The name of Eligius, and those of his father Eucherius, and his mother Terrigia, show this saint to have been born not of French, but of Roman Gaulish extraction. He was born at Catelat, two leagues north of Limoges, about the year 588. His parents, who were very virtuous, and in good circumstances, brought him up from his infancy in the fear of God, and seeing him industrious, placed him with a goldsmith named Abbo, who was a considerable person, master of the mint at Limoges, and a devout servant of God. Eligius was a youth of uncommon genius and address, and, by his extraordinary application, arrived at an eminent skill in his profession. The qualities of his mind, and his steady virtue and religion, exceedingly enhanced his reputation, and endeared him to all who had the happiness of his acquaintance. His heart was full of sincerity, his whole conduct was under the regulation of an exact prudence, and his temper sweet and obliging: his discourse was agreeable, modest, and easy, and his attendance on religious duties most assiduous and edifying. He never failed assisting at the whole divine office in the church, and never lost an opportunity of attending to sermons or spiritual instructions. The oracles of the Holy Scriptures he carefully laid up in his memory, and made them the subject of his profound meditation, that they might sink deeply into his soul, and that he might apply them to his own use.
Eligius having some business which called him into France, that is, on this side the Loire, became known to Bobo, treasurer to Clotaire II. at Paris. This king, to whom Bobo had recommended him, gave the saint an order to make him a magnificent chair of state, adorned with gold and precious stones. Out of the materials the king furnished him, he made two such chairs or thrones, instead of one. The king admired the skill and honesty of the workman, and finding by his discourse that he was a man of great parts, and endowed with excellent understanding, gave him a great share in his confidence, took him into his household, and made him master of the mint. His name is still to be seen on several gold coins, struck at Paris in the reigns of Dagobert I. and his son Clovis II., as appears from Le Blanc”s History of Coins. His great credit at court hindered him not from attending his profession, and he was much delighted in making rich shrines for the relics of saints. The tombs of St. Martin at Tours, and of St. Dionysius near Paris, were sumptuously and curiously adorned by him. The shrines also of St. Quintin, SS. Crispin and Crispinian at Soissons, St. Lucian, St. Piat, St. Germanus of Paris, St. Severinus, and St. Genevieve were made by our saint. These employments were no impediments to his exercises of piety. Even while he was at work he had some good book open before him, on which he frequently cast an eye to instruct himself at the same time in the law of God, and to kindle a fresh flame of devotion in his affections. On the walls round his chambers were also placed pious books, particularly those of the Holy Scriptures, which he read for a considerable time after his hour of prayer and singing psalms. The corruption of a court never infected his soul, or impaired his virtue; such was his diligence in fencing his heart against it by the most powerful antidotes. He had not been long there, when he formed a resolution of entering upon a more devout and austere way of living, took a strict view of his whole life, made a general confession of all the actions of his youth to a priest, and imposed upon himself a severe penance. At first when he went to court, he conformed to the fashion, Yet even then, he privately wore a hair shirt: and after he had entered upon a stricter course of virtue, he gave all his ornaments to the poor, and became so negligent in his dress, that he often girded himself with a cord. The king, when he saw him in this habit would often give him his own clothes and sash; but the saint gave to the poor all that he received from the king”s bounty.
The liberality of his sovereign enabled him to bestow great sums in alms. If any stranger asked where he lived, he was answered; Go into such a street