David Holford

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

If you are looking for a model prayer warrior, then today is your day. Genevieve of Paris took on Attila the Hun and St Gennie won. That is why she is considered the patron saint of Paris.

Attila was called the Scourge of God, as if God had sent him as the punishment on those people groups deserving of divine judgment. That may or may not have been the case, but Genevieve was convinced that by fasting and prayer, the course of the Huns could be be diverted. She was right.

As the Huns marched on Paris in 451, she convinced the inhabitants, who were preparing to flee en masse, to stay and pray. Paris was saved from the sack of the Huns. That’s a pretty good testimony to the power of prayer and fasting.

The failure to sack Paris is a factor that led to something even more significant in the history of Western civilization. The path of the Hun invaders led them to Orléans. That’s where they were when the armies of Flavius Aetius and his allies showed up from Italy. As the Huns retreated from Orléans, they made their stand on the plains of Catalaunia. It was there on 20 June 451 that the Huns and their pagan allies were defeated and forced to retreat from Western Europe. Most historian agree that this was one of the most important battles in Western history. It may have saved the Christian West.

Attlia would make one more attempt, this time in Italy in 452, but he was unable to reach his target of Roman and returned to his home on the Danube and died the next year. The Scourge of God was dead, but Genevieve live until at least 502 and maybe it was 512.

Her engagement as a key player in political and military dramas of the 5th century did not end with Attila. When Childeric, a Frankish king, conquered Paris in 464, she made sure that things transpired as peacefully as possible. She also motivated Childeric’s 15-year-old successor Clovis toward mercy.  And she was almost certainly close to Clovis’ wife, who became St Clotilde. It is thanks to Clotilde that the life of Genevieve was written so soon after her death, giving us a reliable record. Clovis and Clotilde were interred in the abbey built for Genevieve and where she, too, was laid to rest.

Genevieve had visions and prophesied. You know, those things charismatics think they invented. The Holy Spirit was alive and well in the 5th century. More importantly – and as real evidence of the Spirit-filled life – she was renowned as a holy woman. She lived out her faith by her works. Her life as a prayer warrior, totally committed to holy living, has made her an example throughout the ages.

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