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St. Giles (d. 710?)

Despite the fact that much about St. Giles is shrouded in mystery, we cansay that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages.Likely, he was born in the first half of the 7th century in southeasternFrance. That is where he built a monastery that became a popularstopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain andthe 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 ofsaints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease and forstrength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Sts. Christopher,Barbara and Blase. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them.Devotion to the "Holy Helpers" was especially strong in parts of Germany andin Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles wassoon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.

The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair somecenturies after Giles' death.

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