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The Life of St. Eligius, 588-660

Vita S. Eligius, ed. Levison, MGH SS Mer. 4, 669-742
Translation and notes by Jo Ann McNamara []

The Life of Eligius, bishop and confessor, was written by Dado, bishop of Rouen (his friend and contemporary). Eligius lived from 588 to 660. Feast December 1. I have not been able to check whether the gaps were present in the original manuscripts or whether they represent the editor's decision to cut out material that he considers to be redundant or uninteresting.

Book I.

1. Eligius sprang from the villa of Chaptelat about six miles toward the western shore from the town of Limoges in Gaul, which joins the Britannic ocean in the space of about two hundred miles. Thus the city sits in Armorican parts, in ulterior Gaul and prima Aquitaine which looks to the western shore. On the east, it is bordered by the province of Lyon and Gallia Belgica and to the west and south it has the province of Narbonne which also border Ocean. In fact, Spain may be reached from the west. So Eligius was born and raised in that region from free parents of an ancient Christian line. His father was called Eucherius and his mother Terrigia. By grace of divine prescience, he received the name Eligius, a fitting mirror of his mind. And as a foretaste of what he would do, or indeed what God would do through him, it is fitting to tell what happened before he was born. For I should not omit the sign of his sanctity that was shown or the testimony of great men that I have heard.

2. For when the blessed man was still in his mother's womb, his genetrix had a vision ordained in this manner. She saw a splendid eagle wheeling above her bed crying out to her three times promising I don't know what. And when she awoke, terrified by the reverberating voice, she began to wonder much what the vision might mean. Meanwhile the hour of the birth approached and the mother was beginning to be endangered in the greatest pain. So they called a certain religious priest, a man of good repute, that he might pray for her. When he came to her, prophetic words soon seized him and he assured her: "Do not be afraid, mother, for the Lord has deigned to bestow a blessed birth upon you. He will be a holy man and chosen from all his people he will be called a great priest in the church of Christ."

3. So Eligius was born and nurtured in the true faith and imbued by his parents with the Catholic Christian religion. When he had passed the years of boyhood, he entered adolescence with industry and took up whatever work suitable to his age came to his hand and completed it with wonderful aptitude. When his father saw that his son was so skillful, he apprenticed him to an honorable man, Abbo, a proven goldsmith who at that time performed the public office of fiscal moneyer (fiscalis monetae) in the city of Limoges. Soon he was fully trained in the uses of this office and began to be honored with praises among the dwellers and neighbors in the lord. For he acted with dovelike simplicity, lest he bring pain to anyone and he had the wisdom of the serpent lest he fall into traps set by others. He was worthy both in having his skills and in his easy and pure speech. Often he entered into the meetings of the church giving gold to whomever was there reciting the sacred scripture which he longed eagerly to bury within the memory of his heart so that even when he was absent he might ruminate with intense meditations on what he had heard.

4. Afterwards some years went by until for some reason which I believe was guided by divine providence, he left his native land and his parents and went to the soil of the Franks. Only a few days passed before he came to the notice of a certain royal treasurer named Bobo, and honest and mild man, who committed him to his patronage and put him to work under his tuition. He strenuously employed himself at all work and won the love of everyone to whom he could speak.

5. After a while, a certain cause brought him to the notice of King Clothar of the Franks. For that king wanted a seat urbanely made with gold and gems but no one could be found in his palace who could do the work as he conceived it. But when the aforesaid royal treasurer had satisfied himself of Eligius's skill of Eligius, he began to investigate whether he might complete the work as it was planned. When he was wure that [Eligius] could easily undertake it, [Bobo] went to the prince and indicated to him that he had found an industrious artisan who was at his disposal for the work without delay. Then the king most readily gave him a great weight of gold which he in turn gave to Eligius. Having taken it, he began the work immediately and with diligence speedily completed it. And from that which he had taken for a single piece of work, he was able to make two. Incredibly, he could do it all from the same weight for he had accomplished the work commissioned from him without any fraud or mixture of siliquae, or any other fraudulence. Not claiming fragments bitten off by the file or using the devouring flame of the furnace for an excuse, but filling all faithfully with gems, he happily earned his happy reward. For having brought the completed piece to the palace he gave one seat to the king and kept the other back. The king began to marvel and praise such elegant work and ordered that the craftsman be paid in a manner worthy of his labor. Then Eligius produced the other in their midst: "I have made this piece," he said, "from the gold which I might have lost through negligence." The king was thunderstruck with even greater admiration and questioned the other workmen whether any of them could do the same from the original weight and accepted the answer he got from them acknowledging the sublime favor of his skill: "From this, you will believe in the utmost." And indeed this was the origin in the royal palace of honoring and believing the testimony of Eligius. From this of course, the goldsmith rose and his work was always most wonderfully done with the most learned skill, and he began to find increased favor in the king's eyes and the presence of his optimates. By the Lord's will, his faith was strengthened and, stimulated by the king, he grew to the better every day.

6. For some reason unknown to me, unless it were to obtain greater proof of his fidelity, one day at Rueil in the fields, in my presence, while I was living among the king's boys, the king ordered some relics of saints brought to Eligius and ordered that he place his hands upon the sacred tokens and take an oath. But moved by divine intuition, he humbly refused all attempted inducements. And when he was more urgently pressed, he soon burst into anxious tears fearing to offend the king but trembling sevenfold to impose his hands on the sacred tokens. Then the king, feeling his fear, and simultaneously marveling at the man's great devotion, desisted from forcing him but sent him away with a kinder and gentler manner. His face beaming, he declared him more worthy to be believed than if he had given his oath many times over.

7. When he reached the age of virility, desiring to show himself a vessel sanctified to God and fearing that some sin might stain his breast, he confessed his adolescent deeds to the priest. Imposing severe penances with mortifications on himself, he began to resist the flesh with the fires of the spirit in labors following the apostle, vigils, fasts, chastity, in much patience and unfeigned love. For he protected himself against the present ardors of the flesh with fires of future suffering and the memory of the ardors of Gehenna shut out lust. Day and night he begged God for heavenly gifts always considering this from he book of Job: "I pray the lord and place my speech to God who makes great and inscrutable miracles without number, who places the humble on high and raises the deserving." He would forego a sufficiency of bread so that he might gain heavenly bread. His fasts made him pale and his body withered with thirst but always his mind thirsted more sharply with love of the eternal fatherland and as that became heavier, he bore his sufferings more lightly. For always feeling the end of his present life, he trembled in fear of God's judgment, knowing the scripture: "Blessed is the man who is always afraid." And the apostle: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." And also that saying of Job: "For always I fear the flood of God swelling over me." He lay at night with his feet to the Lord, beating his breast with his hands, dripping tears, with sighs his eyes turned to heaven, always he looked about him fearing that he might have offended in some way and his tearful voice trembled: "To you alone I have sinned; have mercy on me from your great mercy." And that blessed Job: "Remember, for my life is as a wind" and "Spare me for my days are nothing." And when he went out he kept in his mind, "Eyes cannot see nor ears hear not the heart of man know what God prepares for those that love him." And the more he pursued these meditations the more he progressed. The more he humiliated himself, the humbler he became and so much more did he profit. As much as he sorrowed, so much he was forgiven and as much as he humbly afflicted himself, so much did he deserve to be raised on high by God. Oh profound benignity of God! He makes the pardon swifter than the offense. Oh happy penitence, that so swiftly attracts the mercy of Christ to itself. He barely ceased extinguishing the flames of crime with assiduous tears and excluding the virus of sins with frequent fasting than he received from the Lord the mercy that he asked. Indeed through the prophet Malachi the lord spoke of this: "I give and I fear, and he feared me and trembled before the face of my name." Here, therefore, is it written: "Fear of the lord drives out sin." and again, "Who fears the Lord, will tremble at nothing and will not shrink because his hope is in him."

