Monday, April 20, 2009
St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, stands watch over the city here from her perch above the Pont de la Tournelle. Legend has it that she was a lowly peasant woman. Truth is she was from a wealthy family in what is now the suburb of Nanterre. In any case, she is best loved for bringing grain to starving Parisians when the city was blockaded by the Huns in the 5th century. What is now known as the Pantheon was originally built as a church in her name by Louis XV. The revolution broke out before the church could be dedicated and her relics were publicly burnt in 1793 in one of many actions taken by revolutionaries against the Catholic Church. Although separation of church and state are now absolute in France, saint's days are widely observed. St. Genevieve's day is January 3rd.