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S. Giles, Abbat and Confessor.
S. GILES, or EGIDIUS, was born at Athens, about the middle of the seventh century. His family was noble, and, as some say, of royal descent. While he was still young, he sold his patrimony, and left his native country, that he might serve God in retirement. He arrived in Provence in the year 666, according to the best authorities. He at first chose a retreat near Arles, whence he has often been confounded with another Giles, who lived a century and a half earlier, and who was sent on an embassy to Rome by S. Cæsarius, archbishop of Arles, in 514.
S. Giles then retired, for the sake of more perfect solitude and disengagement from the world, into a forest near the river Gardo, in the diocese of Nismes. He took with him only one companion, Veredemus, who lived with him on the fruits of the earth, and the milk of a hind. As Flavius Wamba, a king of the Goths, was one day hunting in the neighbourhood of
Nismes, his dogs pursued her to the hermitage of the saint, where she took refuge. The king was astonished to find the holy man in such a wild region. He treated him with great reverence, and tried to prevail on him to leave his solitude. But finding it in vain, he gave him land for the endowment of a monastery, which was founded probably in 673. The spot where it stood was called Vallis Flaviana, from the name of the royal founder. It was gradually filled with monks of the Benedictine order; but in later years it came into the possession of secular canons. Its constitutions were submitted in 684 to the approval of pope Benedict II. who bestowed upon it many exemptions and privileges.
In the government of this house S. Giles spent more than fifty years of his life. During the invasion of the Sarazins in 720, he fled with his monks into the central part of France, and was invited by Charles Martel to take refuge at Orleans, where his court then was. In 721, Eudo, duke of Aquitain, defeated the infidels, in a battle fought near Toulouse, and drove them out of the kingdom. S. Giles then returned to his abbey, and died there, before the second incursion of the Sarazins in 725.
His sanctity was attested by miracles, and was publicly honoured in the ninth age, though his name does not appear in the martyrologies of that time. Before the end of the eleventh century his fame had been carried into Hungary. In Germany many churches and monasteries were dedicated in his honour. About the middle of the thirteenth age, Pope Urban IV. appointed a commemoration of him to be made in the office of the 1st of September, which was confirmed
and slightly altered by S. Pius V. three centuries later. S. Giles has always been highly venerated in France and Belgium, and in other countries. In Britain, at this day, many churches bear his name. In 1117, Matilda, the wife of king Henry I., founded an hospital for lepers without the walls of the city of London, under his invocation. It gave its name to the parish in which it was situated, and afterwards became a cell to the hospital of Burton S. Lazarus of Jerusalem. The master and brethren of S. Giles used formerly to present a bowl of ale to every felon, as he passed their gate on his way to Tyburn.
S. Giles is the patron or tutelar saint of Edinburgh. In the fifteenth century, during the reign of king James II., Preston of Gorton brought an arm bone of the saint to the Scottish capital, by the favour of the king of France. He bestowed it on the church of S. Giles, and the magistrates, out of gratitude, granted a charter to his heirs, in virtue of which they had the right to bear the holy relic in all public processions. The citizens also founded and endowed an altar, and appointed an annual solemn mass of requiem to be sung for the soul of the donor. The relic was enshrined in silver, and was preserved with becoming honour till the ancient faith was abolished. It was then destroyed, and its costly shrine, with the other sacred vessels of the church, was sold for the benefit of the corporation.
The parish church of Edinburgh was probably founded in 854. It certainly existed under the invocation of S. Giles in 1359. Part of the building, of which the wreck still remains, was finished in 1380. In 1387, the aisles on the south side were added;
and in 1462, the choir was built. It was then within the diocess of S. Andrew's, and in the patronage of the bishop of Lindisfarne, and afterwards of the abbat and canons of Dunfermline. It once contained about forty altars, dedicated in honour of the saints. King James III., in 1466, erected it into a collegiate church, with a provost, a curate, sixteen prebendaries, a minister of the choir, four choristers, a sacristan, and a beadle. Of later events I cannot speak, for very shame and grief of heart. "O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled, and made Jerusalem a heap of stones. The dead bodies of Thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the air, and the flesh of Thy saints unto the beasts of the land. . . Lord, how long wilt Thou be angry; shall Thy jealousy burn like fire for ever? ... O remember not our old sins, but have mercy upon us, and that soon, for we are come to great misery."
Israel yet hath thousands sealed,
God will aid the work begun,
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S. Enurchus, Bishop.
S. ENURCHUS, or EVURTIUS, a subdeacon of the Roman Church, came into Gaul early in the fourth century. More than fifty years before, a band of missioners had been sent from Rome to teach the
faith in that country, as we have already seen
in the life of S. Lucian. S. Enurchus was chosen bishop of Orleans, and in the second year after his election, he saved the city from being destroyed by fire. He consecrated a church in honour of the Holy Cross, with some of its precious fragments which he had obtained from Jerusalem, through the kindness of the emperor Constantine. He laboured for more than twenty years in abolishing pagan superstition. And after having converted nearly the whole city to the Christian faith, he was taken to rest about the year 340. The vault in which he was buried was afterwards enlarged into a church, and became the cemetery of the bishops of Orleans. His name is famous in the western martyrologies, though few particulars of his life have been preserved. Three translations have been made of his relics. A celebrated abbey at Orleans bears his name. He is not now included in the Roman kalendar, but he is honoured with a commemoration, in the Parisian and other French breviaries, on the 7th of September.
It seemed the gathering of past years,