Who Was Saint Eligius (A Patron Saint of Horses)?

Eligius also is venerated by metalworkers

St Eligius before King Clothar, ca 1360, by Taddeo Gaddi (ca 1300- 1366), 14th century
De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images

St. Eligius of Noyon is the patron saint of horses and people involved with horses, such as jockeys and veterinarians. He lived from 588 to 660 in the area that is now France and Belgium.

Eligius also is the patron saint of metalworkers, such as goldsmiths, and coin collectors. Eligius was a counselor to King Dagobert of France and was appointed the bishop of Noyon-Tournai after Dagobert died. He was driven to convert parts of rural France to Christianity.

In addition to horses, jockeys and metal workers, other craftspeople are part of Eligius' posse. These include electricians, computer scientists, mechanics, miners, security guards, gas station workers, taxi cab drivers, farmers, and servants.

Famous Miracles of St. Eligius

Eligius had the gift of prophecy and even was able to predict the date of his own death accurately. Eligius focused a lot of attention on helping poor and sick people, and many of those people reported that God worked through Eligius to meet their needs in ways that were sometimes miraculous.

A well-known miracle story involving Saint Eligius and a horse is likely little more than a bit of folklore. The legend has it that Eligius encountered a horse who was greatly upset when Eligius was trying to shoe him. Some versions of the story suggest Eligius believed the horse might have been possessed by a demon.

So, to avoid upsetting the horse any further, Eligius miraculously removed one of the horse's forelegs, put the horseshoe on that leg while it was off of the horse's body, and then miraculously reattached the leg to the horse.

Biography of St. Eligius

Eligius' parents recognized his creative talent for metalworking when he was young and sent him to serve as an apprentice to a goldsmith who ran the mint in their area. Later, he worked for the royal treasury mint of the French king Clotaire II and befriended other kings. His close ties to royalty gave him opportunities to help disenfranchised people, and he made the most of those opportunities by collecting charity money for the poor and setting as many slaves free as he could.

While he served King Dagobert, Eligius was considered a trusted and wise counselor. Other ambassadors to the king sought out Eligius' guidance, and he continued to his unique position and closeness to the royal set to help bring about positive changes for the poor

In 640, Eligius became a church bishop. He founded a monastery and a convent and built churches and a major basilica. Eligius served the poor and sick, traveled to preach the Gospel message to pagan people, and acted as a diplomat for some of the royal families whom he had befriended.

Death of St. Eligius

Eligius had asked that, after his death, his horse be given to a certain priest. But a bishop then took the horse away from the priest because he liked that particular horse and wanted it for himself. Reportedly, the horse became sick after the bishop took it, but then was miraculously healed immediately after the bishop returned the horse to the priest.

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Hopler, Whitney. "Who Was Saint Eligius (A Patron Saint of Horses)?" Learn Religions, Sep. 22, 2021, learnreligions.com/saint-eligius-patron-saint-of-horses-124327. Hopler, Whitney. (2021, September 22). Who Was Saint Eligius (A Patron Saint of Horses)? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/saint-eligius-patron-saint-of-horses-124327 Hopler, Whitney. "Who Was Saint Eligius (A Patron Saint of Horses)?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/saint-eligius-patron-saint-of-horses-124327 (accessed June 5, 2023).