St. Germaine Cousin was born in Pibrac, France, in 1579. Her parents were poor farmers, and her mother died when Germaine was an infant. Germaine was born with a deformed right hand and arm, and suffered from scrofula, a tubercular condition.
Germaine’s father remarried shortly after her mother died, and his new wife was disgusted by Germaine’s condition. Her stepmother treated Germaine terribly, and instructed her siblings to do so as well.
Germaine was eventually kicked out of her home, and forced to sleep in the barn, where she tended her family’s sheep.
Despite her great sufferings, Germaine was always joyful and thankful. She spent many hours praying the rosary and teaching the village children about God. Although she rarely had enough to eat, she always shared her bread with the poor.
Germaine had a deep holiness and trust in God. She went to Mass every day, leaving her sheep in the care of her guardian angel. Although her deep piety was mocked by many of the villagers, the children were drawn to her holiness.
It was said that on days when the river was high, the waters would part so Germaine could get to Mass. One winter day, her stepmother was chasing her, having accused her of stealing bread. Germaine opened her apron to reveal fresh summer flowers, which she offered to her stepmother as a sign of forgiveness.
Eventually, the villagers came to recognize the great holiness of the crippled shepherdess. Germaine’s parents offered her a place in their house, but she chose to remain in the barn. When she was 22, her father found her body on her bed of leaves there one morning.
Forty-three years later, Germaine’s body was found to be incorrupt in her casket. People in the village began praying for her intercession, and received miraculous cures for their illnesses.
Germaine was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867, and is inscribed into the canon of virgins.