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Germaine Cousin: A Saint for Our Time

Image: Statue of Saint Germaine Cousin by Alexandre Falguière – by Wikimedia Commons

Germaine Cousin was a 16th-century shepherdess who lived from 1579 to 1601. Born with a lame right hand and the disease scrofula (a non-tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes of the neck), she projected quite an unsightly appearance. The only child of Laurent Cousin and Marie Laroche, Germaine lived about 1.5 miles west of Pibrac, France. When she was just five years old, the plague suddenly took her dear mother, and her father soon after remarried. Germaine was physically and mentally abused by her new stepmother, Armande de Rajols.

Armande’s hatred of little Germaine was so intense that she forced her to live 17 years in the family barn and to watch the sheep near the wolf-infested La Bouconne forest, hoping the wolves would kill her. Isolated, cold, and lonely, Germaine embraced a life of prayer, penance, and almsgiving; she assisted the poor and hungry, even though she herself was malnourished. She offered up her suffering to God.

It was while these abuses were taking place that miraculous wonders began to surround Germaine. People from the village witnessed her, on several occasions, parting the turbulent spring waters of the Courbet, which she had to cross to get to Mass in the morning.

On another occasion, Germaine had filled her apron with surplus bread from her meager daily rations so that she may feed the poor. Her stepmother pursued her into town, hoping to expose her to the townspeople as a miscreant and a thief who was stealing from her household pantry. After catching up with her in the public square, she forced her to reveal the contents of her apron. When Germaine opened her apron, it wasn’t bread that came flowing out, but summer flowers. It was the middle of winter. Everyone was amazed and began to see Germaine in a different light. The stepmother, however, was unmoved, and continued to persecute the young girl until her death. This wasn’t for much longer, as Germaine soon died alone in the barn where she had been forced to live for 17 years.

Mysterious lights enveloped the barn the night she died. Two monks who were traveling from Gascony noticed the light from far off. Approaching cautiously, they witnessed angels descending upon the barn in large numbers and taking a soul robed in a virgin’s gown up to heaven. It was only at Germaine’s deathbed that the stepmother finally began to weep bitterly for her mistreatment of the girl; she eventually repented.

The story of Germaine’s life was soon forgotten.

In 1644, some 43 years following her death, the body of a noblewoman was being interred in front of the sanctuary of the church when a workman accidently exhumed Germaine’s incorrupt body from under the flagstone floor. Her body looked and smelled as fresh as the day she had passed away. News spread like wildfire throughout the town. Her body was exposed in the church in the hopes of eliciting religious fervor.

Madame de Beauregard, a prominent lady, put a stop to this. She complained to the parish priest about the disgusting exhibit of a corpse near her pew. She threatened to withhold alms if Germaine’s corpse continued to be exposed. The priest complied with her request and removed the casket.

Not long after, Madame de Beauregard was stricken with a fatal disease. Distressed by his wife’s condition and her irreverence toward a possible saint, her husband pleaded for her life before the tabernacle of the church, requesting that Germaine intercede. Moments later, Germaine appeared in spirit to Madame de Beauregard and healed her instantly of her ailment.

Despite these apparent signs of sanctity and several attempts at initiating the cause of her canonization, Germaine wasn’t beatified until May 7, 1854 – 210 years after her incorrupt body had been found. Her canonization finally took place on June 29, 1867.

Saint Germaine was forgotten, neglected, and unloved for most of her life. Even after her death, it seemed that the Lord purposely kept her well hidden. Most Catholics have never heard of her, and that includes religious and priests. In our complex and fast-paced world, Germaine’s simplicity, charity, and piety don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

The reason is that we have now brought up entire generations of entitled young people who see themselves as central to the universe’s purpose. They are the first to complain if things don’t go their way. In recent news, is it not surprising to learn about a woman stabbing her fiancé over their wedding color scheme? We are witnessing the consequences of a narcissistic culture that seeks pleasure without any kind of moral compass to guide the conscience.

How could Germaine’s life story fit into such a culture? It would seem, that we are not quite ready yet.

We and our children were brought up on the idea that our “self-esteem” needed to be enhanced. In this way, we’ve made an entire generation incapable of seeing its own darkness, empowered with the perception of its own strength and unique gifts. At the same time, this generation’s children, disconnected from any moral compass, think they can do no harm. Meanwhile, a mother in her thirties was sucker-punched while walking with her daughter. No apparent reason was reported, but the public was outraged that such random acts of violence could take place. It was part of the “knockout game,” a depraved form of entertainment for young people.

