A Garner of Saints – Saint Giles

detail of a painting of Saint Giles; by Hans Memling, 1491; oil on panel, altar triptych, Cathedral of Lübeck, Germany; now in the Sankt-Annen-Museum, Lübeck, Germany; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(Latin: Egidius; Italalian: Egidio; French Gilles) Born of a noble family of Athens; but seeing that his piety and erudition attracted great attention, he fled to France in order that he might lead a solitary life. Before his departure he went one day to the church and saw a sick man lying on the ground and asking alms. He gave the beggar his tunic, and as soon as the man had put it on he was healed. On his voyage to France the ship was assailed by a fearful tempest, but at his prayers the tumult ceased. When they landed the sailors took him with them, and continued to accompany him until he had found a cell, after which they left him. In his cell he lived in complete solitude, being nourished by a hind, who allowed him to milk her at certain hours. But the king’s sons hunted in the forest, and seeing the hind, chased her with their dogs. And being hard pressed, the hind took refuge at the feet of Giles, and he prayed that God would preserve the creature’s life. The dogs would not come within a stone’s cast of the holy man, but returned howling to the huntsman, who went home empty-handed. When the king heard what had happened he hastened to the spot, followed by the bishop and a multitude of huntsmen, but the dogs, as before, would not go near, and ran away howling. Then a huntsman, in order to make the hind move, shot an arrow carelessly, which severely wounded the holy man. The knight, however, followed the path, and found the holy man dressed like a monk, with the hind at his feet. The bishop and king went up to him, ordering the others to remain behind, and asked him who he was, and why he was there. And when he told them all, they asked his pardon for the wound, promising to send physicians. They also offered him many gifts, but he refused both the gifts and the medicine, praying to God that he might never again enjoy his former health. After this the king visited him frequently, and offered him large sums, which he refused for himself, but accepted for the purpose of founding a monastery, of which he subsequently took charge. When Charles Martel heard of his fame he sent for him and received him reverently. The king asked Giles to pray for him, as he had committed a terrible sin which he dared to confess to no one. The following day as Giles was praying for the king, an angel appeared to him, and placed a schedule upon the altar, upon which it was written that the king had been pardoned at Giles’s intercession, but that he must abstain from the sin in future. Giles returned in honour to Nantes and raised the king’s son to life. He died about the beginning of the eighth century. Among other events related of him, are a visit from King Childebert, and the casting out of a devil from a man in a church. 1 September.

Attributes

  • Hind taking refuge, the saint’s hand pierced by an arrow.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Giles”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 April 2017. Web. 21 October 2017. <>