SAINT GILLES: THE CHURCH, THE SAINTSant'Egidio
The church of Sant'Egidio presents itself in an understated protobarocco style , with a facade of a single order and bright colors and is part of the monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns, dedicated to Sant'Egidio. It was built in 1630, on a former chapel, mentioned for the first time in 1123. For centuries, the monastery was flourishing. The nuns were the founders of the nearby monastery of Regina Coeli, turned into prison after 1870. In 1873, a vast area of the monastery of Sant'Egidio was confiscated by the state . The permanent abandonment of the monastery, which was in poor condition, however, took place in 1972. Since 1973 the church, together with a portion of the ancient monastery, has become the center of the Community of Sant'Egidio which from it took its name. The church was restored in 1998 by the Community, in respect of the original elements. Since 1973, there was held the evening prayer of the Community open for anyone to attend. Since 1998, the evening prayer of the Community has moved to Santa Maria in Trastevere, for the large number of Romans participants and pilgrims.
The restoration of the church has left in their original place some large canvases, of value, with pictures of Carmelite history, as well as the grates that at various points created communication between the church and the cloister.
The Icon of Christ's face or Mandylion
On the central altar stands a great icon of 1600 from Russia, which depicts the Mandylion, the face of Christ, painted on a cloth held by two angels. It is the image of the face of Jesus "not drawn by human hands." The most ancient tradition of the Mandylion is that of the legend of Abgar, king of Edessa, who, being sick, sent a servant to Jesus for healing. Jesus would have impressed the features of his face on a cloth and delivered to the servant, as soon as the king came in contact with the cloth he was healed. The Mandylion enjoyed great veneration and was later taken to Constantinople; it disappeared during the invasion of the Fourth Crusade in the early thirteenth century.
Icon of Pentecost (right of the altar)
Modern work of icon painters of the Sant'Egidio Community which offers a particular image of the Christian community, with the traits of Byzantine iconography. The upper part depicts the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples gathered around the table with the bread and wine of the Eucharist. At the center, the empty seat of Jesus, ascended into heaven, blessing from above. Below, the preaching of Peter, which generates conversion (on the right) and at the same time is rejected (the left side). Below, the embrace of peace shows that from hearing the word of God are born reconciliation and fraternal life.
In front of the altar, in the center of the church, the seventeenth century icon, depicting the Madonna of Kiev with Saints Anthony and Theodosius, the monks of the Laura of the Caves in Kiev.
Suspended above the altar, the triptych of icons with the crucified and five mourners.
On the left side the "Christ of powerlessness", old wooden sculpture in Franciscan style, of a crucified without arms. It reminds the faithful who are called to be the industrious arms of Jesus.
In the chapel to the right of the nave, the altar of the poor who remembers the many who suffer. There is a collection of crosses, forming a "mountain of Crosses" from different countries of the world, under a large wooden crucifix.
In the chapel to the left is the canvas with Sant'Egidio abbot, by Pomarancio (Cristoforo Roncalli), 1610. Egidio was a hermit, a native of Greece, lived in France between the seventh and eighth centuries, who settled in a wooded area in the company of a doe, which provided him with the milk. The king of the Goths was going to hurt the deer, during a hunt, but the saint protected her with his hand. The king gave to Egidio land, on which he built a monastery where he became abbot. He was highly venerated in Europe, as a defender of the weak and the poor.
On the altar dedicated to the Saint there are numerous Bibles in different languages of the world