Feast: September 1
Information: Feast Day: September 1
Born: Athens, Greece
Major Shrine: St. Giles' Cathedral (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Patron of: beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; epilepsy; fear of night; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; noctiphobics; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spur makers; sterility;
An Abbot, said to have been born of illustrious Athenian parentage about the middle of the seventh century. Early in life he devoted himself exclusively to spiritual things, but, finding his noble birth and high repute for sanctity in his native land an obstacle to his perfection, he passed over to Gaul, where he established himself first in a wilderness near the mouth of the Rhone and later by the River Gard. But here again the fame of his sanctity drew multitudes to him, so he withdrew to a dense forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a hind. This last retreat was finally discovered by the king's hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. The king [who according to the legend was Wamba (or Flavius?), King of the Visigoths, but who must have been a Frank, since the Franks had expelled the Visigoths from the neighbourhood of Nîmes almost a century and a half earlier] conceived a high esteem for solitary, and would have heaped every honour upon him; but the humility of the saint was proof against all temptations. He consented, however, to receive thenceforth some disciples, and built a monastery in his valley, which he placed under the rule of St. Benedict. Here he died in the early part of the eighth century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles.
His cult spread rapidly far and wide throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the numberless churches and monasteries dedicated to him in France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the British Isles; by the numerous manuscripts in prose and verse commemorating his virtues and miracles; and especially by the vast concourse of pilgrims who from all Europe flocked to his shrine. In 1562 the relics of the saint were secretly transferred to Toulouse to save them from the hideous excesses of the Huguenots who were then ravaging France, and the pilgrimage in consequence declined. With the restoration of a great part of the relics to the church of St. Giles in 1862, and the discovery of his former tomb there in 1865, the pilgrimages have recommenced. Besides the city of St-Gilles, which sprang up around the abbey, nineteen other cities bear his name, St-Gilles, Toulouse, and a multitude of French cities, Antwerp, Bridges, and Tournai in Belgium, Cologne and Bamberg, in Germany, Prague and Gran in Austria-Hungary, Rome and Bologna in Italy, possess celebrated relics of St. Giles. In medieval art he is a frequent subject, being always depicted with his symbol, the hind. His feast is kept on 1 September. On this day there are also commemorated another St. Giles, an Italian hermit of the tenth century (Acta SS., XLI, 305), and a Blessed Giles, d. about 1203, a Cistercian abbot of Castaneda in the Diocese of Astorga, Spain (op. cit. XLI, 308).
SOURCE the Catholic Encyclopedia
Novena in Honor of St. Giles
For Each Novena to a Holy Helper
For Each Novena to a Holy Helper
ALMIGHTY and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen. Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be each day of the Novena.
Prayer in Honor of St. Giles
O GOD, we beseech Thee to grant us, through the merits and intercession of St. Giles, to flee from the vanity and praise of this world, to avoid carefully all occasions of sin, to cleanse our hearts from all wickedness by a sincere Confession, to leave this world in Thy love and rich in good works, and to find Thee gracious on the day of judgment. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. Giles
ZEALOUS follower of Christ, St. Giles; from early youth thou didst take to heart the words of our Savior: "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart." Therefore thou didst flee from the praise and honors of the world, and wast rewarded with the grace to preserve thy heart from all sin and to persevere in a holy life to a ripe old age. I, on my part, through pride, self-confidence, and negligence, yielded to my evil inclinations, and thereby sinned grievously and often, offending my God and Lord, my Creator and Redeemer, my most loving Father. Therefore I implore thee to help me through thy mighty intercession to be enlightened by the Holy Ghost, that I may know the malice, grievousness, and multitude of my sins, confess them humbly, fully, and contritely, and receive pardon, tranquillity of heart, and peace of conscience from God. Amen.
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.SOURCE:
THE FOURTEEN HOLY HELPERS, Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, O.F.M.