It is imperative that we begin, once again, to talk to our children about living virtuous lives of self-effacement and not self-empowerment – lives of temperance and not overindulgence. It is pressing that we share with our children the idea of living a simpler life that is rooted in love, penance, alms giving, and prayer.

Our children need to hear that the Lord Jesus is drawn to those who are small, hidden, and pure, not just to those who are smart, rich, attractive, and self-empowered.

In the book Germaine: Requiem of a Soul, Andrew St-James recounts the full history of Saint Germaine. She was a pure soul who abandoned herself completely to divine providence, who learned to surrender her will completely to God.

This inspirational story shatters all the conventional theories modern man may have about God and about the modern concepts of self-empowerment. For when Jesus approaches, He does not strengthen and empower the individual, as most Protestant evangelists claim. Instead, as Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes, “when the Lord approaches, he weakens.”

God is not distant from the suffering of man. The story of Germaine Cousin attests to that truth. The events that surround the life of Saint Germaine have been clearly documented and can be regarded as a reliable historical record of her most remarkable life. It’s a story that has been lost, but it is time now for it be told to our children and loved ones.

40 thoughts on “Germaine Cousin: A Saint for Our Time”

  1. This is a beautiful story, thank you for posting! Saint Germaine, what a great example in this particular years of excessive welfare and self-seeking minds. Pray for us!

  2. Excellent. Humility, Purity and Charity are the waters of holiness which issue forth from our Beloved Lord’s pierced heart. He has so many treasures to bestow and so few with open hearts to receive. If we were more concerned with pleasing the Lord than getting our way in this Life we would soon find Our Lord delighting in pleasing us with His Love.

    These times we live in tend to bring us to invective (I am guilty as charged) and to be sure there is a season for everything including fierce invective, however if we are not tempered in Humility, Purity and Charity then our invective is nothing more than an overflow of personal rancor and it does contribute to the restoration of Justice.

    St. Germaine Cousin, please pray for us poor selfish sinners, beseech Our Blessed Lord and Lady to open our eyes to the fullness of Truth so that we willingly and gratefully carry the Holy Cross for the salvation of Souls, especially those who have injured us the most. Amen.

    • Thank you Father RP.

      Please stay with us here at OnePeterFive. I know you must be very busy, as a parish priest,
      but your words are such holy guidance for one like me.

      • I will not leave you of my own design. and if i do leave it will be in either death or direct obedience, and then It was not of my own design But His Who Has Given Me Life. Then Pray For Me, For I Shall Certainly Need It. Amen.

    • I like this what you have said Fr. RP: ” is a season for everything including fierce invective, however if we are not tempered in Humility, Purity and Charity then our invective is nothing more than an overflow of personal rancor and it does contribute to the restoration of Justice.” Holy indignation and anger is miles away from personal anger or grudges. Well said. Thank you for saying it now, in times of the political correctness which blunts everything…

  3. “For when Jesus approaches, He does not strengthen and empower the individual, as most Protestant evangelists claim. Instead, as Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes, “when the Lord approaches, he weakens.”

    Bless you for this article. I could use a dose of this.

  4. It is a great historical story. I must admit that I have never heard of this saint girl. Saint Germaine, pray for us from above and guide us with your Light in this valley of darkness.

  5. Thank you for posting this story of St Germaine. Reminds me of the Little Flower, that every moment is opportunity for holiness.

    Having recently read “Nothing short of a Miracle: God’s healing power in modern Saints”, and considering this post, I/we could all do better to know more of the lives of the Saints. For instance, from the book I learned of St Andre Bessette of Montreal, whom I had never heard of. He was a “one man Lourdes”, and over 1 million people attended his funeral …. and he died in 1937; within the living memory for some. We would benefit greatly by knowing more of these great men and women.

    If anyone has a good book/books to recommend on lives of the Saints, I would appreciate hearing them.

    • Tom,

      I’d recommend ‘Saint-Watching’ by Phyllis McGinley (who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1961) and ‘These Are My Heroes’ by Robert Leckie (former US marine who was both a scout and a machine-gunner in WWII).

      Rather than examine any saint’s life in great detail, both books draw pen pictures/cite inspiring examples from their lives which are then woven into a narrative that is informative, devotional and in places, even humorous.

      I was just now leafing through ‘These Are My Heroes’ and found this on P.40: “A modern rationalist would explain the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as “possibly” due to the “probability” that those of the multitude who had brought food with them had shared it with those who had not. If this did happen, it would seem that the miracle of generosity worked upon the human heart was greater than the one of multiplication of the food. However, the reporters who were there do not mention it.”
      If you remember, this is strikingly similar to PF’s own explanation given during an Angelus address last year. Robert Leckie’s book was published in 1964.

