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GENEVIEVE, or GENOVEFA, ST (c. 422-512)

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 594 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GENEVIEVE, or GENOVEFA, ST (c. 422-512), patroness of Paris, lived during the latter half of the 5th century. According 'to tradition, she was born about 422 at Nanterre near Paris; her parents were called Severus and Gerontia, but accounts differ widely as to their social position. According to the legend, she was only in her seventh year when she was induced by St Germain, bishop of Auxerre, to dedicate herself to the religious life. On the death of her parents she removed to Paris, where she distinguished herself by her benevolence, as well as by her austere life. She is said to have predicted the invasion of the Huns; and when Attila with his army was threatening the city, she persuaded the inhabitants to remain on the island and encouraged them by an assurance, justified by subsequent events, that the attack would come to nothing (451). She is also said to have had great influence over Childeric, father of Clovis, and in 46o to have caused a church to be built over the tomb of St Denis. Her death occurred about 512 and she was buried in the church of the Holy Apostles, popularly known as the church of St Genevieve. In 1793 the body was taken from the new church, built in her honour by Louis XV., when it became the Pantheon, and burnt on the Place de Greve; but the relics were enshrined in a chapel of the neighbouring church of St Etienne du Mont, where they still attract pilgrims; her festival is celebrated with great pomp on the 3rd of January. The frescoes of the Pantheon by Puvis de Chavannes are based upon the legend of the saint. Forgery Krusch continued to hold that the life was an 8th-century forgery (Scriptures rer. Merov. iii. 204-238). See A. Potthast, Bibliotheca medii aevi (1331, 1332), and G. Kurth, Clovis, ii. 249-254. The legends and miracles are given in the Bollandists'ActaSanctorum, January 1st; there is a short sketch by Henri Lesetre, Ste Genevieve, in " Les Saints " series (Paris, 1900). GENEVIEVE, GENOVEVA or GENOVEFA, OF BRABANT, heroine of medieval legend. Her story is a typical example of the widespread tale of the chaste wife falsely accused and repudiated, generally on the word of a rejected suitor. Genovefa of Brabant was said to be the wife of the palatine Siegfried of Treves, and was falsely accused by the majordomo Golo. Sentenced to death she was spared by the executioner, and lived for six years with her son in a cave in the Ardennes nourished by a roe. Siegfried, who had meanwhile found out Golo's treachery, was chasing the roe when he discovered her hiding-place, and reinstated her in her former honour. Her story is said to rest on the history of Marie of Brabant, wife of Louis II., duke of Bavaria, and count-palatine of the Rhine, who was tried by her husband and beheaded on the 18th of January 1256, for supposed infidelity, a crime for which Louis afterwards had to do penance. The change in name may have been due to the cult of St Genevieve, patroness of Paris. The tale first obtained wide popularity in L' Innocence reconnue, ou vie de Sainte Genevieve de Brabant (pr. 1638) by the Jesuit Rene de Cerisier (1603-1662), and was a frequent subject for dramatic representation in Germany. With Genovefa's history may be compared the Scandinavian ballads of Ravengaard og Memering, which exist in many recensions. These deal with the history of Gunild, who married Henry, duke of Brunswick and Schleswig. When Duke Henry went to the wars he left his wife in charge of Ravengaard, who accused her of infidelity. Gunild is cleared by the victory of her champion Memering, the " smallest of Christian men." The Scottish ballad of Sir Aldingar is a version of the same story. The heroine Gunhilda is said to have been the daughter of Canute the Great and Emma. She married in ro36 King Henry, afterwards the emperor Henry III., and there was nothing in her domestic history to warrant the legend, which is given as authentic history by William of Malmesbury (De gestis regum Anglorum, lib. ii. § 188). She was calledCunigundafterher marriage, and perhaps was confused with St Cunigund, the wife of the emperor Henry II. In the Karlamagnus-saga the innocent wife is Oliva, sister of Charlemagne and wife of King Hugo, and in the French Carolingian cycle the emperor's wife Sibille (La Reine Sibille) or Blanchefleur (Macaire). Other forms of the legend are to be found in the story of Doolin's mother in Doon deMayence, the English romance of Sir Triamour, in the story of the mother of Octavian in Octavian the Emperor, in the German folk book Historie von der geduldigen Konigin Crescentia, based on a 12th-century poem to be found in the Kaiserchronik; and the English Erl of Toulouse (c. 1400). In the last-named romance it has been suggested that the story gives the relations between Bernard I. count of Toulouse, son of the Guillaume d'Orange of the Carolingian romances, and the empress Judith, second wife of Louis the Pious. See F. J. Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, vol. ii. (1886), art. " Sir Aldingar "; S. Grundtvig, Danske Kaempeviser (Copenhagen, 1867) ; " Sir Triamore," in Bishop Percy's Folio MS., ed. Hales and Furnivall, vol. ii. (London, 1868) ; The Romance of Octavian, ed. E. M. Goldsmid (Aungervyle Soc., Edinburgh, 1882) ; The Erl of Toulous and the Emperes of Almayn, ed. G. Liidtke (Berlin, 1881) ; B. Seuffert, Die Legende von der Pfalzgrafin Genovefa (Wurzburg, 1877) ; B. Golz, Pfalzgrafin Genovefa in der deutschen Dichtung (Leipzig, 1897) ; R. Kohler, " Die deutschen Volksbiicher von der Pfalzgrafin Genovefa," in Zeitschr. fur deutsche Philologie (1874)•
End of Article: GENEVIEVE, or GENOVEFA, ST (c. 422-512)
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