Brother Giles of Assisi was the first Franciscan to go as a missionary to the Muslims. He had become one of Francis's companions on 23 April 1208, joining soon after Bernard of Quintavalle. According to Thomas of Celano
[Giles] lived for a long time: he was holy, living justly and piously. He left us examples of perfect obedience, work, including work with his hands, solitary life and holy contemplation.
In 1209, when the number of brothers had increased to eight, Francis sent them out in pairs. Bernard and Giles journeyed to Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrimage site in Galicia in the north-west of the Iberian peninsula, where the apostle James, son of Zebedee and brother of John, was reputed to be buried. Santiago, as the Iberians called him, had become a rallying cry of the Christian warriors who since the eleventh century had fought in the Reconquest, the struggle to reconquer and christianise the peninsula from the northern mountains southwards.
According to the Shorter Life of Giles, he returned to Assisi from Santiago and then went to the shrine of St Michael on Monte Gargano and that of St Nicholas at Bari. Leo adds:
As [Giles] went about the world he urged men and women to fear and love the creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. One day, when he was thoroughly worn out and suffering from hunger, he slept by the roadside. He was awakened from sleep by the
favour of God, who does not abandon those whose hope is in him, and Giles found half a loaf at his head. Giving thanks to God he ate and was sustained.