      • You should probably refrain from limiting God’s power. He parted the red sea for Moses….He orchestrated the Fatima miracle…God is powerful…believe it

        • David,

          It’s a while now since I poured all my Kool-Aid down the sink, cancelled my subscription to L’Osservatore Romano and stopped following Fr. Antonio Spadaro on Twitter. I’m with you (and Robert Leckie) on this one!

    • Have you heard of Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey? He reminds me a lot of St. Andre Bessette (at whose grave I have prayed).

      • Saint Andre Bessett is from my home town of Montreal. I used to go the oratory regularly and pray among the thousands of candles lit before the Saint Joseph statue. What an incredible place. The lord does seem to choose poor, weak and unnoticeable souls to do his bidding. Such was the case of Saint Germaine Cousin…incredible

        • Such a beautiful city! I am certain that my own dear father’s conversion is directly the result of Dad’s prayers at Br. Andre’s tomb many years ago. (May they both RIP.) I hope to return there in the next few years.

    • You may find Andrew St-James’ historical novel about Saint Germaine’s life quite interesting. He did the research in concert with Jean-Pierre Jouffreau, the archivist in Toulouse France, who is in charge of Saint Germaine’s historical records. The novel shook me to the core; there are no other words to describe the experience. Here is the link the author’s website:

        • Hi Cam, I am the author of Germaine: Requiem of a Soul/The True Story of Cinderella. Germaine had three step-sisters. Their ages relative to Germaine are not know, but it has been surmised that they were slightly older: Loyse, Anne and Francoise who were about 11, 9 and 7 respectively, at the time their mother married Laurent Cousin. Germaine would have been around 5 years of age. Hope that helps. However, I do want to point out that historical records can only confirm their names

    • Hi James, I can refer you to Andrew St-James’ website. He wrote an historical novel about Saint Germaine that was done in concert with the archivist in Toulouse France, who is responsible for her historical records. It is a fascinating book that tells a story that shocks the soul to the core and shakes its very foundation. There are sections that are so touching that I could not resist shedding some tears. I became more attentive to my daily rosary after reading it. Here is the link:

  6. If they don’t murder Charlie Gard perhaps he will become a saint as well.
    Of course what is being done to him is the result of socialized medicine…and America is hell bent on having it here too, under the guise of health care …Hilary’s idea.

    • I notice that AMERICA–and the whole Catholic Left–has already geared up and is shouting “socialized medicine has nothing to do with it!

      Baloney! Without socialized medicine, the Gards would be free to take Charlie anywhere they chose.

      That wicked “convocation” in Orlando was all about the Catholic Left’s obfuscating that they are pro-abortion socialists. It was horrible to see so many otherwise Catholic people duped.

  7. Where was her father? Dead? Deaf and blind? In 17 years, he never noticed his daughter was living in the barn?

    • He was a weak man who was convinced by his new wife that his child was a danger to her three children. Because Germaine was physically repulsive and born with a defective hand and arm the father did not like Germaine from the very beginning as he could see that she would be of no help on the farm.

      • What must have been the depths of her loneliness and sadness in that barn by herself for all those years? It is overwhelming for me to think of this.

        • Her complete abandonment to God’s providence; her complete trust in him, afforded her angelic visions that came in the night to console. The consolations were so incredible that she refused to return to the house when invited back to by her father years later. Read the book: Germaine: Requiem of a Soul/The True Story of Cinderella….and you will understand how God does not abandon the weak….very inspirational. Go to: to purchase a copy….you will not regret it….God bless you…Andrew St-James

          • The closest thing it reminds me of is when Bl. Fr. Seelos when he visited an old woman, a freed slave in Maryland I believe. She lived in a attic and never came out, she was there by herself for years apparently. When he had climbed up into the attic to see her he exclaimed “sweet poverty”.

  8. I include a prayer to St. Germaine with my morning prayers. When I fully committed to Catholicism six years ago, because of my own past I did an online search for a saint who would be the patron of abused children. I was so thankful to find her. Thank you so much for this article.

  9. “No apparent reason…the knockout game…”
    Let me help the author with the missing information. The assailant was black and the victim was white. Everyone knows black thugs are attacking white people in acts of racially-motivated barbarity (see “White Girl Bleed A Lot”).
    The media are silent about the motive because they foment this anti-white (read Christian) animus among ghetto blacks.
    If you don’t identify the problem, you can’t fix the problem.
    And the problem is the media and who owns them.


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