Today is the feast of St Giles, the seventh to eighth century abbot who founded the abbey of St Gilles in Provence and became noted as a patron of numerous medieval churches and of particular groups. Having been baptised in my home parish church dedicated to him and where I was to grow in faith St Giles is an important figure in my own spiritual journey.
St Giles with his hind
Thomas of Koloswar circa 1420
A detail from the Garamzsentbenedek altar now in Budapest
An Athenian who fled to Provence in search of solitude St Giles, living as a hermit, was inadvertently injured, and thus discovered by King Wamba, when the saint saved his hind from the king’s hunters. Made abbot of a monastery which eventually became his shrine his fame and cult spread under Cluniac influence and because the abbey was a focal point for pilgrims taking the Pilgrimage route to Santiago to Spain and northwards to France, England, Scotland, the Low Countries, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Italy.
His legend and cult are set out by Wikipedia at Saint Giles
Wikipedia also has introductions to the town of St Gilles-du-Gard at Saint-Gilles, Gard and to the history and remains of the abbey church at Abbey of Saint-Gilles
Sadly, as a result of extensive destruction in 1562 during the Wars of Religion, all that remains of the great medieval church are the crypt with the relics of St Giles - returned in 1862 after three centuries in Toulouse - the ruins of the choir and the spectacular lower stage of the west front with its great and theatrical portals leading to the smaller church rebuilt in the seventeenth century.
There are pictures of the serviving features and more about the history of the church at Assassination and the Whip at Saint-Gilles-du-Gard
The west portals and their sculpture are also discussed at Romanesque façade of the abbey of Saint-Gilles du Gard
St Giles with his emblematic hind
From a Wallace Collection manuscript
Image: catholicexchange.org/ Fr Lawrence Lew O.P.
St Giles Pray for us