The History of Leith

August 29, 2012

The church of St. Giles

THE church of St. Giles, or Sanctus Egidius, as I
he is termed in Latin, was the first parochial one
erected in the city, and its history can be satisfactorily
deduced from the early part of the i2th
century, when it superseded, or was engrafted on
an ^edifice of much smaller size and older date,
•one founded about 100 years after the death of
its patron saint, the abbot and confessor St. Giles,
who was born in Athens, of noble—some say royal
—parentage, and who, while young, sold his patrimony
and left his native country, to the end that
he might ^ferve God in retirement. In the year
666 he arrived at Provence, in the south of France,
and chose a retreat near Aries; but afterwards,
desiring more perfect solitude, he withdrew into a
forest near Gardo, in the diocese of Nismes, having
with him only one companion, Veredemus, who
lived witli him on the fruits of the. earth and the
milk of a hind. As Flavius Wamba, King of the
Goths, was one day hunting in the neighbourhood
of Nismes, his hounds pursued her to the hermitage
of the saint, where she took refuge. This hind
has been ever associated with St. Giles, and its
figure is to this day the sinister supporter of the
city arms. (“Caledonia,” ii., p. 773.) St. Giles
died in 721, on the ist of September, which was
always held as his festival in Edinburgh; and to some
disciple of the Benedictine establishment in the
south of France we doubtless owe the dedication
of the parish church there. He owes his memory
in the English capital to Matilda of Scotland,
queen of Henry I., who founded there St. Giles’s
hospital for lepers in 1117. Hence, the large parish
which now lies in the heart of London took its name

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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