Gendarmerie: Who is the boss?

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If you find yourself near a gendarmerie on November 26, you may be lucky enough to see the homage paid to Sainte Geneviève.

But who is she?

Born in Nanterre around 420 AD and died in Paris around 510 AD (sources differ), Geneviève is the daughter of wealthy and Christian farmers. Blessed by Saint Germain d’Auxerre when she was just 7 years old, she chose to dedicate herself to God and received the veil of virgins at the age of 15. She joined the Ile de la Cité in 440 following the death of her parents whose inheritance she dedicated to helping the needy.

Geneviève was only 28 years old during the siege of Lutetia in 451. Yet it is she who urges the frightened inhabitants who rushed to the port to flee, to resist the Huns who have just crossed the Rhine and to protect their city. . During this historic episode, she pronounced these now famous words: “May men flee, if they want, if they are no longer able to fight.” We women will pray to God as long as He hears our pleas. “. The city is saved from Attila, the “Scourge of God”, unlike Cologne which is destroyed and Metz, Verdun, Laon, St-Quentin and Reims which are devastated by flames. In 470, she once again saved the capital, besieged by Clovis, from famine thanks to her relentlessness, her persuasion and her diplomacy. The famous king finally folds. She has since been considered the protector of the Frankish kingdom.

He is credited with many other miracles. This is why, by decree of May 18, 1962, Geneviève was appointed by Pope John XXIII, at the request of the Bishop of the Armies and of Father Wagner, National Chaplain, patroness of the Gendarmerie, very recent ambassador of the Holy See to Paris. Courageous and strong, she knew how to restore peace and, therefore, is a model for all gendarmes within the framework of their function. She is responsible for protecting them and praying for them. She is also the patron saint of the city of Paris and of the diocese of Nanterre.

She was buried in Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, near the Panthéon and in 1945, Anna Quinquaud built a statue for her, today kept at the General Directorate of the National Gendarmerie, located in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Parish of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

When do we celebrate Saint Geneviève?

In the Christian calendar, Saint Geneviève appears on January 3, the date of her death and therefore of her birth in heaven.

However, the gendarmes pay homage to her on November 26 as Sainte Geneviève des Ardents. This date was instituted by Pope Innocent II for the diocese of Paris. It honors the miracles of healing from intoxication by rye which prevailed in 1130, called the “Miracle of the Burning”. The reliquary containing Geneviève’s remains (the reliquary) was then transported to the square of Notre-Dame. 103 patients were presented to him and only 3 skeptics did not recover. The history of the Gendarmerie units being closely linked to that of the capital, this choice seemed appropriate.

It is celebrated indifferently in all countries where gendarmes are stationed as well as within Gendarmerie schools, companies, squadrons, the Republican Guard, groups, legions of the regions and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie. Everyone has a duty to cultivate the faith, courage, humility and availability to others of this woman who was able to restore order and peace at key moments in the history of Paris.

The homage paid

Most often, the celebration consists of a mass, a ceremony of colors followed by a reception or friendship bribe and sometimes even a meal. Families, friends and retired police are invited. The staff of the Republican Guard with the authorization of the priest of Saint Etienne du Mont, celebrates mass in the presence of the reliquary in the Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis. The prayer of the Christian policeman is addressed to Sainte Geneviève during the religious service.

The purpose of this celebration is to bring together and strengthen ties within the community of gendarmes. It is an opportunity to bring together the civil and military authorities, all ranks, in simplicity and friendship and “salute the commitment of those who, in the uniform of the National Gendarmerie, work daily for the protection and defense of citizens “.

Ceremony of the Sainte-Geneviève

There is no doubt that the prayers of Saint Geneviève will continue to accompany our courageous peacekeepers for a long time to come.