Sainte-Geneviève Library (French: Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève) inherited the writings and collections of one of the largest and oldest abbeys in Paris. Founded in the sixth century by Clovis I and subject to the rule of St Benedict, it was initially dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul. In 512 the body of St Genevieve, later the patron saint of Paris was buried there and in time became the new dedication. The monastery was repeatedly plundered by the Normans in the ninth and tenth centuries, yet increased activity is visible in the early eleventh century. Subsequent decadence led to a reform in 1148 promoted by the abbot of Saint-Denis, Suger, then regent of France. The Canons Regular of St Augustine were installed at the abbey until the Revolution, maintaining the library and a school of copyists. The oldest known manuscript from the library of the abbey, now preserved at the Public Library of Soissons (ms 80) is an ex-libris of the twelfth century: Iste liber is Sancte Genovefa parisiensis. As was the custom in ecclesiastical libraries, this mark of ownership is accompanied by a threatened penalty for anyone daring to steal the book or simply mask the ex-libris: Quicumque furatus eum fuerit, vel celaverit, vel ab ecclesia subduxerit, vel titulum istum deleverit, anathema sit (Whoever steals this, or uses the offices of the church to withdraw it, or removes or otherwise conceals its title, he is anathema).
A copy of the library catalogue, executed in the thirteenth century (Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 16,203, fol. 71V) reports of 226 volumes, of which only 3 or 4 can now be identified with certainty in the collections of Library Sainte-Genevieve. Besides the manuscripts inventoried - collections of sermons, canon law, the works of the fathers of the church, the glosses and commentaries on the Scriptures of Rabanus Maurus and the Venerable Bede--the abbey had certainly other books, bibles, missals or gradual, earmarked specifically for worship. But during the sixteenth century, weakening of community and misrule were due to dispersion of the volumes of the library. Many manuscripts, the library of the abbey tried to recover the next century, were then sold, sometimes at the price of paper. Reform resulted in the true foundation of the Royal Library Sainte-Genevieve.
The names of 810 illustrious scholars are inscribed on the library facade.