The French king, because of his admiration, built the monastery of Saint Gilles du Gard for these followers, and Giles became its first abbot, establishing his own discipline there.
He was born a wealthy noble. To avoid followers and adulation, he left Greece c.683 for France where he lived as a hermit in a cave in the diocese of Nimes. He spent many years in solitude conversing only with God, and in the greatest solitude, his sole companion was a hind. Legend says, God sent Giles the female deer to nourish him with her milk.
One day after he had lived there for several years in meditation, a royal hunting party chased the deer into Giles’ cave. One hunter shot an arrow into the thorn bush, hoping to hit the deer, but instead hit Giles in the leg, crippling him. The king sent doctors to care for the hermit‘s wound, and though Giles begged to be left alone, the king came often to see him.
From this, Gile’s fame as sage and miracle worker spread, and would-be followers gathered near the cave. The French king, because of his admiration, built the monastery of Saint Gilles du Gard for these followers, and Giles became its first abbot, establishing his own discipline there. A small town grew up around the monastery, and upon Giles’ death, his grave became a shrine and place of pilgrimage. The monastery later became a Benedictine house.
The combination of the town, monastery, shrine and pilgrims led to many handicapped beggars hoping for alms. This and Giles’ insistence that he wished to live outside the walls of the city, and his own damaged leg, led to his patronage of beggars, and to cripples since begging was the only source of income for many. Hospitals and safe houses for the poor, crippled, and leprous were constructed in England and Scotland, and were built so cripples could reach them easily.
Feast Day: 1 September
Source : www.catholiconline.org