Saint Giles: The Iconography

In Provence, St. Giles, Abbot and Confessor. After him is named the town that later grew up in the area where he established a monastery and ended the course of his mortal life. – Roman Martyrology for September 1

The Golden Legend's life of St. Giles devotes its largest section to the story of St. Giles and the doe whom Christ sent to give him milk and companionship in his hermitage. One day the doe fled from hunters to take refuge with St. Giles at his hermitage in the wild near Arles, and one of the hunters accidentally shot the saint instead of the doe, as in the image at left. Giles survived and the king went to visit him. Impressed by the saint's holiness, the king built a monastery in what is now Saint-Gilles-du-Gard and persuaded Giles to direct it.

On the basis of this story, St. Giles's attributes are the doe, the arrow, and a crozier, the symbol of episcopal or abbatial authority, as in the portrait on the right.

The doe should not be confused with St. Eustace's deer, which has antlers and a crucifix.

Prepared in 2013 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University


Master Thomas de Coloswar, The Death of St. Giles (See the description page)

Alcañiz, St. Giles (See the description page)

Alcañiz, St. Giles with Christ Triumphant over Satan (See the description page)


  • 15th century: In Fra Angelico's Five Saints in Munich's Alte Pinakotek, the museum identifies one of the five as Giles, although there are some problems with that identification.


  • Died circa 725


  • Latin name is variously spelled Egidius, Aegidius, or Atgidius.