St. Germaine was born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse, France. From her birth, she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed and partially paralyzed right arm and hand coupled with scrofula, a tubercular condition which affected the glands in her neck, and while yet an infant, lost her mother.
Her father soon re- married, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. She saw to it that Germaine was segregated from her siblings and kept away from the home by putting her to work as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches. Once her stepmother left her in a ditch for three days and three nights. Another time, she was left without food for so long that she had to drag herself to the dog’s plate. Again, her stepmother threw a bucket of boiling water over her legs. The children of the stepmother amused themselves by putting ashes in her porridge or sap from a tree in her shoes. If this proved not interesting enough, they tied strings to her braids and pulled with all their strength.
Germaine learned early in life humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of God's presence and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. She had an intense devotion to Our Lady and to the Blessed Sacrament, which sustained her through her trials and suffering.
She spent much time praying, sometimes using a rosary she made from a knotted string. She refused to miss Mass, and if she heard the church bell ring, she set her crook and her distaff in the ground, declared her flock to be under the care of her guardian angel, and went to church; her sheep were unharmed during her absences. It is reported that once she crossed the raging Courbet River by walking over the waters so she could get to church. Germaine was so poor it is hard to imagine she would be able to help others, but she was always ready to help anyone, especially children whom she gathered in the fields to teach a simple catechism and share the little food she had. The locals laughed at her religious devotion and called her 'the little bigot'.
Once in winter her stepmother, Hortense, accused her of stealing bread, and threatened to beat her with a stick. Germaine opened her apron, and summer flowers tumbled out. 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 live as she had.
In 1601, she was found dead on her straw pallet under the stairs, and she was buried in the Church of Pibrac opposite the pulpit. When accidentally exhumed in 1644, during a renovation, her body was found incorrupt.
Documents attest to more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces through the intervention of Saint Germain. They include cures of every kind (of blindness, both congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), and the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845.
Prayer to Saint Germaine
O 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. Amen.
Patronage: abandoned people; abused and neglected children;
disabled people; girls from rural areas; illness; impoverishment; loss of parents.