Eligius, sometimes known also as Eloi or Aloyisius, was born around 588 A.D. near Limoges, France. His parents, Eucherius and Terrigia, were Romans. Like his father, Eligius became a skilled metalsmith.

After his apprenticeship in Limoges ended, he moved to Paris. In Paris he soon came to the attention of King Clotaire II, who asked Eligius to make him a throne. With the materials provided, Eligius was so skillful and honest that he reportedly made two thrones instead of one. The King was so impressed that he made Eligius Master of the Mint.

As Eligius' reputation as a metalsmith continued to grow, he became quite wealthy. He gave away a lot of his money to the poor. He bought slaves for the sole purpose of setting them free. He also built several churches.

After Clotaire's death in 629, Eligius was appointed first counselor to Dagobert I, Clotaire's son and successor. Dagobert shared his father's trust in Eligius, and gave Eligius an estate in Limousin. Eligius used the estate to establish a monastery. Dagobert also gave Eligius a house in Paris, which Eligius converted into a nunnery to be presided over by Saint Aurea.

Eligius had been living under Irish monastic rule for some time, and when Dagobert died in 640 he entered the priesthood. His preaching won many converts, and eventually he became a bishop. Throughout his active pastoral life, he continued to practice his craft of metalsmithing.

The best-known legend about Eligius involves an ill-tempered horse (some sources say it was demonically possessed), which Eligius was trying to fit with shoes. Eligius detached the horse's legs, shod the hooves, and miraculously restored the legs to the horse. This technique was one he said he had been taught by Christ, who had performed it while disguised as an apprentice in Eligius' own workshop, in order to humble the proud blacksmith who had dared to claim that he was "master of all masters".

Eligius died on December 1, 660, at the age of 71, and his remains are in the Cathedral at Noyon. He is the patron saint of metalworkers, jewelers, farriers, numismatists, garage mechanics, and taxi drivers(!). He is also the namesake for the fictional hospital in the television show "St. Elsewhere." In Christian art, he is usually depicted in his episcopal regalia, with a crosier in his right hand and a miniature gold church on the open palm of his left hand. His feast day is December 1.


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