8. Then calling on the Lord with a breast full of faith he asked that if his penitence were acceptable to God he might deign to give him a sign. Now, in the cubicle where he was accustomed to rest regularly he had tokens of many saints hanging from above and beneath that sacred covering he rested his head on a haircloth and spent the night in prayer. When as usual he lay prostrate in that place one night, praying on his haircloth, he was weighed down by descending sleep and dropped off for a moment and suddenly he saw someone standing before him who said: "Behold Eligius! Your prayers have been heard and the sign you asked for in the past will now be given to you." As soon as he heard this, he sensed a sweet odor, and the softest drops from the chrism of the reliquaries flowed smoothly upon his head. Exceedingly astonished by this, he swiftly arose and careful investigation disclosed chrism like balsam distilled on the blanket that covered him. And such a sweet fragrance spread from there that it filled the room so that he could scarcely remain there. And then, mindful of his petition, and exceedingly amazed by the generosity of God's bounty, loudly weeping, he blessed Christ the faithful rewarder, who never fails those who hope in him, from the bottom of his heart. For indeed his power began with almighty God to whom all things are possible. The holy man secretly confided in his comrade named Ouen, cognomen Dado, whom he loved as his own soul, exacting a promise that as long as he remained in this body he would tell no one. Hearing this, he immediately felt compunction in his heart and with the secret of these arcane [things] began to burn inside with love. Because of this he spurned secular blandishments and desired to emulate Eligius studiously to the good. And then they took Dado's brother Ado into their common counsel. These were men high among the optimates at court, the sons of Audechar. With common counsel they both began to imitate what they had learned from Eligius and he was their familiar consort and they had one heart and one soul in the Lord.

9. Therefore Eligius found grace in the presence of the Lord and in the presence of the king of the Franks. And he was held in such good repute by all that the king turned over to him a huge heap of gold and silver and gems without even weighing them. Day by day, he grew in honor with great favor and wholly tested in every respect he flourished, devout in the court. Meanwhile, Clothar died and Dagobert his son succeeded alone to the monarchy of the kingdom by whom Eligius was granted such familiarity that his happiness earned the hatred of many.


10. He grew more in vigils, in fasts, and in charity. For the king's use, he made many utensils from gold and gems. He sat fabricating in a mine opposite Thille, his vernaculus from the Saxon tribe who followed in his master's footsteps and led a venerable life. Sitting at the work, he propped open a book before his eyes so that even while laboring he might receive divine mandates. Thus he performed double offices, his hands to the uses of man and his mind bound to divine use. His fame spread abroad so that Roman, Italian, or Gothic legates or those sent from any other province to make an alliance or on another mission to the palace of the king of the Franks, would not go first to the King but would repair first to Eligius asking him either for food or seeking healthful counsel. Religious men and monks also flocked to him and whatever he could collect, he gave to them in alms or gave for the ransom of captives, for he had this work much at heart. Wherever he understood that slaves were to be sold he hastened with mercy and soon ransomed the captive. The sum of his captives redeemed rose from twenty and thirty to fifty and finally a hundred souls in one flock when they were brought in a ship, of both sexes and from different nations. He freed all alike, Romans, Gauls, Britons and Moors but particularly Saxons who were as numerous as sheep at that time, expelled from their own land and scattered everywhere. If it should happen that the number of people for sale outweighed his means, he gave more by stripping what he had on his own body from his belt and cloak to the food he needed and even his shoes so long as he could help the captives. And often it was pilgrims of Christ that he rescued. Oh, daily did he wish to be a debtor that his own debts might be forgiven? Daily did he not rip golden bracelets, jewelled purses and other gold and gems from himself so that he might succor the miserable? Let me briefly comprehend how many multitudes of captives over successive periods of time he freed from the harsh yoke of dominion and how much alms he distributed to people of both sexes, diverse churches and monasteries, though no orator, however studious or eloquent, could tell the tale. Standing directly in the presence of the king, redeemed captives threw the denarius before him and he gave them charters of liberty. To all of them he gave three choices: since they were now free, they could return to their own country and he would offer them what subsidy they required; if they wished to remain he would accommodate them willingly and include them not among his servants but as his brothers; and, if he could persuade them to embrace the venerable life of monks and take the cloister of a community, honoring those marked for the lord, he would supply clothing and whatever else was needed for their care. He had several vernaculos in his contubernio helping him with these needs. One was Bauderic, his countryman, who took care of his things with all honesty. Tituin of the Suevi tribe was a faithful lay cubicularius who achieved the highest reward when he was later killed. Buchin, converted from the gentiles, later lived at the community of FerriŠres. Andreas and Martin and John at his procurance deserved to come to the clergy. These and more others than I can count were in his chamber day and night striving to complete the solemn canonical course with all effort.

11. Mostly missing. Ends, but since I have seen the man why not depict his form?

12. 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. But all of this was but fleeting ostentation from the beginning and beneath he wore a hairshirt next to his flesh and, as he proceeded to perfection, he gave the ornaments for the needs of the poor. Then you would see him, whom you had once seen gleaming with the weight of the gold and gems that covered him, go covered in the vilest clothing with a rope for a belt. Sometimes the king himself would see him despoiled for love and devotion to Christ, tearing from himself what he had given him even to his clothing and his belt. For he said that the ornaments that served his appearance to the world were worthless and all that which was inglorious he gave up for the sake of Christ. While he was with the king he had a mansion carefully joined with Dado whom he loved as his own soul. From this, we could take many examples if we had enough time to repeat them. He had many tokens of saints hanging there in his cubicle and several holy books turning on an axis. Thus after exchanging psalmody and prayers, like a careful bee, he secreted the choicest from a variety of flowers from different readings in the beehive of his breast. At night, it was his custom to stretch out before his bed on a haircloth and either from the first twilight or after a little rest rising from bed to pray prostrate with his head bowed and passing many nights in tears keeping watch. For he had the great grace of tears. In various ways, he determined as far as human nature could permit, that every night would be consumed in the service of God. So he would pray at length interrupting the prayers for some relief, reciting the psalms in order and then turning to chanting or reading. And when he was struck by some sacred words, you would see him suddenly raise his eyes to the sky, joining sigh to sigh, mixing tears with the reading striking his breast and pouring out an ocean of weeping. And when during this reading he was weighed down by invading sleep, he would meditate on the words in a sort of dream. Then starting awake he would finish the reading and according to custom turn to prayer in which work he strove with so much silence never moving his head or any other part that you could barely hear the fleeting breath. Often, for various reasons, he was called to the king's chamber at night but even when one messenger followed another, he would not go until he had completed his service to Christ. Then leaving the house, he was armed with the sign of prayer and the cross. Returning home he prayed first thing. And thus he did every day of his life longing for his eternal homeland. For he was affable in every way and subtle, with pious heart and a spirit strong for battle.

