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St Giles of Assisi

Hari OM

Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.

This is most well known, in the UK at least, as Saint George's feast day. That story was explored last year. There are other saints associated with this date. A notable one is St Giles (aka Aegidius of Assisi).

Image result for st giles of assisiA native of Assisi, not a great deal is known about Giles' early life, other than that he was a farmer. By 1208 he was one of the earliest followers of St. Francis, from whom he received the habit in April 23rd, 1209. It is said that Francis had begged for the habit in which Giles was invested. Giles then accompanied Francis on many of his missions around Assisi, made a pilgrimage to Compostela, visited Rome and the Holy Land, and then made an unsuccessful visit to Tunis to convert the Saracens. The Christians in Tunis, fearful of the repercussions of his religious fervor, forced him back on a boat as soon as he landed.

In these journeys Giles was always at pains to procure by manual labor what food and shelter he needed. At Ancona he made reed baskets; at Brindisi he carried water and helped to bury the dead; at Rome he cut wood, trod the wine-press, and gathered nuts; while the guest of a cardinal at Rieti he insisted on sweeping the house and cleaning the knives. A keen observer of men and events, Giles acquired in the course of these travels much valuable knowledge and experience, which he turned to good account. For he lost no occasion to preach to the people. His sermons, if such they can be called, were brief and heartfelt talks, replete with homely wisdom; he never minced his words, but spoke to all with apostolic freedom. After some years of activity Giles was assigned by St. Francis to the hermitage of Monteripido in the region of Perugia, where he began a life of contemplation and ecstasy, (he had a vision of Christ and is considered the most perfect example of the primitive Franciscan), which continued with very visible increase until his death.

It was in 1262, on the fifty-second anniversary of his reception into the Order of Friars Minor, that Aegidius died, already revered as a saint. His immemorial cultus was confirmed by Pope Pius VI in 1777, and his feast day is celebrated on the 23 April.

Giles was a stranger to theological and classical learning, but by constant contemplation of heavenly things, and by the divine love with which he was inflamed, he acquired that fullness of holy wisdom which filled his contemporaries with wonder, and which drew men of every condition, even the Pope himself, to Perugia to hear from Giles' lips the Word of Life. The answers and advice these visitors received were remembered, talked over, and committed to writing, and thus was formed a collection of the familiar "Dicta" or "Sayings" of Brother Giles, which have often been edited in Latin and translated into different languages. St. Bonaventure held these "Sayings" in high esteem, and they are cited in the works of many subsequent ascetical writers. They are short, pithy, popular counsels on Christian perfection, applicable to all classes. Saturated with mysticism, yet exquisitely human and possessing a picturesque vein of originality, they faithfully reflect the early Franciscan spirit and teaching.

He is spoken of at length in "The Little Flowers of St. Francis" and Francis called him his "Knight of the round table." Known for his austerity and silence, St Giles is noted for his humour, deep understanding of human nature, and optimism.

(source; Catholic.org and Wikipedia)

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