The "unwilling goldsmith"–St. Eligius of Noyon

Today is the feast day of St. Eligius of Noyon, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The man died in 660, and had been at that point a priest for 20 years. He had been a goldsmith prior to his ordination, and is sometimes refered to as the “unwilling goldsmith” because he did not want, at first, to serve the Church as a priest.

In some places on this day, horses are blessed–a tradition more common years and years ago, of course.

It came about because Eligius had been riding a particular horse for some time. The bishop at the time saw the horse and liked it so much that he took it.

Sadly, the horse was stabbed shortly after the exchange at the bishop’s residence. It was unable to be of use.

Eligius liked his horse so much that he had been praying for its return ever since he had given it to the bishop. And sure enough the bishop, stuck with a now sick and useless horse, gave it back to Eligius. Moments later the horse was back to full health.

So it is that St. Eligius of Noyon is the patron saint of horses–and plenty other modes of transportation.

That’s an interesting story, of course, but Eligius is most well remembered as a goldsmith and his devotion to the poor. He was indeed “uncorrupted by luxury”, as one book puts it. Few can make that claim.

During the corse of his life, he continually gave of himself for others. His craft had made him very wealthy but he shared most of his wealth with the less fortunate.

One stranger once came to Paris in search of Eligius. He asked someone where to find Eligius’ house. The stranger was told to go along a particular street and look for the house with a crowd of poor people on the property. That was his.

St. Eligius: Pray for us, for the wealthy, the poor, and all horses!