that the preservation was not due to any properties of the soil or of any embalming techniques. The casket was desecrated in 1793 by a revolutionary tinsmith who threw quick-lime and water on the remains. Even after this act, her remains were found still to be totally intact except for where the quick-lime had been splashed.

Miracles had been attributed to Saint Germaine starting from 1644 and nearly 400 miracles or extraordinary graces have been attested to her intercession. In 1845 there was a multiplication of food for a starving community of the Good Shepherd in Bourges that was attributed to her miraculous intercession. Pope Pius IX formally proclaimed her beatification on May 7th, 1854 and proclaimed her a saint three years later on June 29th, 1867. Her feast day is still kept in the Diocese of Toulouse for June 15th of each year.

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