Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo
Image of St. Germaine Cousin

Facts

Feastday: June 15

Patron victims of child abuse

Birth: 1579

Death: 1601


When Hortense decided to marry Laurent Cousin in Pibrac, France, it was not out of love for his infant daughter. Germaine was everything Hortense despised. Weak and ill, the girl had also been born with a right hand that was deformed and paralyzed. Hortense replaced the love that Germaine has lost when her mother died with cruelty and abuse.

Laurent, 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 Hortense left Germaine in a drain while she cared for chickens -- and forgot her for three days. He didn't even interfere when Hortense poured boiling water on Germaine's legs.

With this kind of treatment, it's no surprise that Germaine became even more ill. She came down with a disease known as scrofula, a kind of tuberculosis that causes the neck glands to swell up. Sores began to appear on her neck and in her weakened condition to fell prey to every disease that came along. Instead of awakening Hortense's pity this only made her despise Germaine more for being even uglier in her eyes.

Germaine found no sympathy and love with 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.

Hortense did finally get concerned about Germaine's sickness -- because she was afraid her own children would catch it. So she made Germaine sleep out in the barn. The only warmth Germaine had on frozen winter nights was the woolly sheep who slept there too. The only food she had were the scraps Hortense might remember to throw her way.

The abuse of Germaine tears at our hearts and causes us to cry for pity and justice. But it was Germaine's response to that abuse and her cruel life that wins our awe and veneration.

Germaine was soon entrusted with the sheep. No one expected her to have any use for education so she spent long days in the field tending the sheep. Instead of being lonely, she found a friend in God. She didn't know any theology and only the basics of the faith that she learned the catechism. But she had a rosary made of knots in string and her very simple prayers: "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." Out of that simple faith, grew a profound holiness and a deep trust of God.

And she had the most important prayer of all -- the Mass. Every day, without fail, she would leave her sheep in God's care and go to Mass. Villagers wondered that the sheep weren't attacked by the wolves in the woods when she left but God's protection never failed her. One day when the rains had swollen the river to flood stage, a villager saw the river part so that she could cross to get to the church in time for Mass.

No matter how little Germaine had, she shared it with others. Her scraps of food were given to beggars. Her life of prayer became stories of God that entranced the village children.

But most startling of all was the forgiveness to showed to the woman who deserved her hatred.

Hortense, furious at the stories about her daughter's holiness, waited only to catch her doing wrong. One cold winter day, after throwing out a beggar that Germaine had let sleep in the barn, Hortense caught Germaine carrying something bundled up in her apron. Certain that Germaine had stolen bread to feed the beggar, she began to chase and scream at the child. As she began to beat her, Germaine opened her apron. Out tumbled what she had been hiding in her apron -- bright beautiful flowers that no one had expected to see for months. Where had she found the vibrant blossoms in the middle of the ice and snow? There was only one answer and Germaine gave it herself, when she handed a flower to her mother and said, "Please accept this flower, Mother. God sends it to you in sign of his forgiveness."

As the whole village began to talk about this holy child, even Hortense began to soften her feelings toward her. She even invited Germaine back to the house but Germaine had become used to her straw bed and continued to sleep in it. There she was found dead at the age of 22, overcome by a life of suffering.

With all the evidence of her holiness, her life was too simple and hidden to mean much beyond her tiny village -- until God brought it too light again. When her body was exhumed forty years later, it was found to be undecayed, what is known as incorruptible. As is often the case with incorruptible bodies of saints, God chooses not the outwardly beautiful to preserve but those that others despised as ugly and weak. It's as if God is saying in this miracle that human ideas of beauty are not his. To him, no one was more beautiful than this humble lonely young woman.

After her body was found in this state, the villagers started to speak again of what she had been like and what she had done. Soon miracles were attributed to her intercession and the clamor for her canonization began.

In this way, the most unlikely of saints became recognized by the Church. She didn't found a religious order. She didn't reach a high Church post. She didn't write books or teach at universities. She didn't go to foreign lands as a missionary or convert thousands. What she did was live a life devoted to God and her neighbor no matter what happened to her. And that is all God asks.

In Her Footsteps:

Do you make excuses not to help others because you have so little yourself? Share something this week with those in need that may be painful for you to give up.

Prayer:

Saint Germaine, watch over those children who suffer abuse as you did. Help us to give them the love and protection you only got from God. Give us the courage to speak out against abuse when we know of it. Help us to forgive those who abuse the way you did, without sacrificing the lives of the children who need help. Amen



More about St. Germaine Cousin from Wikipedia

St. Germaine Cousin Comments




More Saints





Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

23.

Image of St. Peter, First Pope

St. Peter, First Pope

Simon Peter or Cephas, the first pope, Prince of the Apostles, and founder, with St. Paul, of the see of Rome. Peter was a native of Bethsaida, near Lake Tiberias, the son of John, and ... continue reading | shop

24.

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the ... continue reading | shop

25.

Image of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Bayley Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Born two years before the American Revolution, Elizabeth grew up in the ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of Bl. Miguel Pro

Bl. Miguel Pro

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez. Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day
November 2014
S M T W T F S
1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Elizabeth

St. Elizabeth

Not much information is known about Elizabeth, but she has the distinction of being one of the first to know about Mary's great blessing as the Mother of God. Zachary was a priest in Jerusalem whose wife, Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, was beyond child-bearing age. He ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Catherine de Ricci

St. Catherine de Ricci

St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her baptismal name was Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine upon entering religion. From her earliest infancy she manifested a great love of ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for Bl. Alvarez of Corova

Bl. Alvarez of Corova

Alvarez was born in either Lisbon, Portugal, or Cordova, Spain. He entered the Dominican convent at Cordova in 1368. He became known for his preaching prowess in Spain and Italy, was confessor and ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of St. Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila: Virgin and Doctor of Prayer

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

St. Teresa's whole life is one of simple beauty and fervent purpose; it is a life contained in Christ. She shows us how to live the same way through Prayer.On reading from St. Teresa, a deep feeling of her love for His Majesty envelops us; we begin, in a very real, ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter