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

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Saint Eligius

A French tapestry of the famous story of Saint Eligius shoeing a horse by miraculously removing and then reattaching the horse's leg

Public domain

Name:

Saint Eligius of Noyon (called Saint Eligius for short or alternatively spelled Saint Eloy or Saint Eloi)

Lifetime:

588 to 660 in the area that is now France and Belgium

Feast Day:

December 1st

Patron Saint Of:

Horses, jockeys, veterinarians, craftspeople (of all trades), electricians, computer scientists, mechanics, miners, security guards, gas station workers, taxi cab drivers, farmers, servants, and coin collectors

Famous Miracles:

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

A famous miracle story involving Saint Eligius and a horse may have just been a legend. According to the story, Eligius encountered a horse who was greatly upset when Eligius was trying to shoe him. So, to avoid upsetting the horse any more, 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:

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.

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.

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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