13. When the king asked him to lead a legation to Breton lands, he hastened there without delay, secure in the love of Christ. And when he met the prince of the Bretons, he indicated reasons for making a pact and received pledges of peace. And when some might have intended a quarrel or to declare mutual war on them, his gentleness attracted the aforesaid prince with so much benignity and mildness that he was easily persuaded to go with him. For after he had remained there for some time he returned home taking with him the king and many soldiers of his tribe. Presenting them in the villa of Creil to the king of the Franks, he negotiated peacefully. He who brought many gifts returned home even more heavily rewarded. Para ends with a gap.

14. Indeed King Dagobert, swift, handsome and famous with no rival among any of the earlier kings of the Franks, loved him so much that he would often take himself out of the crowds of princes, optimates, dukes or bishops around him and seek private counsel from Eligius. And whatever Eligius requested, he would give without delay. Whatever he could gain, he expended in alms for the needy, ransom of captives and remedies for the weak, whence the prince rewarded him ever more freely because he knew that not one but many would profit by it.

15. Among other things, he acquired a villa in the neighborhood of Limoges called Solignac, saying: "May your serenity concede this place to me, lord King, so that here I may raise a ladder by which you and I may both succeed in climbing into heaven. As usual, the king freely granted his petition, agreed, and gave the order without delay that what he asked might be conceded. That was a time when a public census from the same region was exacted to be paid to the royal treasury. But when all the revenue collected together was ready to be brought to the king, the domesticus and monetarius wished to refine the gold by cooking in the furnace so that according to ritual only the reddest and purest metal would be brought into the king's presence. They did not know that it had been conceded as a reward to Eligius. Despite every strain and effort for three or four days, God hindered them so that they could not complete the work. At last, the arrival of a messenger from Eligius interrupted the work being done and asserted his ownership. As soon as the announcement was made, with the inhabitants rejoicing, the work was completed and his wealth committed. There in that place, first the most powerful man of God built a monastery. Then having constituted an abbot, he freed many of his vernaculis to the number of a hundred from different provinces and added fifty monks with enough land to support them abundantly. He lavished so much love and devotion on the place that whatever he had, whatever the king gave him, whatever he could buy, whatever he was paid in gratuities by the powerful, he sent to that place. There you would see loaded carts, vessels for every use of both copper and wood, vestments and lectuaries and linens and volumes of sacred scripture and all things needful for the use of a monastery in such profusion that it kindled the envy of many depraved great folk. He even thought that he would bind himself to that same monastery except that the dispensation of God obligated him to something else.

16. I saw, when I visited the place, such observance of the holy rule there that could hardly be matched in any other monastery in Gaul. For that large congregation is adorned with many different flowers of grace. And they had artifices by many skilled in different arts which were completed in fear of Christ and always prepared in obedience. For no one there claimed anything as their own but as we read in the acts of the apostles all things were all in common among them all. Such joy reigned in that fertile place that when anyone strolled among the orchards and the gardens flourishing with beauty, he knew the words to be completely fulfilled: "How good is your house Jacob, and how beautiful is your tent, Israel. Such shady woods and cedars above the waters like Paradise above the flood." Surely, of such was it said through Solomon: "the habitations of the just are blessed." That same community is undoubtedly about six miles from Limoges toward the southern shore. It is surrounded by a wall not just of stone but with a well-fortified ditch having the circumference of ten stadia. On one side it is strengthened by a river, guarded by a high mountain covered with trees and sheer cliffs. And they filled the whole area of the monastery with orchards of diverse fruit trees. And so the sluggish soul is refreshed and rejoiced to occupy itself with the amenities of paradise.

17. When he had completed that cenobium with all its works, and stabilized it with care, he thought to build a xenodochium in the city of Paris. But God inspired him to conceive a more excellent plan. He began to raise in his own house which he had received as a gift from the king in that same city, a domicile of virgins of Christ. After long and sweaty labor, he constructed a monastery worthy of holy virgins. There, constituting the strict discipline of the rule, he gathered thirty girls from diverse tribes, some from among his own ancillae and other more noble matrons of the Franks. He appointed an abbess fitting to God, a girl named Aurea, daughter of Maurinus and Quiria. He assigned land with high revenue and turned it over from all his property. From hither and thither you could see deliveries of everything necessary or useful for a monastery, vessels and vestments, sacred books and other ornaments. The most pious father provided whatever things appropriate to the sex might be needed with the most solicitous and diligent care. And when all the house was complete and furnished with everything necessary to it and made perfect, one vile but necessary thing still remained for the building of the domicile. He had not enough land, for it was all filled by the house, but there was a small piece from the fisc lying adjacent for the necessary work. Therefore, he ordered the land cleared, so he might learn its dimensions and hurried off to the prince, suggested the area and without delay obtained what he asked. And when he returned home, the lines drawn, and the size of the habitation considered, he found that it was a foot greater in size than he had told the king. He was sad, for he who never wished to lie to anyone had lied to the king. Leaving the work completely, he went back to court and sought out the prince, threw himself on the ground and accused himself of lying asking for pardon or for death. But when the king learned the insignificance of the cause he condoled with his injury more in amazement and soon turning to the multitude of bystanders and said: "behold how bright and venerable is the faith of Christ! My dukes and domestics rob me of spacious villas and the servant of Christ because of the faith that he has in the Lord will not bear to hide a palm's breadth of land from us." And he consoled Eligius so kindly that he doubled the gift he had given him. This story makes clear how the holy man feared to be guilty of a lie and soil his conscience with the meanest fib kept from the king. So his faith raised him to heaven and that fidelity made him dear to God and famous among men.

18. When the monastery was done and the edifice for handmaids of God complete, for which the profit of the labor is its own reward, then he built a basilica for the interment of the bodies of God's handmaids. It was dedicated to the holy apostle Paul. The roof covered with lead in sublime elegance and Abbot Quintilianus lay buried there. Then he built and restored the basilica in honor of St. Martial, bishop and confessor, at Limoges. He also covered that roof with lead in urbane stability. When he bore the saint's relics there, fully devout with great triumph and a great company of both sexes, a chorus psalling with melodies of psalms and sweet modulations of antiphons, the lord declared a miracle worthy of memory. Eligius was inspired to direct that the relics be taken a certain way when he could have gone more directly by another. But on that path there were four enclosed dungeons where three guards held seven men, either innocent or guilty. When Eligius passed, exulting and dancing before the ark with the relics like David of yore accompanied by the exultant voices of his flock, they came to the dungeon. Suddenly depressed by a heavy weight, the bearer of the relics was fixed to the ground. However much they pushed and pulled, he could not move a step which he confessed in a stentorian voice. And while the witnesses were marvelling at this, there came a sound like a thunderbolt from within the prison and the walls were burst with a great explosion from the ground. And immediately the prisoners appeared at the broken gate with all their bonds broken. Then the feet of the relic bearer lightened and they went on to the church with the former prisoners. And all who were there in amazement began to praise the new miracle and the joined merits of two saints, praise of Martial to declare the favor of Eligius. And all, seeing the fruits, praised Christ the Lord who does his work in his servants and raised their voices continually.


