Codex Guide : chapter VIII.1  

 

                                                                            

 

  Chapter VIII. Saints' Tombs to be visited. VIII.1

 

  (Arles)

 

  For those taking the St Giles route to Santiago, the first visit must be to the body of St Trophimus the Confessor at Arles, mentioned by St Paul in his Letter to Timothy. Paul made him bishop and he was the first to be sent to Arles to preach. As Pope Zozimus wrote, from this clearest of springs, the whole of France received rivers of faith. His feast day is the 29th December.

 

  Next is the tomb of St Caesarius, bishop and martyr, who in the same city established an order of nuns. His festival is the 1st November.

 

  In the cemetary at Arles pilgrims seek the help of the bishop St Honoratus, whose feast is the 16th January.

 

  The body of the most holy martyr St Genesius lies in his magnificent and venerated church.

 

  Near Arles, between two branches of the River Rhone, in the village of Trinquetaille, is an imposing marble column behind the church. There the faithless populace tied St Genesius before cutting his head off; to this day red bloodstains appear on it. As soon as he was decapitated, he took his head in his own hands and threw it into the Rhone, then floated his body up the middle of the river to the church of St Honoratus, where he lies in honour. His head, borne by the Rhone and the sea current, was brought by an angel to the city of Carthage in Spain, where it now rests in glory and works many miracles. His feast day is the 25th August.

 

  Next to be visited is the cemetery called 'les Alyscamps', near Arles. Custom decrees that you pray for the dead with prayers, psalms and gifts to charity. The cemetery is a mile long and a mile wide, and there is nothing like it for its numbers of marble tombs. They are carved in different styles, and engraved with Latin letters in an unintelligible, ancient language. The further you look, the more tombs you will see.

  In any of the cemetery's seven churches, if a priest says Mass for the dead, or if a layman has a priest devoutly celebrate, or if a clergyman reads the psalms, he will find, at the final resurrection, help among the pious dead to help him achieve salvation in God. For many bodies of martyred saints and confessors lie there, whose souls rejoice together in the seat of paradise. Their commemoration is customarily celebrated on the holiday after the Easter octave.

 

  (Saint Gilles)

 

  Next, look carefully at the worthy body of St Giles, the holy confessor and abbot. St Giles, famous throughout the world, should be venerated, celebrated, held dear, invoked, and asked for favours by all.

  After the prophets and apostles, no saint is more worthy, more holy, more glorious, or quicker to help.

  More than the other saints, he comes quickly to help the poor and sick and anguished who call him. O what a beautiful and precious thing it is to visit his tomb! Pray to him with all your heart, and that day you will be happy.

 

  I myself have proof of what I say. For I saw a man in this town, who had invoked the saint one day, escape by the intercession of the blessed confessor from the dilapidated house of a shoemaker named Peyrot, which collapsed afterwards. Who therefore will see most fully his home? Who will adore God in his sacred basilica? Who will most embrace his tomb? Who will kiss his venerated altar? Who will tell of his most holy life? For a sick man puts on his tunic, and is healed. Through his endless virtue, a man bitten by a snake is healed; another possessed by a demon is liberated; a storm at sea ceases; the daughter of Theocrite is restored after a long illness; a man sick in his entire body is restored to longed-for wellness; a deer, previously indominitible, is tamed to serve him; an order of monks grows with him as abbot protector; a possessed man is liberated from his demons; a sin of Charlemagne, revealed to him by an angel, is forgiven; a dead man is restored to life, and a violated man to his former health; and more, two cypresswood offerings of the bishops carved with images of the apostles arrive from Rome to a port on the Rhone, through the waves and the seas, without anyone steering but solely by his mighty power.

 

  It disgusts me to die because I cannot tell all the things he did that should be venerated, they are so many and so great. This magnificent Greek star, lighting up the people of Provence with his rays, lay among them not declining but growing greater, not losing his light by death but giving it to everybody, redoubled, not descending into the abyss but rising to the summit of Olympus. His setting light did not become dark but, in his heavenly fame, became brighter than all the other saints throughout the four quarters of the world.

  It was in the middle of the night, the first Sunday of September, when this star lay down, called to a throne by a choir of angels, and the Gothic people along with an order of monks gave him an honoured tomb in their free territory, that is, between the city of Nimes and the Rhone.

