21645201911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 9 — Eloi, Saint

ELOI [Eligius], SAINT (588–659), apostle of the Belgians and Frisians, was born at Cadillac, near Limoges, in 588. Having at an early age shown artistic talent he was placed by his parents with the master of the mint at Limoges, where he made rapid progress in goldsmith’s work. He became coiner to Clotaire II., king of the Franks, and treasurer to his successor Dagobert. Both kings entrusted him with important works, among which were the composition of the bas-reliefs which ornament the tomb of St Germain, bishop of Paris, and the execution (for Clotaire) of two chairs of gold, adorned with jewels, which at that time were reckoned chefs-d’œuvre. Though he was amassing great wealth, Eloi acquired a distaste for a worldly life, and resolved to become a priest. At first he retired to a monastery, but in 640 was raised to the bishopric of Noyon. He made frequent missionary excursions to the pagans of the Low Countries, and also founded a great many monasteries and churches. He died on the 1st of December 659. A mass of legend has gathered round the life of St Eloi, who as the patron saint of goldsmiths is still very popular.

His life was written by his friend and contemporary St Ouen (Audoenus); French translations of the Vita S. Eligii auctore Audoeno were published by L. de Montigny (Paris, 1626), by C. Barthélemy in Études hist., litt. et art. (ib. 1847), and by Parenty, with notes (2nd ed., ib. 1870). For bibliography see Potthast, Bibliotheca hist. med. aevi (Berlin, 1896), s.v. “Vita S. Eligii Noviomensis,” and Ulysse Chevalier, Rép. des sources hist., Bio-bibl. (Paris, 1894), s. “Eloi.”