birth_date=c. 650 [http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmag/bk_issue/2003/sepoct/feature3.html "The West Portal of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard,"] by R.J. Gangewere,
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, September/October 2003]
Roman Catholic Church
caption=Detail of "Saint Giles and the Hind," by the
Master of Saint Gilesc. 1500
Septimania( Languedoc, Southern France)
arrow; crosier; hermitage; hind
beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; Edinburgh (Scotland); epilepsy; fear of night; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; noctiphobics; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spurmakers; sterility;
St. Giles' Cathedral( Edinburgh, Scotland)
Saint Giles ( _el. Αιγίδιος, _la. Ægidius, _fr. Gilles, _it. Egidio, _es. Egidio, _ca. Gil; c. 650 - c. 710) was a Greek
Christian hermit saintfrom Athens, whose legend is centered in Provenceand Septimania. The tomb in the abbey Giles was said to have founded, in St-Gilles-du-Gard, became a place of pilgrimage and a stop on the road that led from Arlesto Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrim Way of St. James. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
As a hermit Giles first lived in retreats near the mouth of the Rhône and by the River Gard, in
Septimania, today's southern France. The story that he was the son of King Theodore and Queen Pelagia of Athens[Compare the incipitof his early (12th century) " vita" in the Cologne "Legendae Sanctorum," Dombibliothek Codex 167, fol. 97r-101v [http://www.ceec.uni-koeln.de/ceec-cgi/kleioc/0010/exec/katl/%22kn28-0167%22] .] is probably an embellishment of his early hagiographers; it was given wide currency in the " Legenda Aurea." The two main incidents in his life were often depicted in art.
The "Miracle of Saint Giles"
His early history, as given in "Legenda Aurea", links him with
Arles, but finally he withdrew deep into the forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a deer, or hind, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. [Compare the mythemeof the doe nurturing Heracles' son Telephos.] This last retreat was finally discovered by the king's hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. An arrow shot at the deer wounded the saint instead, who afterwards became a patron of cripples. The king, who by legend was Wamba, an anachronistic Visigoth, but who must have been (at least in the original story) a Frank due to the historical setting, [He is Charles in "Legenda Aurea".] conceived a high esteem for the hermit, whose humility rejected all honors save some disciples, and built him a monasteryin his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which he placed under the Benedictinerule. Here Giles died in the early part of the eighth century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles
The "Mass of Saint Giles"
An early source, a tenth-century "Vita sancti Aegidii" recounts that, as Giles was celebrating mass to pardon the emperor
Charlemagne's sins, an angel deposited upon the altar a letter outlining a sin so terrible Charlemagne had never dared confess it. Several Latin and French texts, including "Legenda Aurea" refer to this hidden "sin of Charlemagne".
A later text, the "Liber miraculorum sancti Aegidii" ("The Book of miracles of Saint Giles") served to reinforce the flow of pilgrims to the abbey.
Around his tomb in the abbey sprang up the town of St-Gilles-du-Gard. The abbey remained the center of his cult, which was particularly strong in
Languedoc, even after a rival body of Saint Giles appeared at Toulouse. [Pierre-Gilles Girault, 2002. "Observations sur le culte de saint Gilles dans le Midi", in "Hagiographie et culte des saints en France méridionale (XIIIe-XVe siècle)", "Cahiers de Fanjeaux" 37, pp. 431-454] His cult spread rapidly far and wide throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the countless churches and monasteries dedicated to him in France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Great Britain; by the numerous manuscripts in prose and verse commemorating his virtues and miracles; and especially by the vast concourse of pilgrims who from all Europe flocked to his shrine.
In 1562 the
relics of the saint were secretly transferred to Toulouseto save them from the anger of the Huguenots and the level of pilgrimages declined. With the restoration of a great part of the relics to the abbey of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard in 1862, and the publicized rediscovery of his former tomb there in 1865, the pilgrimages recommenced. Besides Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, nineteen other cities bear his name. Cities that possess relics of St. Giles include Saint-Gilles, Toulouseand a multitude of other French cities, Antwerp, Bruggeand Tournaiin Belgium, Cologneand Bambergin Germany, Romeand Bolognain Italy, Pragueand Esztergom. The lay Community of Sant'Egidiois named after his church in Rome, Sant'Egidio. Giles is also the patron saintof Edinburgh, Scotland, where St. Giles' Cathedralis a prominent landmark.
The centuries-long presence of
Crusaders, many of them of French origin, left the name of Saint Giles in some locations in the Middle East. Raymond of St Gilles lent his name to St. Gilles Castle(Arabic: "Qala’at Sanjil") in Tripoli, Lebanon. [ [http://www.mountlebanon.org/historyoflebanon.html "History of Lebanon"] , mountlebanon.org. See [http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/700/770/779/ludvigsen/pcd0414/html/img0068.html photo] by Børre Ludvigsen, 1995 at almashriq.hiof.no] Sinjilis also a West BankPalestinian village, which came to prominence in 2005 when several of its inhabitants were killed in a shooting spree by an Israeli settler. [ [http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=7571 "Condolence visits at Sanjil and Qalqilya"] by Ya`acov Manor, kibush.co.il]
In medieval art he is depicted with his symbol, the hind. His emblem is also an
arrow, and he is the patron saintof cripples. Giles is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and the only non- martyr, initially invoked as protection against the Black Death. His feast dayis September 1.
Master of Saint Gillesis an anonymous Late Gothicpainter. The artist was given the title as the first work attributed to him were two works with Saint Giles as the subject now in the National Gallery, London.
The fifth book in the
Brother Cadfaelmurder mystery series by Ellis Peters is titled "The Leper of Saint Giles", set partly in the 'hospital' and chapel of St Giles founded by the monks of Shrewsbury Abbeyhalf a mile from their own enclave. That chapel is now a parish church in its own right, retaining a Norman doorway and a 12th century south wall with a piscina.
*"Vita sancti Aegidii" ("Acta sanctorum", 9 September, 299-304)
Legenda Aurea", 130: Sanctus Egidius ( [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/goldenlegend/GoldenLegend-Volume5.htm#Giles On-line text, in Caxton's translation] )
Fourteen Holy Helpers
Master of Saint Gilles
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06559a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Giles"]
* [http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmag/bk_issue/2003/sepoct/feature3.html The Carnegie Museum of Art: "St. Gilles"]
* [http://vrcoll.fa.pitt.edu/medart/menufrance/sgilles/sgilmain.html Eric White, "Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Gilles"]
* [http://www.regordane.info Regordane Info - The independent portal for The Regordane Way or St Gilles Trail, which commences at St-Gilles-du-Gard.] En icon and Fr icon
* [http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/700/770/779/ludvigsen/pcd0414/html/img0068.html St. Gilles Castle, Tripoli, Lebanon]
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