John Anthony and Clare Monica preserved intact the noble traditions of their patriarchal families. They had twelve children, of whom Paul was the seventh. He was born on the last day of Mary's month, during the Octave of the Ascension, May 31, 1824, and on the same day he was baptized by the names of Peter Paul Hippolyte. His parents gave five of their children to God. One of these, a young curate in the Diocese of Mende, was struck down in the flower of his age; two daughters died almost immediately after profession in the Trappistine Convent of Maubec; another of Paul's sisters entered the Order of the Visitation; only one child, Victor, remained in the world, where he carefully cherished the precious inheritance of faith and virtue left to him by his ancestors. The father of eight children, he had the happiness of seeing three of his daughters consecrate themselves to God in the Order of St. Ursula, and one of his sons ascend the altar steps. Paul's father, John Anthony, was a simple, honest man, and a good Catholic. His home is thus described by an old servant:
"I worked at Le Mazel for fifteen years, so that I saw and heard all that went on. There were no quarrels or disputes among the children, and the father, who was very kind to us all, worked hard. Every evening he taught us the Catechism, and twice every day we were called for prayers. Before supper, we usually said the rosary, and after supper we had prayers, which were recited by one of the family. Then a book was read, and none of us dared to leave till all was finished. Such has always been the custom in that house."
A Visitation Nun of Marvejols writes that, when she was quite young, she used to hide in a corner of the church in order to see M. Ginhac pray. His respectful attitude struck her with admiration. Clare Monica gave good example in everything, and watched carefully over her children and servants. The old people say that she was very liberal towards the poor, and that she loved to welcome them to her house. Nearly every night one of them would sleep in her barn, after having received a substantial supper. She privately gave them food, which she often secretly took with her to Serverette for them, so as to avoid notice. Another old servant says: "I went to Le Mazel as shepherd in 1814. Monica, then quite young, showed her mother-in-law the greatest respect. Never did I see her in anger, and this meekness was not indolence, because naturally she was very active. Once one of her servants got married, and Monica would not take another in her place, but did all the work herself." "She always feared to irritate us. She did not command, but begged! When others scolded us, she took our part immediately. In her later years Monica was still the model woman of Serverette, and it is through her that God's blessing has descended on that house." Canon Michel says: "She passed for a saint in the eyes of the public. She went every Sunday to Holy Communion, and, though not robust, she never hesitated to go in all weathers, fasting and on foot, to the church. Often it was only at High Mass that she could communicate." The Superior of the Visitation of Marvejols adds: " Monica lived in constant union with God, and so had heroic strength to endure the many crosses sent to her by Providence."
Formed to a Christian life by the example and lessons of such a mother, Paul's childhood was passed in study or performing the little tasks which in the country are usually confided to children. Like St. Vincent de Paul and Blessed Peter Faber, he will boast of this in his later life. During the long retreat at Liesse we shall hear him say:
"'I go fishing,' said St. Peter to the other Apostles who were with him. He did not disdain his first calling, and neither will I hide my origin. In my youth I tended my father's cattle, but God gave me good and Christian parents, for which I daily thank and bless His Divine Providence."
At Le Mazel all the children did as they were commanded. They never uttered a word against father, or mother, or uncle, neither were they to be seen at the inn on Sundays. If, after Mass or Vespers, they chatted to their friends, it was only for a short time, and then went quickly back to Le Mazel, led by their mother, who would not allow any of them to remain behind. When Paul was nine years old, he was considered sufficiently instructed and pious enough to be allowed to make his First Communion. The Divine King of souls was eager to establish His reign in this young soul, which the devil was soon to assault so violently.Link (here) to read A Man After God's Own Heart: Life of Father Paul Ginhac, S. J. written by Fr. Arthur Calvet, S.J.