St. Germaine Cousin

St. Germaine Cousin was born into one of the hardest lives imaginable: disabled, sick, and abused. Yet despite all the challenges she faced, she found joy in loving God and made worshipping Him a part of her daily life. She's an excellent model of how we can find hope no matter how bad things in life can become.

Lifetime: 1579 to 1609
Region: France
Patronages: Child abuse victims; Disability; Physical therapists; Illness
Iconograpy: Lamb; Walking stick; Young girl in peasant clothing
Feast Day: June 15

Germaine Cousin was born to a poor family. Her father was a farmer, and her mother died when she was still a baby. Germaine was also born with disabilities and a dangerous lung infection. And while Germaine’s life started out hard, it wouldn’t be that easy for long, either.

Germaine’s father remarried when Germaine was still very young, and her new stepmother was very cruel. Disgusted by Germaine’s disability and illness, she made fun of her stepdaughter and instructed her other stepchildren to join in. She neglected the young girl, and eventually forced her out of the house. Germaine was forced to sleep in the barn even though she was still so young and weak from her sickness.

Germaine didn’t let this unfair treatment crush her spirit, though. She took care of the family’s sheep, and went into the village to teach other children about God. She even shared what little food she received to the other poor children in town. Every day, Germaine went to Mass and prayed the Rosary. Her dedication to attending Mass was so great that when it was flooded the waters would part to allow her to continue her devotion.

At first, adults mocked Germaine’s simple piety, but all the children who knew her were amazed that she could be so holy despite being so mistreated. But eventually, even the adults couldn’t ignore the wonders that were happening around the poor, disabled shepherd they had so readily dismissed. They started to pay attention to her and her love of God, which made her stepmother start to feel guilty for how she had been treated. Germaine was invited back into the house, but she refused, preferring to remain in the humble condition that had forged her faith.

Germaine died when she was only 22, just after the people of the village had started to realize that they had been wrong about her. Germaine wasn’t thought about much for almost 40 years, until her grave was re-opened to bury another relative. Her body was found exactly as it had been buried a lifetime earlier, and the people took it as a sign from God that Germaine was a saint. They reflected again on her life and began to venerate her.

Despite miracles beginning to be attributed to Germaine almost immediately after finding her body uncorrupted, ultimately tallying over 400 claims being submitted for her cause, she was not canonized for another 200 years due to various accidents and political turmoil.

Germaine’s example reminds us that no matter how hard our life here on earth can be, we can always take joy in God, knowing that one day we will unite with Him forever.

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