Little is known of St. Giles (Aegidus in Latin records) except that he may have been born a wealthy aristocratic Greek. When his parents died, Giles used his fortune to help the poor. He became a worker of miracles, and to avoid followers and adulation, he left Greece c. 683 for France where he lived as a hermit in a cave in the deep forests by River Rhône, the mouth of which was guarded by a thick thorn bush. He lived a lifestyle so impoverished that, legend says, God sent a hind to him to nourish him with her milk.
One day after he had lived there for several years in meditation, a royal hunting party chased the hind into Giles' cave. One hunter shot an arrow into the thorn bush hoping to hit the deer, but hit Giles in the leg instead, crippling him (Some legends have it that the arrow pierced his hand or his arm as he held onto the deer to protect her). The king sent doctors to care for the Saint's wound, and though Giles begged to be left alone, the king came often to see him.
From this his fame as sage and miracle worker spread, and would-be followers gathered near the cave. The French king, because of his admiration, built the Monastery of Saint Gilles du Gard at the end of the 11th Century for these followers on the pilgrimage route from Arles to St. James of Compostela in the north of Spain. Giles became its first Abbot, establishing his own discipline there. A small town grew up around the Monastery. When Giles died, his grave became a shrine and place of pilgrimage; the Monastery later became a Benedictine house.
Confraternity of Catholic Clergy: a question
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