1) Saint-Gilles displays an elaborate and creative Romanesque facade
St. Gilles du Gard, France. Facade
The Church was also a battleground between Protestant Reformer Huguenots and the Catholic Church, Reformation era. In many such churches, the Protestants attacked the Roman Church's dependence on images by whacking off or defacing heads, but then failed to replace it with other visual inspirations.
2) St-Gilles du Gard, honoring a 7th Century hermit-saint, Gilles;
Crypt, Saint Gilles du Gard, France. St. Gilles
Did he really have a camel as a companion? See FN 1 for camel discussion.
It was also a Benedictine Abbey, now a ruin, beside the Church, but with traces of the kind of grandeur that the Reformers attacked
Abbey ruin, St-Gilles du Gard adjacent to Church
3) St-Gilles is also a stop on the Way of Saint James, for pilgrims passing through on he way to Santiago de Compostela; statue representing a pilgrim, with staff and broad-brimmed hat is in the crypt. In some ways, this costume more resembles the horse and bull herders (our cowboys, similar) in the Camargue, see Stes. Maries de la Mer -- the white horses, the bulls bred for the fighting, and the roughriders making it all happen. But why would a Camargue bull-horseman be at St-Gilles?
St. Gilles du Gard, France, crypt statue of pilgrim, Way of Saint James
3) in 1208 or so, the site of one of the events leading to the Catholic Albigensian Crusade to kill those who dissented from the dogma, the Cathars, or Albigenses (town of Albi): the killing of the Pope's emissary, the Cistercian Pierre de Castelnau, who had been sent by the Pope to negotiate with the heretics to bring them to their doctrinal and hierarchical senses, and the public penance of the Cathar Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, followed by the full crusading armies in the Languedoc wiping them out over the next 40 years, until the fall of Montsegur;
5) a refuge for the French Protestant Huguenots in the 1550's, see Wars of Religion timeline at http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/2001/issue71/13.26.html
Good overview site: see http://www.languedoc-france.info/030418_stgilles.htm
- For more on the camel, click here, http://www.medart.pitt.edu/menufrance/sgilles/socandbase/sgcpleftsoc.html; or scroll down at http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/france/saintgilles/stgilles/bases.html/ Then find out that it is a dromedary: one hump signifies an Arabian or Indian camel known as a dromedary. If our fellow here had two humps, he would hail from Central Asia.
- Our guidebook had this information: that the hermit-saint from Athens indeed arrived with a camel Tripoli was known as the land of camels, trade was energetic and wide-ranging on those days, so the creatures were already known, if not usual in these parts. Gilles and his camel appeared devoted to each other. Upon the death of Gilles, the camel was not provided for, and languished until the town was shamed into taking pity, it nurtured it until it was well and lived out a natural life.