MANUEL, Niklaus
(b. ca. 1484, Bern, d. 1530, Bern)

St Eligius in the Workshop

Kunstmuseum, Bern

Eligius, who was born in Limousin, has become one of the most popular saints of the Christian west. He started life as a goldsmith whose talent led him to the court of the Merovingian king, Clotar II, who prompted him to be his "treasurer". Dagobert, who succeeded Clotar II in 629, took Eligius into service as his chief councilor and entrusted him with many missions, both diplomatic and governmental. At Dagobert's death, in 639, Eligius became a priest before being named bishop of Noyon. He spent the last twenty years of his life administering his see, one of the largest in the kingdom, devoting himself to the poor and freeing slaves.

Ancient tradition credits Eligius with extraordinary talent as a goldsmith, notably in making reliquaries, as well as with numerous miracles. He is the patron saints of goldsmiths and blacksmiths. In addition, he is the saint protector of the horse, and patron of all equestrian crafts.