St. Giles and the Deer

From: Renaissancethe Seven Dials Trust Newsletter (2014):

The Renaissance Studies analysed street furniture and found seven types of bollards in this small area…De-cluttering is a current fashion…to replace it in a way which provides interest and some historical context…Peter Heath (WS Atkins) and Dr. John Martin Robinson proposed using the historic emblem of the ancient Parish of St. Giles – the Golden Hind – now on all the area’s street furniture. Shaftesbury plc have taken up the idea in marketing their Seven Dials Estate via a new emblem and also used some of our historical research. (Installations by Camden Council in June – July 2014)”

https://youtu.be/OlkOq6-PvaU

From Wikipedia:

“Giles first lived in retreats near the mouth of the Rhône and by the River Gard in Septimania, in today’s southern France. The story that he was the son of King Theodore and Queen Pelagia of Athens is probably an embellishment of his early hagiographers; it was given wide currency in the Legenda Aurea. The two main incidents in his legend were often depicted in art.

The Legenda Aurea links him with Arles, but finally he withdrew deep into the forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being his dear deer, or red deer, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. Giles ate a Christian vegetarian diet.This retreat was finally discovered by the king’s hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. An arrow shot at the deer wounded the saint instead, who afterwards became a patron of the physically disabled. The king, by legend, was Wamba, an anachronistic Visigoth, but must have been a Frank in the original story due to the historical setting. He held the hermit in high esteem for his humility in rejecting all honors save having some disciples. Wamba built him a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which Giles placed under the Benedictine rule. He died there in the early part of the 8th century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles.

A 10th-century Vita sancti Aegidii recounts that, as Giles was celebrating Mass to pardon the Emperor Charlemagne’s sins, an angel deposited upon the altar a letter outlining a sin so terrible Charlemagne had never dared confess it. Several Latin and French texts, including the Legenda Aurea refer to this hidden “sin of Charlemagne”. This legend, however, contradicts the well established later dates for the life of Charlemagne (approximately 742 – 28 January 814).

A later text, the Liber miraculorum sancti Aegidii (“The Book of Miracles of Saint Giles”) served to reinforce the flow of pilgrims to the abbey.”

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/master-of-saint-giles-saint-giles-and-the-deer

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