Saint Giles was one of the most popular saints of West Europe in the later Middle Ages and about whom little is known. The centre of his cultus was at St Giles near Arles. He may have been a hermit in that neighbourhood before the 9th century. A life of him for the pilgrims to his shrine was composed in the 10th century : it includes some startling wonders and anachronisms and one celebrated incident.
The hermit had a pet hind which one day
was hunted in the woods by the Visigoth
King Wamba. An arrow was loosed into the
undergrowth and when the king
rode into the clearing there was Giles,
himself wounded by the arrow
protecting the hind in his arms and the
hounds rooted motionless by an invisible
power. Variations of this tale are told
of several other Saints.
St Giles was looked on as a patron
saint of cripples and the indigent and
in Britain alone over 150 churches
are dedicated in his honour.
Penguin Dictionary of Saints
Data transcribed by
from photography by Colin Hinson