19 and 20 missing.

21. Even as religious monks frequently flocked to him, he was never satisfied but grew ever more thirsty with desire for holy conversation until he would hurry off to the cenobium of Luxueil which was at that time the most eminent and strict of all the monasteries in Gaul. For Gaul was not yet crowded with monasteries and those that were there were not under the regular discipline but fermented with the ancient malice of the world. Beyond Luxeuil, therefore, which alone is said to have held carefully the strictness of a rule, the monastery of Solignac stood first in the western lands. Many got a start there and were inspired by its example so that now there are many innumerable cenobia of both sexes throughout all Francia and Gaul under the nurturing regular discipline propitiating the divinity. Thus as I began to say, who can tell with what devotion and humility Eligius visited that monastery, going among the brothers? You would have seen him, when he first entered the monastery, face low to the ground, depressed from the light, his head inclined on a mound of earth. Then he would move with great gravity, his whole body bowed, among the brothers and prostrate himself on the earth before each monk. He listened most devoutly to all the benedictions and gave them copious alms while he took only the humblest crust of bread from them for benediction on leaving, which he took for the most generous reward. And every day while he could keep it unspoiled, he consumed eulogies from it fasting as for holy communion.


22-26 missing.

27. Another time, dressed as a layman, he took the road with his boys from the royal villa called Etr‚pagny. When he came to the vicus of Gamaches, entering the basilica there, he found a certain poor cripple lying before the entrance. When he saw Eligius, this man began to clamor asking for money from him or some other consolation. Then Eligius, strongly feeling the gift of the Holy Spirit seize him, said: "Let us pray together to the Lord to restore your health." Conducting him quickly into the church, he ordered him to stand, supported by prayer. Prostrating himself on the ground, he prayed for a long time. When he got up he saw the cripple still lying there and he lay down again to prayer pouring out his request with tears. So prolix were his prayers and so many tears did he shed that the whole pavement was moistened as they flooded, running to the ground like a river. At last, strengthened by faith, he arose and approached the invalid with great confidence and seized his hand saying: "In the name of our lord Jesus Christ, the son of God on high, rise and walk." As soon as he said the word, the invalid was healed by the Son of God and arose in health. Everyone there heard, with great wonder, the joints and nerves and and all his twisted bones crack and solidify. He was healed in that hour and walked carefully, blessing God with all alacrity. For he had been bound by the chains of paralysis for many years and thus the swiftness of his cure excited the greater wonder. The blessed man gave him alms and sent him away in peace. Adoring and glorifying God he returned to his place. Then Eligius began to conjure the boys and each of his companions sternly not to reveal these things to anyone while he remained in the body, for he greatly feared lest in the use of this power his mind should be oppressed by human praise.


30. One day while he was living in Paris, the custodian of the basilica of Saint Columba the virgin sped to him at dawn trembling and falling all over his feet. He announced that, in the silence of the night, the basilica had been robbed of all its ornaments. The news deeply depressed Eligius but he swiftly reverted to his usual source of hope. He kindly comforted the custodian and then hurried to that same oratory where he prayed with these words: "Listen, Saint Columba, to what I say. My Redeemer knows that unless you restore those stolen ornaments speedily to the tabernacle, I will have the entrance sown over with thorny plants so that veneration will never be offered to you again in this place." He said that and left. And behold! the following day, when the custodian rose in the morning, he found all restored as before, down to the tiniest curtain. And his joy matched his former distress as he sped again to Eligius and announced that everything had been returned. Seeing everything in its place, he praised the martyr and as always magnified the name of Christ the lord with growing hilarity.

31. Among the infinity of his other good works, he obtained license from the king that wherever he might find any human bodies executed by royal severity or judicial censure or from cases following any diverse arguments, whether in cities or villas, he might take them down from the gallows or the wheel or the noose and bury them. From among his companions, he appointed respelliones named Gallebodo and Vincent to whom he entrusted this care with their colleagues. Thus wherever they went whether in nearby towns or far away, they carried hoes with them so that they could immediately cover any corpse they found with earth. One day in the royal county of Austria, they came to a certain town called Stratoburg and outside the town on a height they saw a hanging man. The noose had taken his life on that very day. Going straight to the place, they removed the noose so that they might start the burial rites. But the venerable man felt power working. While the burial was being prepared, he approached the body and began to massage it gently from head to toe. When he felt the spirit to be present, denying the power that came from him, he said without delay: "Oh what a terrible crime, we have nearly perpetrated without the Lord's order! We nearly buried this body in the ground when the spirit is still within!" Saying this, he ordered the man covered with clothing and they waited. Refreshed in spirit, he arose from the ground having suffered no injury. When news of what had happened circulated in the town, hostile pursuers planned to seize him on the road and put him to death. But Eligius swiftly tore him from their hands and supplied royal letters of safe conduct for him and defended him. Not long after, he removed himself from his company, perhaps with Eligius' connivance. Lest the things he had done should spread among the people, he never appeared again among his servants. But enough about that. It is enough that what he did about this is known to God alone and not hidden whether he was in secular habit or under the venerable apostolic tonsure. Meanwhile, I will try to be brief in telling what he achieved with his handiwork. 32. Among other good works this same blessed man fabricated tombs for the relics of saints Germanus, Severin, Piaton, Quentin, Lucian, Genovefa, Columba, Maximian and Lolian, Julian and many more, with gold and silver and gems. But above all, by order of King Dagobert, he covered blessed Martin of Tours' sepulchre with wonderful work of gold and jewels and he urbanely composed the tomb of St. Briccio and another where the body of St. Martin had formerly lain. And he obtained great benefices from the king for that same church. At Eligius' request, and for reverence to the holy confessor Martin, King Dagobert forgave the whole census that was released to the royal tax gatherer from that church and confirmed it by a charter. Thus the church claimed the whole use of the fiscal cens from him so that in that town even today it is decreed through obliging episcopal letters. Above all, Eligius fabricated a mausoleum for the holy martyr Denis in the city of Paris with a wonderful marble ciborium over it marvelously decorated with gold and gems. He composed a crest [at the top of a tomb] and a magnificent frontal and surrounded the throne of the altar with golden axes in a circle. He placed golden apples there, round and jeweled. He made a pulpit and a gate of silver and a roof for the throne of the altar on silver axes. He made a covering in the place before the tomb and fabricated an outside altar at the feet of the holy martyr. So much industry did he lavish there, at the king's request, and poured out so much that scarcely a single ornament was left in Gaul and it is the greatest wonder of all to this very day.

