Saint Giles








Saint Giles, also known as Saint Giles the Hermit, was a hermit and monk who was active in the 6th century and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.








Saint Giles lived in different retreats and hermitages near the mouth of the River Rhone and near the River Gard in Septimania. In the Legenda Aurea, he spends many years in solitude in the forest near Nimes where his only companion was a red deer. As he ate only a vegetarian diet, Saint Giles was often fortified and sustained by milk from the deer. Hunters in the kingdom managed to catch the deer's scent and tracked it back to the hermitage where they immediately loosed an arrow. The arrow found it's mark not in the deer but in Saint Giles, hitting him in the leg and wounding him.


The king, a King by the name of Wamba, was so moved in Saint Giles's humility that he built for him a monastery in the valley now known as Saint-Gilles-du-Gard. Saint Giles placed the monastery under Benedictine rule and would eventually die after becoming well known for his sanctity and miracles. A second legend dating from the 10th century, the Vita sancti Aegidii, ells that as Saint Giles was celebrating Mass for Emperor Charlemagne, an angel deposited on the altar a letter that wrote in detailed a sin to terrible and awful that the Emperor had never dared to confession. The letter would become well known as the "sin of Charlemagne".


The town of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard was formed around the abbey and grew quickly. During the Middle Ages Saint Giles was extremely popular and many churches and monasteries were dedicated him throughout Europe. Today Saint Giles is the patron saint of cripples, disabled people, breast cancer, breast feeding among many other patronages. Saint Giles is the only member of the Fourteen Holy Helpers that was not a martyr and was often invoked in protection against the Black Death. His feast day is celebrated on September 1st.

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