 

  A large golden casket behind his alter, over his venerable body, is sculpted on the left hand side on the first step with the images of six apostles, and in primacy on the same step a matching image of St. Mary. Higher up on the second step are the signs of the zodiac in this order: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Through them are golden flowers like a vine.

  On the third and highest step are the images of twelve of the twenty-four elders, with these verses written above their heads:

  Behold the splendid chorus of twice-twelve elders,

Who sing sweet songs on their clear lyres.

 

  On the right hand side, on the first level, there are similarly seven other images, of which six are apostles and the seventh is any disciple of Christ that one pleases. Above the heads of the apostles on both sides of the casket are sculpted the images of the virtues that reside in them, in the form of women: goodness, gentleness, faith, hope and charity and so on. On the second level on the right are flowers in the form of a vine. On the third, highest level, as on the left-hand side, are the images of twelve of the twenty-four elders, with these verses written above their heads:

  This extraordinary urn, finished with jewels and gold,

Contains the relics of St. Giles.

Whoever breaks it, the Lord will condemn,

Along with Giles and the heavenly host.

 

  The roof and both sides of the urn are carved in fish scales. Inlaid at its top are thirteen crystal stones, some in chessboard pattern, others like apples or pomegranates. One crystal is a huge fish, a trout, erect, with tail turned upwards.

  The first crystal forms a huge bowl; above it is placed a precious golden cross. In the middle of the front of the urn, the Lord resides in a circle of gold, blessing with his right hand and in his left holding a book, on which is written, 'Choose peace and truth'. Under his footstool is a golden star, and at his outstretched arms are two letters, Α and Ω. Above his throne two precious stones glitter in an indescribable way.

  Next to the throne, on the outside, are the four evangelists, with wings, with scrolls at their feet in which the beginning of their respective gospels are written. Matthew, to the right and above, appears as a man; Luke is below as an ox, John, left and above, is an eagle, and underneath Mark is a lion.

  Next to God's throne you can see two angels, a Cherub on the right with his feet above Luke, and and Seraph on the left, feet above Mark, both finely sculpted.

  Also finely worked are two sets of precious stones of all kinds, one around the Lord's throne, the other around the rim of the urn. Three jewels are places together to represent the Trinity.

  Someone famous for loving the blessed confessor has set with golden nails in the urn, towards the altar, his image in gold, which to this day appears there for the glory of God.

 

  On the other side of the casket, the back, the ascension of the Lord is carved.

  In the first place are six apostles, faces upwards, looking at God as he ascends to heaven. Above their heads is written: 'Men of Galilee! This Jesus, who was assumed into heaven from you. He will come back, as you have seen.'

  On the second level the other six apostles are sculpted, standing in the same way, but here there are golden columns between the apostles and the other parts.

  On the third level God stands straight on a golden throne, with two angels, one on his right, the other on his left, their hands pointing out the Lord to his apostles, one hand pointing upwards, the other downwards.

  Above God's head beyond the throne is a dove, carved as if flying above him.

  On the fourth and highest level is God on another golden throne, with four apostles beside him, Luke as an

 ox southwards and below, and Matthew above as a man. On the other side to the north and below is Mark as a lion, and above, John as an eagle.

  It is important to note that the Divine Majesty on the throne is not seated, but stands straight with his back to the south and his head raised as if looking to heaven. His right hand is raised and he holds a cross in his left, and thus he ascends to his Father who awaits him at the top of the casket.

 

  And so stands the tomb of Blessed Giles the Confessor, in which his venerated body lies in honour. The Hungarians who say they have his body should blush; the monks of Chamalieres who dream they have his whole corpse should be bankrupted; those men of Saint-Seine who claim to have his head, should melt away; likewise the Normans of Coutances who glory in having his body should be struck by awe, for it has been tested by many that at no time his sacred bones could be removed from his own region.

  Certain men once tried to take away a venerable arm of the Blessed Confessor from his homeland to distant shores, but were utterly unable to take it with them.

  There are four holy bodies which many witnesses attest are not possible to remove from their own sarcophagi: St James, son of Zebedee; St Martin of Tours; St Leonard of Limousin; and St Giles the Confessor. Tradition has it that Philip, King of France, once attempted to take these bodies to France, but nothing could move them from their own tombs.

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delhommeb at wanadoo.fr - 01/01/2013