St Giles

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Hermit. St Giles was was one of the most popular saints of Western Europe in mediaeval times. He is said to have been a Greek Christian from Athens, who settled near Arles in France, sometime during the ninth century. According to one legend, he had a pet hind. One day when the Visigoth king Wamba was hunting in the woods and shot an arrow into the undergrowth, he came across the saint wounded by the arrow, and holding the hind in his arms. The king's hunting dogs were miraculously rooted to the spot.

St Giles became known as a patron of the crippled, lepers and nursing mothers. The tomb in the abbey Giles was said to have founded, in Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, became a place of pilgrimage and a stop on the road that led from Arles to Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrim Way of St James.

In England, 162 churches and at least 24 hospitals were dedicated to him. The most famous one is St Giles, in Edinburgh and St Giles, Cripplegate in London.

At least two famous fairs were named after in him in Winchester and Oxford. In Germany he was known as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

His churches were often found at road junctions, which travellers could visit while their horses were being shod nearby. St Giles is also a patron of blacksmiths.

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