O Lord, I am not worthy of you. Come in my heart and soul and mind, guide my every thought, word, and deed.
St. Germaine de Pibrac
I have read about quite a few saints over the course of the last month, but none of them have stirred my heart quite so much as little St. Germaine de Pibrac: a poor, French peasant girl who was given something of a Cinderella story.
Allow me to give the brief legend of little Germaine’s life before I dive into what made her so special to me.
St. Germaine was born around 1579 in Tolouse, France. She was crippled from birth with a withered hand. Her mother died in childbirth, and when her father remarried, her stepmother abused her due to her handicap and inability to perform household duties.
Germaine was sent by her stepmother to live in the barn, where she prayed continually and received revelations from Christ and the angels. Villagers would come into the barn where she slept and would find her glowing and shining with the glory of the Lord.
She was also a young shepherdess, which reminded me strongly of Joan of Arc (who was also French). Every day she would leave her sheep to the protection of her guardian angel so that she could attend Mass. Once, when heavy rain flooded the river (and Germaine’s route to the church), the legend says that villagers watched on as God parted the waters for the girl to safely pass so she could attend Mass, which was her only earthly comfort.
Germaine minstered to the poor beggars and orphans of her village, teaching them the love of God and His salvation. After Mass, she would spend hours with them, simply loving them and giving them the light of Christ. Not only this, but she would gather up scraps of food from her home to give them from her stepmother’s kitchen.
Finding Germaine hiding something in her apron one day, her stepmother realized what the girl had been up to and began beating her in a frantic fit of rage. Germaine collapsed on the cold floor, unable to resist.
To her stepmother’s surprise, Germaine’s blouse opened, and out of it sprung bouquets of beautiful wildflowers. When the girl recovered, her stepmother begged her forgiveness and invited her to return into the home with her and her father.
While Germaine was delighted at her stepmother’s repentance, she said she preferred the holy solitude of the barn and the quiet prayers she would offer there.
She consecrated herself as a virgin before the Lord, and she died unmarried at the young age of twenty-one.
At the break of day, [her father], disturbed by the unusual bleating of the sheep, realized that Germaine had not taken them out as she had the past twenty years. Loudly he called her name and became anxious when she did not answer. He went into the barn and found her dead on her bed of straw, her rosary entwined in her fingers and her face shining like an angel.
Her dear poor friends among the village, however, watched as the vision of a virgin ascending into heaven and accompanied by angels blazed before their eyes.
Isn’t that a beautiful story of a beautiful young woman?
There’s also a longer, more in-depth biography you can read here (which is where I got most of my info – and that excerpt. Alongside my Tresury of Women Saints book, of course).
I want to take a moment to really highlight the reigning theology of St. Germaine’s life: theodicy.
The study of theodicy is the study of the goodness of God in a broken, dreadful world. In the world we live in, how does the possibility of a good God even exist? Evil exists in abundance on earth, so how can a good God coexist with the reality of sin?
That’s basically what theodicy attempts to answer, and while I could go into an indepth discussion breaking down the philosophy of morals, absolutes, and free-will (which is something I would love to do for a doctoral thesis), I want to just focus on St. Germaine’s pure belief in the existence of a good God.
St. Germaine’s entire life was one of turmoil; she was given grounds upon which to let herself be driven deeper into sin, but she chose not to let her tribulations make her someone lesser than she was. Contrarily to the natural response we would expect from a young woman thrown into poverty, St. Germaine clung to Christ instead of concocting a superficial balm for herself of escapist sinfulness.
As the girl continued to pour continuous amounts of Jesus into her soul, she likewise began letting Jesus naturally ooze out of her soul and cover the lives of those suffering around her. Her decisions to pray in that musty old barn nurtured her hurting heart and gave her the courage to smuggle scraps of food to the local village children. The hours she must have spent crying with her face against scratchy, prickly hay and calling out to God not only drew her closer to him, but it enabled her to become a miracle for others to watch, including her wicked stepmother™️. She became a beacon of beauty, light, and joy for the suffering people of her village to delight in and find peace in.
