S Giles Day, 2011
The Feast of S Giles, our Patron, is on the 1st September every year. We celebrate this occasion with a solemn Mass and a big party after the service in our Church Hall. This year our new Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Right Reverend Jonathan Baker, celebrated and preached at our service.
Giles was born in Athens, Greece, in early times. Since his family was very rich, when his parents died, they left him a large fortune. He used this money to help the poor.
Because of this and especially because he worked many miracles, Giles found that people admired him greatly and that he had become very famous.
He did not want their praise, so to be able to serve God in secret; he left Greece and sailed to France. There he went to live alone in a dark forest. He made his home in a rough cave behind a thick thorn bush.
Giles was happy living there alone praying to God, as he did not want to become proud because people praised him all the time. God was pleased with Giles and even sent him a deer to nourish him with her milk.
Many years later, a king and his men were hunting the forest. They chased the deer that quickly went into Giles' cave, which was hidden behind the large thorn bush. One of the men shot an arrow into the thorn bush, hoping to hit the deer. When they forced their way in, they found Giles sitting wounded by the arrow.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" demanded the King. St. Giles told them the story of his life and when they heard it, they asked his forgiveness. The king sent his doctors to take care of the saint's wound.
Although Giles begged to be left alone, the king felt such respect for him that he often came to see him. When the King visited, he brought Giles many gifts but Giles would never take any of the gifts.
But finally, Giles agreed to let the king build a large monastery there. Giles became its first abbot (or head priest). This monastery became so famous that a town soon grew up around it and many people from this town joined the monastery.
When the saint died, his grave at the monastery became a great shrine and people came to visit this holy place on pilgrimage.
In Spain shepherds believed that St. Giles was the protector of Rams and Deer and on his feast day, they tied lighted candles to their horns and brought them down the mountains to the chapels and churches to be blessed.