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
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
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
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.