By indexer
2 years ago

St Eligius

1st December is the saint’s day of Eligius, a 7th-century French goldsmith who became a bishop.

Eligius was the son of a goldsmith. He followed in his father’s trade and was apprenticed to the mint at Limoges before going to Paris, where he believed that his talents would be better appreciated. He came to the notice of the king’s treasurer and was given the post of treasurer at Marseilles, where, in time, he acquired considerable wealth.

However, what set him apart from other wealthy businessmen was that he used his wealth to help the poor whenever he could. He also became deeply religious.

He was offered land at Solignac (near Limoges) which he used for the joint purpose of founding a monastery and setting up a factory to produce Limoges enamels.

In 642 Eligius was made Bishop of Noyon and Tournai, a vast area covering north-east France and Flanders, a post which he held until his death on 1st December 660. He was very successful in making converts, and he also used a number of ex-slaves, whom he bought and then freed, as his assistants in his missionary work.

Not surprisingly, various legends grew up about this man who was greatly venerated during his lifetime and after his death. One of these is that he shod an unmanageable horse by cutting off its foreleg and then reattaching it after the hoof was shod. For this reason he is recognised as a patron saint of horses as well as goldsmiths and coin collectors.