Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born to Roman-Gallo parents around 590 near Limoges in France. His father was a metalsmith and Eligius, learning this craft from him, became extremely skillful in the trade. Eventually he was appointed master of the mint under King Clotaire II of Paris. Eligius developed a close friendship with the King and his reputation as an outstanding metalsmith became widespread.
Eligius took advantage of this royal favor to built several churches and a monastery at Solignac, obtain alms for the poor, and to ransom captive Romans, Gauls, Bretons, Moors, and especially Saxons, who were arriving daily at the slave market in Marseilles. His friend recalled him with love:
“He was tall with a rosy face. He had a pretty head of hair with curly locks. His hands were honest and his fingers long. He had the face of an angel and a prudent look. At first, he was used to wear gold and gems on his clothes, having belts composed of gold and gems and elegantly jeweled purses, linens covered with red metal and golden sacs hemmed with gold and all of the most precious fabrics including all of silk. But all of this was but fleeting ostentation from the beginning and beneath he wore a hairshirt next to his flesh and, as he proceeded to perfection, he gave the ornaments for the needs of the poor. Then you would see him, whom you had once seen gleaming with the weight of the gold and gems that covered him, go covered in the vilest clothing with a rope for a belt.”
In 629, Eligius was appointed Dagobert’s first counselor. Later, on a mission for Dagobert, he persuaded the Breton King Judicael to accept the authority of Dagobert.
Eligius then fulfilled his desire to serve God as a priest, and was ordained in 640. Later he was made bishop of Noyon and Tournai. His apostolic zeal led him to preach in Flanders, especially Antwerp, Ghent, and Courtai where he made many converts.
Eligius died on December 1, around 660, at Noyon. He is the patron of metalworkers. Several writings of Eligius have survived: a sermon in which he combats the pagan practices of his time, a homily on the Last Judgment, and a letter written in 645, in which he begs for the prayers of Bishop Desiderius of Cahors. There are fourteen other pseudepigraphical homilies that are no longer attributed to him.