33. At last, all these wonderful works were done and all the people about quieted, even the ferocious Gascons broken on their own hostile swords. Then the great and famous king Dagobert died and was buried in that same basilica of St. Denis under the arch in the right side. His son Clovis still juvenile in age, succeeded him to the kingdom. In his reign, the Roman Empire being headed by Constantine, a wicked heresy which originated in eastern lands began to pullulate. The heresiarchs began wickedly to violate ecclesiastical rule and wandered teaching and preaching untrue things. They asserted that our lord and savior Jesus Christ had least following the form of a slave and they jabbered in profane voices that he never assumed true flesh from the virgin Mary. These things troubled the church much and not only infected some folks in their homeland with the contagion of this pestiferous assertion but even some in Rome. At that time, the bishop was the most blessed pope Martin who carefully and manfully guarded against this, fighting many adversaries and sustaining many trials. Discerning that the emperor and many others were giving ear to these assertions, he was moved to gather a council of priests to restrain the case and destroy this depraved doctrine. In that council, with the consent of all the orthodox, he published a great and accurate declaration of faith against the heretics which he sent to Gaul with an attached letter ordering the king of France that if there were any learned Catholic men in his kingdom he should have them assigned to this work. Eligius would then have willingly joined with his companions except that at that time he was impeded by a certain circumstance.

34. Meanwhile, during the delay, the enemy of human kind, being sharply incited, struck powerfully against the walls of the church. Men were lost and turrets weakened with all sorts of attacks and he hoped to bring bishop Martin himself down with affliction. But though the unclean spirit struck with all his armed might, Martin resisted by the grace of Christ and stood, filled with virtue like an immobile rock amidst the flood, repelling the jabberers with a virile spirit. Imperial letters ordered him to make a proclamation against the faith of the fathers. But he, to whom that holy faith was venerable, denied that he could speak impious words against God, judging it wiser to lay down his temporal life that he might keep his conscience of faith unwounded. We know a certain brother from eastern parts who witnessed all these deeds that I now report in his own presence. Though he suffered many injuries, scourged for many days in the people's presence with his hands tied [behind] his back like a scapegoat, no persuasion could deflect Martin from the Catholic faith. With the whole city lamenting, he was finally driven into exile. After he was brought to Constantinople and relegated to exile there, he succeeded by his prayers alone in restoring the light to a blind man. Thus lingering in exile, after many torments, the noble life of this exalted and venerable man came to an end. Now the heretics might pretend as much as they liked but they were confounded and blushed that he had made himself a martyr. Although they clamored that his soul had been peacefully exhaled still he did not kill himself but they contrived their own defeat by his death, as pain will not consume him in whom pain was consumed. And if they were here now, they would hear from me these words for the martyr: "So," I say, "under the protection of Him Who was made flesh, he did not die by the sword, but relegated to exile for confessing the Catholic faith, after continuous and unwearying profession he earned the exit of a glorious death. And thus, having returned to his Lord, he was received as a martyr in the heavenly court. For his virtue and honor is no less than that conferred on the blessed martyrs seeing that he bore all that his adversaries inflicted on him with a stout heart. As Scripture attests, it is no lesser glory but rather more excellent to sustain martyrdom to keep the church from being torn by heresy than it is to be sacrificed for pulling down idols. For people endure persecution by the pagans for the sake of their own souls but suffer from heretics for the sake of the universal church. So I call him greater because without doubt he was proved more outstanding and excellent." These few words about so excellent a man have been inserted into the life of Eligius because Martin did so much to brighten the faith in the part of the world where he lived. And it suffices us to have narrated it for love of grace so that the memory of that special man who impended much good to my colleagues in Rome shall not be forgotten in the West although he was brought to the East.

35. While these things were happening in the city of Rome, a heretic from overseas struck a blow at the province of Gaul. He came to that city once called Aedua, now Auxerre, and began most fraudulently to preach nefarious dogma. And when this came to the ears of Eligius in the palace, vigilant as always, with Ouen and other Catholic men, he began to seek out every manifestation of this plague. He did not stop reminding the bishop and the optimates, and by his order the sacerdotal princes were gathered in a council at Orl‚ans. The aforesaid heretic was led before them and they questioned him about different things, knowing him to be learned, but could reach no conclusion. He answered their questions so craftily that just where he seemed to be absolutely straight, he opened up holes, slithering like an oily snake. And when no one could stop him or overcome him in any way, a most learned bishop named Falvius emerged among us by God's providence who was his match in everything and we rejoiced in his skill. Now all his previously hidden cunning and arts were revealed as dissimulation and his arguments were uncovered. Thus all the bishops imposed a sentence against him and sent a decree above his name to all the cities to eliminate the error to the ends of Gaul.

36. But when Eligius discovered another apostate disturbing the people of Paris, he energetically extirpated him from the city. Similarly, after long imprisonment, he ejected another man who circulated through villas and squares deceiving the populace by pretending to be a bishop from the boundaries of the kingdom of the Franks. And with great authority he pursued everyone else who attempted to subvert the people. For he hated all heretics, schismatics, and every figment beyond the Catholic doctrine and followed every trace of them with outrage. His eloquence flowed out and he was most subtle in the study of scripture, and when he had been sufficiently instructed, he went everywhere preaching with the evangelical cohorts to the people to hold unshakably to their faith in Christ and take care to protect themselves from every contagion of heresy.


40. But it would take far too long to recount every sign of his virtue and it is time to put an end to this part of the book. Words fail and words attenuate our aridity and we will succumb long before we have exhausted all there is to tell of Eligius. Indeed, I will never tell even a hundredth part of all the ornaments of good which are so precious that he earned as his heavenly reward. And we have only covered part of his life. For now the time came when he put off the dress of a layman and so we can impose an end on this part of the book before our audience sinks into boredom. The things which he accomplished in his episcopacy and the way in which he migrated from this world and the virtues he performed after his death, if the lord grants me life and power, I will explicate in another book. For we do not confide in ourselves but his merits, to take the work happily begun faithfully even to the end. If Christ deigns, he will intercede for us in heaven who earned his reward to work such miracles on earth through the same our lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns and lives through the cycle of the ages. Amen.

Here ends the first book of the life of St. Eligius Bishop and Confessor.

