Saint of the day:
One of the Holy Helpers
Patron Saint of beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; Edinburgh (Scotland);
epilepsy; fear of night; noctiphobics; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spur makers; sterility
Saint Giles’ Story
Despite the fact that much about Saint Giles is shrouded in mystery, we can say that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Likely, he was born in the first half of the seventh century in southeastern France. That is where he built a monastery that became a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain, and the Holy Land.
In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease, and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Saints Christopher, Barbara, and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the “Holy Helpers” was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.
The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles’ death.
Abbey of Saint-Gilles, France
Saint Giles Parish, Broadgate Salon, 76 Lower Broad St, Ludford, Ludlow SY8 1PH, UK
St Giles' Cathedral
High Kirk of Edinburgh
This is the feast of a saint as appealing as any in the calendar. Saint Giles, so identified with France, was, according to some, a Greek of the eighth century named Aegidius who passed over to Gaul and became a hermit, later founding a famous monastery under the Benedictine rule. In his first retreat, his legend runs, he had little to eat, so God sent him a hind to feed him with her milk. One day the Frankish king of the land was out hunting, and coming across the hind, he prepared to shoot it with an arrow. But the animal ran to Giles for protection and the arrow meant for her pierced the leg of Giles. So, a cripple himself, he became the patron and protector of the lame. His relics are honored at Saint-Gilles in France, the town that sprang up around his abbey, where pilgrimages take place even today. He is also honored especially in other parts of France, in Germany, Poland, Spain, and the British Isles. Frequently depicted in art, his symbol is the hind. In England, churches named for Saint Giles were built so that cripples could reach them easily, and he was also considered the chief patron of the poor. That in his name charity was granted the most miserable is shown from the custom that on their passage to Tyburn for execution, convicts were allowed to stop at St. Giles' Hospital where they were presented with a bowl of ale called Saint Giles' Bowl, "thereof to drink at their pleasure, as their last refreshing in this life." Once in Scotland during the seventeenth century his relics were stolen from a church and a great riot occurred. In Spain the shepherds consider Saint Giles the protector of rams, and on his feast it was formerly the custom to wash the rams and color their wool a bright shade, tie lighted candles to their horns, and bring the animals down the mountain paths to the chapels and churches to have them blessed. A similar custom prevails among the Basques. On September 1st, the shepherds come down from the Pyrenees, attired in their full costume, sheepskin coats and staves and crooks, to attend Mass with their best rams, in honor of Saint Giles. This is the beginning in the Basque country of a number of autumn festivals, marked by processions and dancing in the fields.
1/2 lb. dried beans
1 cup chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped onions
1 clove garlic
1 cup pumpkin pieces salt and pepper
8 cups stock
Soak the beans overnight, then rinse and drain.
Brown the onion in a little bacon grease,
then add the pumpkin, cabbage, beans, and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper and add the stock.
Simmer for about three hours in a covered soup kettle.