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Religious Observances in January: St. Genevieve/ Epiphany

Known as the patron of Paris, St. Genevieve was born around 422 in a city close to Paris. In this article, you will learn about St. Genevieve Feast Day and the Christian observance called Epiphany.

St. Genevieve Feast Day , January 3

When Genevieve was seven years old, St. Germain of Auxerre paid a visit to her native village while on his way to Great Britain to address the heresy of Pelagius. As the young girl stood amongst the people in the crowd, St. Germain singled her out and made a foretelling of her future holiness. She agreed to let the holy Bishop lead her to a church and consecrate her to God as a virgin. All of the faithful followed them to the church.  

When news spread that Attila the Hun was marching towards Paris, the inhabitants of the city made preparations to flee, but St. Genevieve urged them to stay and avoid the consequences they feared with prayer and fasting. She assured the people that Heaven would protect them. The prediction came true because Attila shifted his eyes on another course for his march.

St. Genevieve led a life of constant prayer and acts of charity. In depictions of the saint, she is shown wearing a long, flowing gown with a mantle over her shoulders , much similar to the kinds of clothing you’d see the Blessed Mother wearing. One of the symbols used to represent St. Genevieve is a loaf of bread because of her great generosity to those in need. She died in 512.

Epiphany , January 6

Epiphany is one of the three major celebrations in the western Christian faith. Most Christians celebrate the observance on January 6 as a way to pay homage to the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi, (also known as the three wise men). However, Roman Catholics will celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8. The name of the observance translates into “the appearance of an invisible divine being in a visible form.”

The Eastern Church started the celebration of the Epiphany, which included the commemoration of Christ’s birth. However, things changed during the 4th century CE when the calendar underwent reform and the birth of Christ was moved to December 25. The church in Rome started celebrating January 6 as Epiphany. All did not readily embrace the change. For example, there are Armenians that still celebrate the birth of Christ on January 6. Epiphany Eve (January 5) is another observance of the Christian faith.