Saint Eligius Bishop of Noyon (660) December 1st

Saint EligiusAs a child, his father recognized his skill in art and placed him as apprentice to a silversmith in the city. Within a few years he had no rival in the art of metalworking. It is said that his Christian piety recommended him more highly than his talents; his frankness, prudence, gentleness and charity were admired by all. He became a goldsmith at the royal mint, and in time became a trusted counselor of the King Chlothar II. Despite the honors and riches that surrounded him, Eligius came to despise all of them and gave away all his property except what he considered essential for everyday life. He devoted all his income to almsgiving and to ransoming prisoners of all nationalities from the slave markets. Eligius' compassion became so well-known that when visitors asked for directions to his house, they would be told 'Look for the house surrounded by a crowd of beggars. That is where Lord Eligius lives.' The Saint washed the feet of the poor who came to him, served them at his own table and fed himself on what they left. If he ran out of money, he would give away furniture or even his clothing. His friend described his appearance and character, “At first, he was used to wearing 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 hair-shirt 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." When King Chlothar died in 629, Eligius became the counselor of his successor King Dagobert I. He founded monasteries for men at Solignac and for women in Paris, telling the King 'These are the ladders by which we will both be able to climb up to the Kingdom of Heaven.' As a royal counselor he helped to re-establish peace between France and Brittany, and improved the law of the kingdom to make it more just. On the death of Acarius, Bishop of Noyon(642) in Flanders, Eligius was made his successor, with the unanimous proclamation of the local clergy and people. "So the unwilling goldsmith was tonsured and constituted guardian of the towns of Noyon and Ghent and Kortrijk of Flanders."His life as a bishop was the continuation of his good works. He possessed the gift of miracles; he cast out demons and cured the sick by a simple word or the touch of his hand. His diocese was still mostly pagan, and Eligius traveled untiringly to preach the Gospel of Christ, often at risk of his life. Having foreseen his approaching death, Saint Eligius reposed in peace on 1 December 660 and was buried at his cathedral in Noyon. When his tomb was opened a year later, his body was found incorrupt and gave forth a fragrant scent.

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