Northwest Oak Park’s Catholics flock to and generously support St. Giles, which is a monument not only to Catholic faith and culture but to the rise (mostly) of the Irish from proles to bourgeois, and I don’t mean petit. It’s a grand structure, a “plant” to warm cockles of pastors’ hearts for these 70 or so years. But what of St. Giles the man?
It’s his day today. Those in the know and on the go read Saint of the Day for their information, which is “shrouded in mystery,” but so what? I love a mystery, and so do lots of people.
Giles died in or around 710 (we think). One thing is for sure. He was “one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages.” He hosted pilgrims on their way to Compostella in Spain and the Holy Land in a monastery he built. After he died, he was listed among the 14 Holy Helpers, who were good to pray to when sick or dying — when a fellow needs a friend, to be sure. St. Christopher, who came a-cropper due to historians’ shooting down his existence, was one of the 14.
In any case, Giles was very big in Sweden, Hungary, and parts of Germany and eventually got a reputation for helping the poor and disabled. He couldn’t save his monastery hostel, however. It fell apart some centuries after he died. It was a sort of sic transit experience (there goes glory), which shows saints have them too. St. Giles, pray for us.