(11 June 588 – 1 December 660 A.D.)
Eligius is a German name of Latin origin that means “To Choose”.
Once Eligius turned his life over to God, he brought many people to conversion.
At first, Eligius was more concerned about money and clothing than about God. He was born in France almost 600 years after Jesus’ birth and was educated as a goldsmith. From the precious, gold medal he crafted rings, jewelry, and even a king’s throne. Here is how his friend described Eligius: “He was tall with a rosy face. He had a pretty head of hair with curly locks. His hands were honest and his fingers long. He had the face of an angel and a prudent look. At first, he was used to wear gold and gems on his clothes, having belts composed of gold and gems and elegantly jeweled purses, linens covered with red metal and golden sacs hemmed with gold and all of the most precious fabrics including all of silk.” However, as he started to turn to God, Eligius began to question his fancy dress and started to wear a scratchy shirt made of hair under his elaborate clothing. This was a way of making his body feel uncomfortable and of offering up that discomfort as a prayer. He simplified his dress until he was wearing poor clothing with a rope for a belt. What did he do with his fine clothing? He gave it to the poor.
Weeping because he had lived so long for himself, Eligius promised to live for God. The king, recognizing his goodness and honesty, appointed him to posts of power where Eligius was able to give help to the poor and to ransom slaves. He founded monasteries and convents and lived like a monk. Respecting the dignity of the human body, Eligius had the king’s servants bury executed criminals instead of allowing their bodies to decay in open air. He restored one basilica, built another, and erected tombs to honor the relics of saints. He fought against simony which is the buying and selling of favors granted by the Church. Because of his faith, he was made bishop so he traveled through his new diocese, bringing to faith in Christ many who were unbelievers. He built even more monasteries and churches. When he died, many people had come to God because of him.
God is working in each of our lives. How much are we living for God and how much are we living for ourselves? We can’t take fancy clothes and money with us when we die. Only our sins and the good we do come with us. Eligius reminds us of that.