St. Germaine made the conscious decision to believe (quite possibly against the current states of her emotions) that a benevolent Creator was watching over her. An abusive stepmother, a negligent father, and a barn full of animals couldn’t keep her from surrendering herself wholly and completely to the love of God.
Here’s another excerpt from that link I mentioned above:
She was truly a “victim of circumstance.” But circumstances have two sides, just as some people smell flowers and think of a funeral, others smell flowers and think of a spring garden. Throughout life God strews our paths with sufficient graces for our eternal salvation. It is up to each individual, however, to stoop down and pick them up.
Something quite lovely that I’ve been wholeheartedly attempting to exercise during this hiatus from school has been to consciously and earnestly meditate on the goodness in my life.
To stop and ponder on the beauty in my head, in my books, and in my music.
To smell the flowers, read the Psalms, think through those mind-boggling, fascinating ideas.
To relish the delicious taste of a favorite food, or to explore an unknown part of the world and revel in all it’s loveliness.
To read (or watch) a purely wonderful story, to cry during the happy and the sad (as per this gif), and to find the ways in which the story spins me around to the Creator who made us feel.
Because during the sad times, during the evil days, during the dark nights when the soul cannot sleep and the heart is plagued in a blanket of misery, I can still choose to remember those gorgeous moments. When the flood waters rise, Christ will part the sea so that I may still enter in to that cathedral of his love. In the days of bitter winter, I will have a heart filled to the brim (if not posibly overflowing) with a good thing…with many good things.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
The good treasure of our hearts.
Think about that for a moment.
I have the capability of pouring continual amounts of pure, lovely, amiable, righteous, beautiful things into my soul, and it is a treausure in my heart. In my heart I hold a treasure trove of goodness…or I can hold a treasure trove of evil. It is my decision.
But to fill my heart with goodness…with holiness and with glorious light…that will not only fill me with the theodicy of St. Germaine, but it will fill the hearts and minds of the countless people I love, the people I speak to, write for, play music for, and do business with every day. The good treasure of my heart will spontaneously fly out of me, contagiously spreading through the streets like a disease that everyone wants to catch.
If St. Germaine, the little girl from a small village in France, could live in a desolate, smelly, and lonely barn and choose to pray to and believe in the God she knew loved her, then that same Lord knows that I am equally capable of feeding my soul with the goodness it craves.
We can always find the goodness of God; if only we look hard enough, we can see that it is always there.
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
Maybe it’s a bit much to throw a Dumbledore quote at you, dear readers, but in all honesty, this is where our duty as Christians lies. We bear the light in a world falling deeper and deeper into darkness. If we cannot consume the goodness ourselves, there will be no one left to remind the world what goodness really looks like.
All we have to do is remember to turn on the light and let goodness flood the empty, black spaces of the world.
Now one question remains: can you blame me for falling in love with this little saint who taught me such a glorious lesson?
No. I don’t think you can. 😉
It seems our first session of #saintspam has come to an end, but if I judge rightly, might I add that it has also been a success?
My mind is finally at ease now that this has been written. It’s been burning up my heart for a week, and now I am filled with joy for finally being able to sit down and write this.
Thank you, Jesus.
Now, dear friends, I must leave you.
I’m off to toil away over some German prepositions and nasty little grammatic cases whilst listening to eternal reruns of 2cellos, The Piano Guys, and Ludovico Einaudi. But the German words are the best part. Because languages make my soul dance. It’s like seeing the whole world through a new set of glasses! Ugh, now I have to write a post about that, too. 😆
Bis später meine Lieben,
P.S. This entire post has “My Favorite Things” jumping about in my little head all of a sudden. I do believe it fits nicely with the context, so here ’tis…for your viewing pleasure. Julie Andrews is still my fairy godmother, in case you wondered.