Count of Sainte Animie
The title of Count of Sainte Animie is the personal title proper to the Patriarch of Saint Stephen. With its origins in the ancient Merovingian Dynasty, the title refers to the French municipality of Sainte Animie within the County of Gévaudan. It is named for Sainte Animie, the daughter of Chlothar II, Merovingian King of the Franks. The Patriarchal household descends from the Counts of Gévaudan and Toulouse. Modernly both the municipality and the Saint are written as Sainte-Enimie, but the title retains the older spelling of Sainte Animie.
Sainte Animie (Enimie) preferred not to marry and felt a calling instead to care for lepers. Seeking the assistance of God to help her avoid marriage, she became infected with leprosy. Her father the King naturally wished for her to be cured, and so she was taken to the waters of Gévaudan and then to Bagnols-les-Bains. Both attempts were unsuccessful. However, the waters of the Tarn River resulted in a miraculous dliverance from her afflication. Now cured, she was expected to marry. Upon her return home, however, she was again infected with leprosy. She returned to the Tarn River and was once again cured. Then, once again upon her return home she contracted leprosy and, upon yet another visit to the Tarn was cured. At that point it became clear that she was intended to remain in that area. After briefly living in a cave, she became a nun and founded a convent. After her death, her brother, King Dagobert I came to seek relics buried with her to take for the Basilica of Saint-Denis (where he himself, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and all but a few of the reigning Kings of France are buried). The nuns, however, tricked him, and Dagobert found the relics of Enimie's niece instead.
After the death of Sainte Animie (Enimie), two monasteries were built in the area. They were destroyed by invasions. Then Stephen, Bishop of Mende caused a Benedictine monastery to be built. Completed in 951, it was a popular destination for pilgrimages due to the miracles of Sainte Animie.
Present Bearer: H.I.R.H. Count Don Rutherford Johnson of Sainte Animie
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