Giles (Aegidius) (died c.710), hermit. St. Giles became immensely popular in the Middle Ages, although little is known about him. We do know he was born in the 7th century and founded a monastery at the place later called Saint-Gilles (Provence) on land given by a king Wamba. His shrine became an important pilgrimage centre on the route for both Compostella and the Holy Land as well as in its own right. A legend recorded in the 10th century says that whilst out hunting King Wamba was in pursuit of a hind; he shot an arrow at it which wounded and crippled Giles, with whom the hind had taken refuge.
From Provence his cult spread, partly through Crusaders, to other parts of Europe, and he was particularly linked with the patronage of cripples, lepers, and nursing mothers (based on the story of his giving shelter to the hind). In England 162 ancient churches were dedicated to him and at least 24 hospitals. At least two famous fairs in England are connected with St. Giles day: one in Winchester, no longer extant, and the other at Oxford, which is still held annually. Feast: 1st September.
Adapted from: David Hugh Farmer: The Oxford Dictionary of Saints Oxford University Press (1984 edition):173.
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