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The Saints In Art - G

( Originally Published 1908 )

GABRIEL, ST. (the Archangel, primarily the messenger angel). (18th March)

He foretold the birth of St. John the Baptist, and of the Virgin Mary, but his chief importance in art is as the Angel of the Annunciation.

He is represented winged, generally with a lily, sometimes with a sceptre or scroll in his hand.

GEMINIANUS, ST. (Bishop of Modena about 450, and Patron Saint of that city). (31st January and 4th April)

When Modena was threatened by Attila, King of the Huns, he saved it by his intercession.

He is represented as a bishop, sometimes holding a model of the cathedral, or city of Modena in his hand.

Paintings of his life and miracles in the Municipio, San Gimignano.

GENEVIEVE, ST. (of Paris). (Ital S. GENOVEVA.) (3rd January)

A shepherdess of Nanterre, near Paris. When seven years old she was noticed by St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, as he was passing through her native village, and consecrated by him to the service of GOD. Many miracles are recorded of her even in childhood. Her mother, on boxing her ears, was struck blind, but her sight was restored two years afterwards by her daughter's prayers. When her parents died, she went to Paris, where she lived in piety and chastity with an old kinswoman. For many years she underwent many persecutions, both from men and demons, but only increased in virtue. When Attila was about to lay siege to Paris, and the inhabitants became panic-stricken, she came forth as their leader, and exhorted them with such enthusiasm that she restored their fainting spirits. Later on, when Childeric besieged Paris, she was indefatigable in her ministrations, and herself took command of the boats that brought in provisions. After the capture of the city, Childeric treated her with the same veneration as she received from the Parisians, and through her influence his son Clovis and his wife embraced Christianity. She died in a good old age, and was buried by the side of the King and Queen.

She is generally represented veiled, with a lighted taper, or as a shepherdess, with sheep around her, and with a distaff, or book, in her hand.

GEORGE, ST. (of Cappadocia). (Patron Saint of England.) (23rd April)

According to legend he was born of Christian parents, in the reign of Diocletian, in Cappadocia, and became a tribune in the army. While travelling through Lybia, he came to a place where a monstrous dragon, living in a marsh, ravaged the neighbourhood. The people were compelled to offer, first sheep, and, when these were exhausted, children, to appease it. These were taken by lot, and, when at last the lot fell on the King's daughter, Cleodolinda, the people insisted that she should be sacrificed. So she was led out as a victim, to the dragon, and she wept. Now St. George happened to see her, as he passed by. She bade him hurry on, lest he should perish too, but he, making the sign of the cross, attacked the dragon, and, after a fierce combat, pierced it with his lance. Then he bound the dragon fast with the girdle of the princess, and they led it after them into the city. When he told the people that he had conquered through the might of his GOD, the king, and many thou-sands were converted, and baptised. During the persecutions of Diocletian, St. George was submitted to the most cruel tortures ; he was bound to a cross, and torn with sharp nails ; he was burnt and beaten, and given a deadly poison to drink, but, making the sign of the cross, he remained unhurt. Many other miraculous escapes are told of him (notably his immunity in a cauldron of boiling oil, after his destruction of the temple of Apollo). Finally his persecutors were exasperated, and he was beheaded. He has had particular veneration in England since the time of Richard the First, whose armies were under his special protection.

He is represented armed, often on horse-back, with a lance (sometimes broken) or sword in his hand, slaying the dragon.

Frescoes by Carpaccio in San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice.


GERVASIUS and PROTASlUS, SS. (19th June)

According to legend, they were twin brothers, and giants, who suffered for the faith under Nero, and were sent bound to Milan, where they were martyred, and buried in a private garden. The spot was revealed in a vision to St. Ambrose when he was anxiously desiring relics for his new cathedral of Milan (see ST. AMBROSE), and their remains, which showed miraculous healing properties, were removed thither, and the church dedicated to them, till the death of St. Ambrose, when it became St. Ambrogio Maggiore. They became popular in France as SS. Gervais et Protais, and pictures of them are not uncommon.

Generally represented together, St. Gervais with a scourge with thongs, St. Protais with a sword.

