St. Giles Pilgrim Badge on sale at Museum

Press Release: 11/08/2005

Winchester City Council's Museum Service has commissioned a special Pilgrim's Badge of St. Giles, the original of which is displayed in the Medieval Gallery of the City Museum.

Cllr. Therese Evans, the City Council Portfolio Holder for Culture Heritage and Sport, said, "This is a beautiful replica of the original St. Giles Pilgrim badge. The artist has done a wonderful job in faithfully following the earlier badge in its style and design and I am sure the badge will be very popular with visitors wanting to purchase a unique gift".

Sher Kent, Visitor Services Manager for the City Council's Museums Service, said her thanks go to the Winchester Excavation Committee, who gave permission for the Museum Service to replicate the badge. "It really is an exquisite item," she added.

The pewter badge retails at £4.50 and can only be purchased in person at the City Museum, The Square, Winchester.

Pilgrim badges were in many ways the first mass-produced souvenirs and were sold as mementos to visitors at sites of pilgrimage.  The badges were a token or 'sign' the person had undertaken a pilgrimage. 

But who was St. Giles?  Legend tells us he was a 7th century hermit who had withdrawn to a remote cave and lived on the milk of a deer.  One day, according to the story, when pursued by the King's huntsmen, the animal took refuge with St. Giles, whose prayers caused bushes to spring up as an impenetrable barrier. 

The King released an arrow which wounded and crippled St. Giles instead of the deer.  In atonement the King founded a monastery and eventually persuaded St. Giles to become its first abbot.  His shrine, at St Gilles in Provence, became an important pilgrimage centre on the route for both Compostella and the Holy Land as well as in its own right

Patronage of St. Giles: beggars, blacksmiths, nursing mothers, cripples, lepers.