St Germaine of Pibrac

(in southern France) Virgin (entered heaven 1601)

Dear Peggy,

I don’t think you need to torture yourself so much.  You had two excellent options for the summer: a plush internship downtown, or a rigorous camp head-counselorship in the boondocks.  You chose the latter, for the right reasons, and you just need to stick with that, no matter what your dad says, no matter what anyone says.  Don’t fret; you didn’t choose out of selfish motives or on a whim, so God will bless you.  Consider this an opportunity to grow in intimacy with him, to learn to stabilize your volatile emotions (linked to your tendency to vanity, I think) by grounding them not in the changing opinion of other people, but in the steady, loving wisdom of God.  That’s what today’s saint did, and it served her well.

Germaine was the daughter of poor parents who lived in southern France.  She had poor health as a child, which led to a deformity in her hand.  She also lost her mother when she was only an infant.  Her father remarried, but the stepmother didn’t like her too much.  And when brothers and sisters started arriving, Germaine was relegated to little more than servant status.

She was kind of exiled without being exiled.  She had to sleep in the barn, or in a cupboard under the stairs, and when she was nine her parents hired her out as a shepherdess, difficult and rugged work for anyone, let alone a nine-year old girl with a crippled hand.

But she made a little Rosary for herself out of knotted string, and accompanied her work with prayer.  When she could, she would gather the little children of the town in the fields and teach them catechism.  She would never allow herself to miss Mass.  Even if she were already in the fields and the bell for Mass rang, she would leave her shepherd’s crook there in the ground and charge her guardian angel to take care of the flock while she went to be fed by the divine Shepherd… She never lost a sheep.

Thus she passed her childhood, persecuted by her stepmother, mocked by the neighbors, but basking in the unswerving love of God.

As she grew older, people began to change their opinion of her a bit, especially one time after she was accused of stealing bread, chased out of the house and forced to open her apron – though it was winter, when she opened up her apron, instead of finding stolen bread, her stepmother beheld a miraculous armful of fresh flowers.

Germaine died in her sleep at the young age of 22.  Forty years later her body was accidentally exhumed during a restoration of the Church – it was incorrupt.  It was reburied, and after another century it was exhumed (still incorrupt) by anti-Catholic revolutionaries, who tried to destroy it by reburying it with no coffin, covered with water and quick-lime.  But even that couldn’t destroy her mortal remains.

Germaine knew how to live under God’s gaze, caring less for the opinions of others than for the approval of her loving Lord.  I suggest you take advantage of your present situation to exercise the same virtue.  In the end, it’s the only road to emotional stability and interior peace.

Your loving uncle,


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