Eligius, Book II,

Propitiating the Lord, I left the work I began on the life of the blessed confessor Eligius imperfect, lifting my weary and exhausted pen in the middle of the path. Now somewhat refreshed in strength, with desiring vow, joyful heart, and charming pen, I will attempt to go on with the work I began. The road may be hard and deep but I will walk willingly and where my feet cannot take me, love will guide me and so I will go with devotion where words cannot enter. I accuse myself of being unworthy to pass the life of such a man on to posterity's memory with the skill due to his literary monument which should draw from the narrative of deeds the maximum edification for those who read. But he did so much that I simply cannot surpass the magnitude of good. The multitude of deeds forces me to omit so much that my soul thirsts in doubt while I try to decide what to keep and what to leave out. For if I tell all I wish to add, the days will run out while I am still telling and I will far exceed the limit. But on the other side if I include less, I fear the laughter of hypochritarum, who will say: "This man began a building and now he cannot finish it." I fear even more that I will offend the prelate, lest in struggling to expound his accomplishments within the limits set by the aridity of my eloquence, I will seem more to do him an injury than to reveal his life. So discreet on both sides, I concentrated the article to the membrane and what I rejected from the first book follows in this. So it was sufficient in the first book to reveal the things he did while in lay dress and now we will take up what he did as a bishop.

The Preface ends.

Here begins the second book

1. Eligius once served the eternal king of all princes, Christ, in the palace under secular habit. He remained in this way from the middle of Clothar's time as king of the Franks, through the whole time of the famous prince Dagobert and his son Clovis and even to the beginning of the reign of the junior Clothar. But in those days the simoniac heresy cruelly pullulated in the cities and even to the borders of the Frankish kingdom and most of the time the unhappy queen Brunhild violated the Catholic faith with this contagion even to the time of King Dagobert. The holy men Eligius and Ouen in common council with certain other Catholic men, warned the prince and his optimates that this death dealing virus must swiftly be eliminated from the body of Christ which is the universal church. Their pious petition had its effect and they freely obtained what they had requested devoutly. Thus a single counsel was pleasing to all, accepted in the Holy Spirit and by royal order, that no one who had paid a price should be admitted to sacerdotal offices, nor those who, like rapacious wolves, profited by putting the gifts of the Holy Spirit up for sale. But only men of good reputation and irreproachable life should be chosen for the pontifical offices.

2. And in that spirit they chose Eligius for the merits of his sanctity and good works, now radiating light, for the holy sacerdotal office. He was to preside over the church of Noyon after Acharius, the antistes of that town, had died in the turning of his years. And at the same time, they chose his comrade Ouen who is called Dado to preside over the church of Rouen. So the unwilling goldsmith was tonsured and constituted guardian of the towns or municipalities of Vermandois which include the metropolis, Tournai, which was once a royal city, and Noyon and Ghent and Courtrai of Flanders. They made him pastor in these places because the inhabitants were still caught in the errors of the gentiles. Given over to vain superstition, they were wild peasants who could in no way comprehend the word of salvation. But when the blessed man recognized that he could in no way escape the imposition of the office, he would not permit himself to be consecrated priest until he had run the normal course and time of the clericature. And so there was some delay before he and Ouen were ordained by Deodatus of Matiscon from the lands across the Loire. But by his counsel, in the same day, they earned equally the grace of articulated apostolic benediction. For it was the time when all the people of Gaul celebrate the rogations. Therefore gathering together in Rouen on the fourteenth day of the third month, in the third year of the reign of the younger Clovis, the Sunday before the litanies, among crowds of people and flocks of priests and psalling choirs of the consecrated, we had the grace to be made bishops by that bishop, I to Rouen and he to Noyon. And being thus made bishop he removed to his see where he presided with more dignity than I can narrate. There is no amount of words sufficient or no flowing abundance of prayers to pour out that can tell his goodness as it should be told. Can I go on?


3. With the care of a solicitous pastor, he cast his eye over the towns or municipia committed to him and their surroundings. But in Flanders and Antwerp, Frisians and Suevi and other barbarians coming from the seacoasts or distant lands not yet broken by the plow, received him with hostile spirits and averse minds. Yet a little later after he gradually began to insinuate the word of God among them by the grace of Christ, the greater part made truce and the barbarian people left their idols and converted, becoming subject to the true God and Christ. Thus like a light shining from heaven or the rays of the sun breaking through, he illuminated every barbarian land.

----lacuna including c. 4----

5. In the town of Noyon he built a monastery of handmaids of Christ where he introduced a great congregation and strict institution of life. And for that he designated an ample piece of land and all thigs that were necessary for such a monastery. And many other monasteries were likewise built by him and his disciples which are known today among the Gauls for many of his disciples now head churches and many rule healthfully over monasteries and many have been preferred to the episcopal regimen over the highest churches.

6. Among other miracles of his virtue it was conceded to that most holy man from the Lord that the bodies of holy martyrs, which had until then been hidden from the people through many ages, were brought to light when he investigated and searched with the great ardor of his faith. Some had formerly been venerated by people in places where they were not while being completely ignored in the places where they were certainly buried. But from the time that Eligius, consecrated bishop, was given as pastor to the churches, not a few were declared found by the people. Among them first and foremost the holy martyr Quentin was sought with great urgency in the beginning of his episcopate. He who had been hidden in the past advanced openly in public. When Eligius was first given to that place as bishop, a certain unprincipled man called Maurinus, who wore a religious habit in public, was cantor in the royal palace. Having won praise for telling the King's fortune, he became swell-headed. His heart shameless and his actions dissipated, deceived with the audacity of his presumption, he began to clamor that he would seek and find the body of the martyr Quentin for himself. But the Lord revealed his shamelessness and the merits of Eligius. As soon as he broke the earth with a hoe, the handle stuck to the digger's hands until the miserable man abandoned his presumptuous work. On the following day, he died miserably, his hands seething with worms. And after that, all the people were afraid and even men of respectable lives did not dare approach Eligius about this business. But as soon as he was ordained, Eligius began to search the place energetically. The saint had undoubtedly come from the town of Vermandois and had been buried on the mountain where the martyr was once raised from the flood by Eusebia. But Eligius, instigated by God's nod, considered this in his mind and openly proclaimed to the people that his body was not where they had been venerating him but rather in another place altogether. And when his mind had thus been stimulated for some time, he began to launch a probing investigation through the pavements of basilicas here and there trying to sense some sacred tomb. But when no sign of a tomb appeared, the brothers began to abandon him, fearing among themselves that such an investigation betokened a proud mind which would end in a sorry death. Moreover, they tried to turn his mind from the idea because the antiquity of the body and the length of time assured that it must be consumed and reduced to dust. But when he realized this opposition by his brothers, he cried to them loudly: "Oh brothers, don't, I beg you, don't impede my devotion. For I believe my Creator will not deign to defraud me of such a treasure when I long for it so much." And persisting he went on a three day fast praying loudly to Christ the Lord with tears and vowed that he would not take any food until he knew that he would deserve what he wanted.