GILES, ST. (Lat. EGIDIUS ; Ital. EGIDIO ; Fr. GILLES or GIL). (1st September)

According to legend was a noble Athenian, who fled from his country to France, and became a hermit, in a wilderness at the mouth of the Rhone, not far from Nismes. Here he lived in a cave, on herbs and the milk of a hind. One day the King was hunting near by, and shot the stag, which ran to St. Giles' cave for refuge. There he was found by the hunters — an old man, kneeling at prayer, and they asked his forgiveness and blessing. He refused to leave his cave, and died there about 541. There arose on the spot a famous monastery, afterwards Benedictine. St. Giles became later very popular in England and Scotland.

He is represented generally as an old Benedictine monk. A wounded hind, pierced with an arrow, is his attribute.


GIOVANNI et PAOLO, SS. (26th June)

Two Roman brothers, who were martyred in the reign of Julian the Apostate. They were officers in the service of Constantia. Their ancient church, on the Coelian Hill at Rome, stands in the site of their house, and has existed since 499.


A wealthy Sienese merchant, who devoted himself to a life of complete poverty and abnegation, labouring for the conversion of souls. He founded the Order of the Gesuati, and died in 1367.

He is represented in Sienese art in white habit and leather girdle, or a white hood and grey habit.

Picture by Sano di Pietro in the Accademia at Siena.


Daughter of St. Lupo, Duke of Bergamo, and St. Adelaide, his wife. After the death of her husband she became a Christian, and converted her parents. When St. Alexander, one of the soldiers of the Theban Legion, was beheaded, she wrapped the head in a napkin, and buried his remains honourably. After her father's death she ruled over Bergamo with wisdom and benevolence, promoting the spread of Christianity, till her death, in 300 A.d.

She is represented in pictures by Bergamese artists, often with her parents, and carrying the head of St. Alexander.

GREGORY, ST. (12th March)

Was born at Rome in 540 A.d. He held high office as a lawyer there before he gave away all his possessions and took the Benedictine habit. He became very prominent in Rome, nursing the sick during the plague, and caring for the poor, and when Pelagius died he was made Pope, much against his will. He was renowned for his love of peace and his hatred of slavery and persecution. He insisted on the doctrine of Purgatory, and the celibacy of the clergy. He person-ally supervised the services of the Church, giving his name to the famous chants. It was said that his celebrated Homilies were dictated to him by the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, which sat on his shoulder. His extreme kindness and popularity gave rise to innumerable legends. When Pope he entertained twelve poor men at supper every night : one day he saw that a thirteenth was there who, when questioned, turned out to be a beggar, whom he had once befriended, in the form of an angel, or, some say, of CHRIST Himself. There is also a legend that once at Mass, in answer to his prayer, to convince some one who doubted the Real Presence, the Crucified CHRIST appeared on the altar, surrounded by the instruments of His Passion.

Another says that a consecrated cloth (Brandeum), which had wrapped the body of St. John the Baptist, flowed with blood when he cut it on the altar. By his prayers, the souls of many were released from torments—the case of the Emperor Trajan being particularly famous, and commemorated in literature and painting.

He is represented as a tall, dark man, generally as Pope, often with a dove at his ear or over his head, frequently with a book, his Homilies, in his hand.

Pictures by Andrea Sacchi, in the Vatican.


The friend and fellow-student of St. Basil, another Greek Father. He lived many years in austere penance, and was called into public life by his father, whom he succeeded as Bishop of Nazianzus in 362. He spent a great deal of his energy in Constantinople, preaching against the Arians ; and afterwards was made Bishop of Constantinople, but the bitter controversies there caused him to resign in disgust, and he lived in retirement, writing hymns and poems till his death, in 390.

He is usually represented with the other Greek Fathers, only distinguished by his name.

GUDULA, ST. (8th January)

The Patron Saint of the city of Brussels. According to legend she was a noble virgin, early consecrated to the service of GOD. Her life was specially holy. She was accustomed to rise in the night and worship at the Church of Morselle, some distance from the city, guiding her steps thither by a lantern. Satan frequently blew it out, but it was always rekindled at the prayer of the saint. She died about A.D. 712.

She is represented with a lantern ; some-times a demon is seen near.

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