Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church – Saint Eligius of Noyon

detail from the painting 'Saint Eligius, as a Goldsmith, Hands the Wedding Couple a Ring', by Petrus Christus, 1469, oil on wood, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkArticle

On this day the memory of Saint Eligius, Bishop of Noyon and Confessor, is commemorated. A man who by his virtue and holy living rose from being the apprentice of a goldsmith to the high dignity of a Bishop. Being a youth of rare genius he soon not only became an adept in his chosen craft but had gained a wide reputation for the beauty and ingenuity of his designs. What, however, was far better, he had won by his unostentatious purity and upright life the confidence and affection of all who knew him. Having been sent to France on some business, Bobo, then Treasurer of Clotaire II, King of Paris (584-628), heard of him and brought him to the notice of the king who gave him an order to design and make him a chair of State, to be decorated with gold and precious stones, placing at his disposal the needed materials. So great was the satisfaction of the king at the manner the young man executed this command that Eligius was retained in the employ of the court. His former master, besides being a goldsmith, held the position of “Master of the Mint” at Limoges, and thus Eligius had also gained a knowledge of coinage, of which the French made use; for coins bearing Eligius’ name issued during the reigns of Dagobert and Clovis II as appears from Le Blanc’s “History of Coins,” are yet extant. But his chief employment seems to have been the designing and building of shrines for the relics of saints and the tombs of Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Dionysius (Saint Dennis) are named as among those in the exceptionally long list credited to his wonderful skill as a designer and artisan. The favour of the king did not end here for he recognised in Eligius the higher traits of character which every one who came in contact with him did, also his great virtues, the purity of his life and his unbounded charity. Prosperous as he was his wealth was not lavished upon himself. The king often therefore, gave Eligius both clothing and money, which the latter in turn distributed to the poor, while at the same time he daily fed many of these from his own table even though he himself was fasting. He also was zealous in other good works, ransoming captives, providing for the sick and burying the dead of the poor, buying and freeing the slaves especially the Saxons who had been taken prisoners, and setting them free. One of these Saxons (afterward known as Saint Theau, whose festival occurs on January 7th) Eligius brought up in his own household. But I must cease details, even omitting mention of the religious houses he founded and endowed, until in 640 (some put this date 646) Eligius went to Rouen, abandoning the honours of court life, and with his friend Saint Owen received the episcopal office. Very soon after this our saint was chosen Bishop of Noyon, a district then still largely under pagan influence. With his usual zeal he threw his whole soul into his new work, and his success was equalled by few of his contemporaries, until on December 1st, in 658 the good man was called to his reward.

MLA Citation

  • H Pomeroy Brewster. “Saint Eligius of Noyon”. Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church, 1902. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 February 2019. Web. 16 October 2021. <>