His faith and his constancy were so great that he might overcome in this way just as he believed it had been done [before], that sometimes he could speak with God as to his earthly lord and that he would decree what he proposed and indubitably he believed that God would complete it. Whence when he was drained by so much, he said: "You lord Jesus, Who know all things before they happen, You know that, unless You show me a sign of this witness's body who suffered for Your name's sake, unworthy as I am, I will never act as bishop to these people but rather I will be an exile from this province and take myself away somewhere to die among the beasts." What more? Persisting in the work begun, he went with his helpers to diverse churches where they hoped to find something. In one such place, which no one had suspected, he ordered digging in the back of the church. But when they had opened a trench nearly ten feet deep, their hopes vanished. But as the middle of the third night flowed by, Eligius grabbed the hoe and, throwing off his cloak, began with all his strength to dig at the holy ground with his hands by the light of candles and lamps. And soon at the bottom of the ditch, to the side, he began to scratch at the earth and uncovered the wrapping of the holy body. Then filled with great joy, he opened the tomb with the hoe he held in his hand and a fragrant odor with a great light spread from it so that Eligius could barely sustain his strength in the power of that odor and that light. A globe of splendor proceeded from the tomb at the striking blow. It shed the strength of its brightness so much that it blinded the eyes of those who were standing around and changed night to day in the greater part of the region. Whence all who had kept watch in that hour gathered. Though ignorant of the cause, they knew they had been given a great sign from Heaven. For this happened in the middle of night and the night was dark and stormy but the spreading radiance was like the light of day and it shone for some time before it grew dim.

Having found the holy body, Eligius kissed it with tears of joy and raising it from the depths of the ground he divided the desired relics into eleven parts. As he extracted the teeth from the jaws, a drop of blood flowed out from the root of each tooth. He abstracted nails of wondrous magnitude which the persecutors had fixed into the body at the time of his passion from the head and other limbs and sequestrated them with the relics. He divided the hair and chose the most beautiful reliquaries to hold each one. And then he brought the body to the altar wrapped in the most precious silk and decently laid out. And he built a tomb wonderfully decorated with gold and gems. He widened the church to hold greater gatherings of people and decorated it. And then he distributed the relics which he had taken from the saint's body to many places where they healed many invalids praying for help.

7. After that, with much labor and urgency, he found the holy martyr Piaton in the territory of M‚lentois at the town of S‚clin and showed similarly enlarged nails from the body in proof to the people. Then he composed the body elegantly decked out as a martyr and fabricated an urbane mausoleum above it. And at Soissons, he wonderfully composed the holy martyred brothers Crispin and Crispinian, removed from a certain crypt, and decorated them with ornaments in sign of their memory. And at Belloacus he found and similarly fabricated and composed the blessed martyr Lucian a comrade of Saint Quentin. And now my tongue is insufficient to develop the tale of how much more he did so diligently in memory of the saints.

8. Beyond this he labored much in Flanders. He joined the struggle at Antwerp where he converted many erroneous Suevi; with apostolic authority. Protected by the shield of Christ, he destroyed many fanes. Wherever he found any sort of idolatry, he destroyed it at the foundation. And all the while he kept to the sober discipline of religious virtue, frequently assailed and often even provoked to contumely by an ingrate and perfidious people, he was at no point moved from his original teaching, but ever more gentle, patient, humble, and kindly himself, he prayed the Lord for them. Thus he scoured and composed the land around him smoothly with ineffable subtlety. With hope for the future, he solicitously put his faith in words softly studied enough to stimulate the idle minds of the barbarians and lift them to love of the eternal fatherland. He preached peace to the troubled, quiet to the violent, gentleness to the ferocious, teaching all to gather as one in the church, to build monasteries and to serve God sedulously with good works. Not a few barbarians were converted by this oratory, suddenly springing up as fecund crops and a fruitful harvest in a dry and barren field. You would see many people hurry to repent, give up their wealth to the poor, free their slaves and many other works of good in obedience to his precepts. Oh, how many gentiles did Eligius industriously pluck from error to join them to the venerable flock of Christ. How many followed his example, spurning the allurements of the world to embrace the blessed life of monks! How many maidens at his persuasion, refused carnal nuptials to be received into the bosom of mother church as worthy spouses of Christ! How large the flock of both sexes gathered in a single year that he cleansed with his own hands in the holy font in the paschal solemnity! How sweetly he lifted them out, men and women, old and young, drawing them manfully from the jaws of the enemy with assiduous and salubrious admonition, he converted so many to the way of salvation. And among so many infants, you would also see many decrepit in age with tremulous limbs, hoary heads, wrinkled faces, reborn in the sacred font under his hands and suddenly rejuvenated in their white garments. And you would see many hurrying to the purifying confession and, like a most learned physician, Eligius restored those who were wounded by the arrows of the enemy to health so that no scar remained on them and no crime of prior guilt attended them. But what further remains? Certainly it is clear and evident that he provoked many to imitate him through divine grace. Indeed, these were the virtues that shone most brightly in him: modesty with shame, wisdom with simplicity, severity with kindness, learning with humility, humility with rigor. And when he was most merciful with others, he was harshest with himself. Pious with others he was severe in his own abstinence; generous to all but miserly with himself. Among his colloquies, his holy words always resonated; solicitous for peace, careful for the health of the fatherland, he prayed the prince day and night for the quiet of the churches wherever they were and for peace, and calling upon his name in whom the strength of the spirit and magnificence of heavenly grace were in concord.


11. Once he had to go to a certain place in Provence. And one day he was travelling a road in that province with a certain noble of his comitatus and a certain unclean man met them, filled with a raging spirit. When he saw the holy man, struck with fear, frothing and turning pale, he said to him: "Why are you here, Eligius?" And turning to him, holy Eligius said: "And what [is that] to you, unclean devil? In the name of Jesus Christ shut up and get out of him." And immediately violently shaking the man, he left him. For fifteen years that vile spirit had occupied and tormented the man. But now he was swiftly restored to health and arose, whole from that hour forth.

12. So Eligius came to a villa called Ampuis which is situated on the banks of the Rhone and pertains to the estate of Erchenbert, an illustrious man. There was a woman there who had long been infested with a demon. Eligius entered into the basilica in that place to pray and when he finished and came out the women met him and began to cry out his name loudly and insolently. Then Eligius fixed his attention on her, knelt on the ground and prayed. Then he turned to her and said: "I adjure you, malign spirit, through God the almighty Father, and Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit Paraclete, that by their virtue you leave this vessel whom you have held captive." And immediately at his word, the spirit struck the woman to the ground and she seemed like the dead; then by the great power of the demon, blood from her very guts poured out the woman's mouth and he was poured out from her and fled from the face of the man of God. Then holy Eligius ordered the woman to be relieved and gave her a blessing with water and oil in a cup and when she had tasted it her spirit was rekindled and she was well without harm from that hour.

13. Now beyond all this I think, although it may be ignoble, that the blessed man had another experience on that same road. When he had completed the business for which he came and visited all his friends and bishops in Provence, Eligius prepared to pack all his things and leave for his own country from the house of Aspasius of the Iuvini family, a most illustrious Christian man. Last of all, he met with Bishop Aurelian of Uzes, who told him that amidst the bustling of the servants of both their houses one of his servants had suddenly lost a basket which he always kept with him to lead the pack-camel so that in the confusion he could keep him to the road. Then Eligius secretly called a man whom he knew to be the thief to him and ordered him saying: "Go to that nearby cliff. There among the thorns you will find what you seek bound with a thong and hidden. Cut it free and take what is yours and without any injury, without harsh words, return to the designated man the basket in which the bundle was tied." And when he had done that, the man was struck by such shame and amazement, that he prayed for pardon offering reparations to the offended man.


