Limbourg Brothers
St. Genevieve

Late 14th or early 15th century
Manuscript illustration
Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is a typical portrait of St. Genevieve, holding a candle that a devil is trying to blow out and an angel is relighting. In her legend she was going to church with some other nuns in the dark night when a gust of wind blew out their candle. She took the candle, and it relighted itself. Although she was a nun at the time, the images usually dress her as a young noblewoman (Duchet-Suchaux, 157).

The inscription above the illustration is De sancta genovefa.ā., "Of Saint Genevieve." (I am not sure what the .ā. means.) The words below are Ista est virgo sapiens quam dominus invenit vigilantem que accensa lampa…, "This is the wise virgin whom the Lord found keeping watch, who [kept her?] lamp lighted."

St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris. She is in the Roman Martyrology for January 3: "In Paris, St. Genevieve, Virgin, who was dedicated to Christ by Blessed Germanus, Archbishop of Auxerre, and shone forth by her admirable virtues and miracles." A Latin vita is in MHG: Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, III, 204-238. Also see Gregory of Tours, De Gloria Confessorum / Glory of the Confessors, chapter 89 (Chapter 91 in Migne, col. 896; 90 in van Dam, pp. 68-69).

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Photographed at the museum by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.