Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Great Orton: St Giles

The Life of Saint Giles

Saint Giles born c 650, died c 710. Early-on Saint Giles lived in retreats near the mouth of the Rhone and by the River Gard in Septimania, (southern France).

Giles withdrew deep into the forest near Nimes, where in great solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being his red deer, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. Giles ate a Christian vegetarian diet.

His retreat was finally discovered by King Wamba's hunters, who had pursued the deer to its place of refuge. An arrow shot at the deer wounded Giles instead, who afterwards became a patron of the physically disabled.

King Wamba, later held Giles in high esteem for his humility in rejecting all honours, save having some disciples. Wamba built him a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which Giles placed under the Benedictine rule. He died there in the early part of the 8th century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles.

Saint Giles is the patron saint of the physically disabled (cripples); he is also invoked as a saint for childhood fears, convulsions, depression, particularly in Normandy. He was initially invoked as protection against the Black Death.

In medieval art, he is depicted with his symbol, the hind (deer). His emblem is also an arrow.

His feast day is 1st September.

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