Saint Giles, also known as Giles the Hermit, was a man of great devotion and holiness who lived a life of solitude in a remote forest near the town of Nîmes in France. He was a hermit or monk, active in the lower Rhône region in the 6th century, and was revered as a saint by many people.

Giles lived a simple and ascetic life in the forest, abstaining from any material possessions or comforts and living on a strict Christian vegetarian diet. According to tradition, his only companion was a hind, or red deer, who sustained him on her milk.

The hind and Saint Giles had a special bond, and they spent many happy years together in the forest, living a peaceful and simple life. However, one day, the king’s hunters stumbled upon the hind and began to pursue her through the forest.

Despite her best efforts to evade them, the hind was eventually caught and killed, leaving Saint Giles heartbroken and alone. As the hunters closed in on the hind, they fired an arrow at her, hoping to kill her and bring an end to the chase. However, the arrow missed its target and instead struck Saint Giles, who was standing nearby.

The injury was serious, and Saint Giles was left with a permanent physical disability. Despite this, he remained deeply devoted to the hind and the special bond that they had shared. He continued to live in the forest, sustained by the memory of the hind which he had spent many years with.

Over time, Saint Giles’s devotion and holiness became known far and wide, and he became revered as a patron of breast feeding and the physically disabled. People flocked to him from all over Europe, seeking guidance and inspiration from his life of humility and devotion.

Eventually, the Visigoth king Wamba heard about Saint Giles and was moved by his humility and devotion. Wamba held the hermit in high esteem and decided to honor him by building a monastery in the valley where he lived.

The monastery, called Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, was placed under the Benedictine rule, and Saint Giles became its founder and abbot. He spent the rest of his days at the monastery, continuing to live a simple and ascetic life and helping to guide and inspire those around him.

Saint Giles’s cult spread rapidly throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, with many churches, monasteries, and manuscripts dedicated to him. He became one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and was particularly revered as a patron saint of breast feeding and the physically disabled.

His feast day is celebrated on September 1, and he is still invoked by those seeking guidance and support in these areas of life.

Saint Giles, pray for us!


Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
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