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Giles of Assisi, Bl.


Third companion of St. Francis of Assisi; b. Assisi, c.1190; d. Perugia, April 22, 1262. Coming from peasant stock, he joined Francis at the Portiuncula on April 23, 1208, and was with him in his early missions. Very early on, Giles undertook pilgrimages to the main shrines of the times, the Holy Land, as well as an aborted trip to Tunisia where he wanted to die as a martyr. Shortly after the death of Francis, Giles spent prolonged periods in various hermitages where visions and mystical states took place. The early sources painted a conflicting picture of him. The official Legends (e.g., Celano, Bonaventure) highlighted his contemplative gifts, while the non-official sources, (e.g., the Leonine Corpus, The Chronicle of the Twenty-four Generals ) saw him not only as a mystic but also as an exemplar of the early Franciscan ideal and a dissident of the evolution of the Order and its abandonment of poverty. Giles is also remembered for his pithy and pungent Dicta, or Golden Sayings (300 or so) reminiscent in style and spirit of the Admonitions of Francis and the Apopthegmata of the Desert Fathers. Pius VI beatified him in 1777.

Feast: April 23.

Bibliography: Dicta Beati Aegidii Assisiensis (Quaracchi-Florence 1905); The Golden Words, trans. i. o'sullivan (Chicago 1966); La Sapienza di Frate Egidio Compagno di San Francesco con I Detti, ed. and trans. e. mariani (Venice 1981). r. brown, Franciscan Mystic (Garden City, N.Y. 1962).

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