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St. Giles

September 1

St. Giles was an Athenian by birth. During his youth he cured a sick beggar by giving him his own cloak. After the death of his parents he gave great alms to the poor and performed many miracles. The people loved him and were always eager to be near him and praise him. St. Giles dreaded this worldly prosperity and applause of men, and decided to live as a hermit. He knew that the healing had nothing to do with his own goodness. He remembered, too, that when the people had surrounded Jesus after He had performed one of His miracles He had escaped from them and gone away alone into a deserted place to pray to God.

He made a hermitage in a cave near the mouth of the Rhone. In this solitude he was for some time nourished with the milk of a hind (the female of the Red deer). This hind was once hunted by a certain king of the Goths, Flavius, who was hunting in the forest. The hind ran to hide in the cave with St Giles. St. Giles prayed and shrubs immediately grew up in the mouth of the cave. The king’s dogs were confused and led the hunters away. The next day the king was hunting again and again the hind escaped into St. Giles’ cave. On the third day the king brought the bishop with him to see the strange behavior of his hounds. This time one of the hunters shot an arrow through the shrubs knowing that somehow the hind was on the other side. They forced their way through and on the other side they saw St. Giles wounded with the arrow and the hind safely between his knees. Flavius and the bishop approached and asked the hermit to tell them what was going on. St. Giles explained everything. The bishop and Flavius begged his pardon and promised to send physicians to attend him. St. Giles begged them to leave him alone and refused all the gifts they pressed upon him.

King Flavius continued to frequently visit St. Giles and ask his advise on many things. St. Giles finally accepted the kings offering of alms and asked the king to build a monastery. The king agreed as long as St. Giles would be the Abbot. The monastery was built near the cave. The reputation of the monks and abbot at this monastery spread far and wide. King Charles of France (Charlemagne) heard about him and asked him to come and give him some spiritual advise. The king told St. Giles everything except one serious sin which he was ashamed to confess. “On the following Sunday, when the holy man was celebrating Mass according to custom and praying to God for the king during the canon, and angel of the Lord appeared to him and laid on the altar a scroll on which was written the sin which the king had committed, and which further said that he would be forgiven at Giles’s intercession, provided he did penance and desisted from that sin in the future . . . When Mass was ended Giles gave the scroll to the king to read, who fell at the saint’s feet, begging him to intercede with the Lord for him. And so the man of the Lord commended him to God in prayer and gently admonished him to refrain from that sin in the future.” After this St. Giles returned to his monastery.

In France, in italy, and in England, for the next hundred years or so, the Church was left in peace; but in Spain a new danger appeared which, in one form or another, was to attack Christendom for nearly a thousand years – the Mohammedans. And another land was added to Christendom, the land we now call Germany.

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