SAINT GILES - PATRON SAINT OF THE DISABLED, (PARALYMPIANS), LEPERS,
THE HOMELESS, BEGGARS; AND BLACKSMITHS!
Although we know relatively little about St Giles, it is believed he lived in the late 7th – early 8th century, mostly in Provence.
It appears Giles was originally from Athens, but fled to France and became a hermit, living in a forest near the mouth of the Rhône.
According to one account, while out hunting, Wamba, King of the Visigoths, chased a hind into the hermitage where Giles lived. Wamba is said to have shot an arrow which maimed Giles, with whom the hind had taken refuge. This is why Giles is commonly depicted in icons with a deer.
Another legend tells that Wamba was so impressed with Giles’ holiness that he founded an abbey for him. The town that grew around this abbey, St Gilles, became an important pilgrimage place, particularly in the Middle Ages as the abbey became a safe refuge for those travelling on
the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. A 12th Century church Saint-Gilles-du-Gard now stands where Giles’ monastery was said to have been built.
St Giles was one of the most popular medieval saints. In England, 160 churches were dedicated to St Giles, of which St Giles Cripplegate (1090) in the City of London, is one of the oldest. St Giles is the patron saint of disabled people, lepers, beggars and blacksmiths and his feast day is celebrated on the first of September.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord,
that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Giles
may commend us unto thee:
that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves,
may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who being God,
lives and reigns with You in the unity of the same Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.
God of Compassion,
in Jesus Christ You cared for those
who were blind and deaf,
crippled or slow to learn.
By our concern, sensitivity and thoughtfulness
may your love be known.
Lord Our God, you make every person in your divine image. You know our needs and you fulfill our desires. You protect us when we are fragile and give us courage for each new day. Help us to understand the power and wisdom of human vulnerability. Open our hearts to accept our weakness in your strength. Give us the courage to break down the barriers
that separate us from one another.
Enable us to reach out lovingly to all your children, so that, together, we may all participate fully in parish life and worship. Make us grateful for the talents and abilities that all people can share with the Church. Guide our actions to create truly welcoming communities that are open to the gifts of each individual, celebrating our interdependence with respect for all life. Help us to appreciate all those, living with disabilities, who contribute their time and talents, even in the face of obstacles or misunderstanding. We look to the future with optimism and with faith in you, as we pursue our call to provide justice and fullness of life for all people with disabilities. We pray that every man, woman, and child may develop their potential. We offer you these prayers as one flock, following the same shepherd, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.