15. At that time, with the affection of piety and the solicitous care of a pastor, he came to visit his own paternal possessions in the city of Limoges. Hearing the holy fame of the monasteries constituted after his example in that same town, he greatly desired to cast his gaze on his own and particularly on all the institutions which imitated his own venerable monastery. When his company neared the city of Bourges, having directed each of his comrades on their way, he himself with a few others headed for the memorial of Sulpicius to adore the confessor. When he arrived there and had made his prayer, he heard that recently several persons condemned to death had been bound in the fiscal prison. They had killed a fiscal judge and therefore were held in chains. Eligius, mindful of the Lord's word, "I was in prison and you visited me," and "Whatever you do for one of the least of mine, you do for me," asked to be taken to them. But when he approached the prison guard, the soldiers rising soon obstructed him violently and would not permit him to come nearer. Sorrowful and indignant in spirit, he left and returned to the original road. When he came to his destination, he remained there for some time near the city of Limoges, and made the circuit of all the monasteries in the city and its suburbs, listening devoutly to all their benedictions. He visited his own monastery of brothers and placed a second abbot over them--for the first had been captured to the episcopate--showing paternal solicitude for each of them exhorting all to serve God in truth and simplicity of heart and daily come together in the better, to follow the accepted plan with all zeal even to the end. Then he went to the estate of his parents where his brother Alicius had built a monastery in his father's dwelling. There too he comforted the convent of brothers and then prepared to return to his own city. And when the road passed Bourges, he wished again to turn off at that city. His spirit moved since he had not been of any help before to those who were held there in prison and could not free them. Acting on this, therefore, he prayed on the road that the Lord would not suffer his labor on behalf of the prisoners to be consumed in vain. Therefore on the day he entered the city, at dawn, he raised his eyes to the heavens which were exceedingly darkened with storm and clouds so that the city-dwellers could barely see beyond a stone's throw. No sooner had Eligius entered the city than he approached the prison gates and, by God's nod, immediately with a great bang they were broken open, the hinges torn off, the gates yawned and all the chains were loosened from the men's feet. Then Eligius pretending that the power conceded to him had nothing to do with himself, went swiftly away to the prison; he gave the prisoners advice that as soon as they left the prison they should seek refuge in the church. And coming out they hurried straight to the church of St. Sulpicius and when they were all there they found the gates of the church barred. Though they searched high and low, they could find no way in until suddenly one of the largest windows in the front of the church burst and one of the side gates opened. They got into the basilica and hurried to the throne of the altar. So when Eligius came there in his circuit of all the places where he prayed, he found them all around the altar and before the sepulchre of the aforesaid primate. And when the soldiers found the prison emptied, they followed them to that place and entered the basilica, and attempted to lay hands on them and drag them into iron chains. Blessed Eligius spoke mildly to them saying: "Don't, I beg you, men of God, don't behave this way in a holy place. Why do you strain to slay those whom the pious Lord has freed? Wherefore do you act so impiously in the house of God? Why do you not fear the guilt of such wickedness? For this house is the house of life, not death. It is a refuge for the delinquent, not damnation for the refugee. This is the place of prayer, not a den of thieves." But when none of his words would move them, then he said, "The Lord God sees what you are doing. You, if you refuse to listen to me, must, I believe, hear him who never deserts those who trust him." So turning to his accustomed guide, he prostrated himself on the earth between the altar and the memorial of the confessor and prayed urgently to the Lord. And when he raised his head from prayer, immediately, the chains fell to the ground and all on whom they had been placed were instantly freed with a mighty blow. Seeing this, the soldiers were struck with fear and trembling threw themselves at the feet of Eligius praying for his pardon, saying: "We have sinned, lord father, we have done evil, we were stupid to try and contend with you. We admit that we have done wrong and pray you to overlook our impiety." And then he said to them: "and I realize that you have acted in ignorance. For the Lord works as he will. I pray that he who freed them give pardon to you and, propitiated, absolve you from all sin. For not I, as you suppose, but the holy Sulpicius defends those who flee to him." And in this way Eligius, or the Lord through Eligius, absolved criminals twice from dire danger of death. The pious one, the merciful one, who ripped Peter from raging Herod, putting his guards to sleep, now worked in Bourges with his servant Eligius. He who freed His vessel of election, Paul, from the chains of prison now emptied the prison to humble the arrogance of the proud. Therefore praise to him, glory to him through whom his servant can do such wonders in the world. So therefore, Eligius gave the freed criminals, who were practically naked, clothes and alms and ordered that in future they amend their lives as should many others as well, and that same day he distributed money to various paupers and monasteries. Then he resumed his original path and at last came to his own. Every day attending to people entrusted to him, he tirelessly worked for their salvation. Evidently burning with zeal for the truth, he wished to show the people that they should maintain fearless faith, ordering all to serve God in truth and do justice at all times and that they should be mindful of the benefices of Christ and bless his name every day of their lives. Collecting crowds from all around into the church, he offered them many great admonitions encompassed in sermons that were brief but rich in spiritual edification, exalting his voice with prophetic assurance.

16. I ask you dearest brothers and admonish you with great humility to command your intent spirit to listen to what I wish to suggest to you for your salvation.


Before all else, I denounce and contest, that you shall observe no sacrilegious pagan customs. For no cause or infirmity should you consult magicians, diviners, sorcerers or incantators, or presume to question them because any man who commits such evil will immediately lose the sacrament of baptism. Do not observe auguries or violent sneezing or pay attention to any little birds singing along the road. If you are distracted on the road or at any other work, make the sign of the cross and say your Sunday prayers with faith and devotion and nothing inimical can hurt you. No Christian should be concerned about which day he leaves home or which day he returns because God has made all days. No influence attaches to the first work of the day or the [phase of the] moon; nothing is ominous or ridiculous about the Calends of January. [Do not] make [figures of?] vetulas, little deer or iotticos or set tables at night or exchange New Years' gifts or supply superfluous drinks. No Christian believes impurity or sits in incantation, because the work is diabolic. No Christian on the feast of Saint John or the solemnity of any other saint performs solestitia [solstice rites?] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants. No Christian should presume to invoke the name of a demon, not Neptune or Orcus or Diana or Minerva or Geniscus or believe in these inept beings in any way. No one should observe Jove's day in idleness without holy festivities not in May or any other time, not days of larvae or mice or any day but Sunday. No Christian should make or render any devotion to the gods of the trivium, where three roads meet, to the fanes or the rocks, or springs or groves or corners. None should presume to hang any phylacteries from the neck of man nor beast, even if they are made by priests and it is said that they contain holy things and divine scripture because there is no remedy of Christ in these things but only the devil's poison. None should presume to make lustrations or incantations with herbs, or to pass cattle through a hollow tree or ditch because this is to consecrate them to the devil. No woman should presume to hang amber from her neck or call upon Minerva or other ill-starred beings in their weaving or dyeing but in all works give thanks only to Christ and confide in the power of his name with all your hearts. None should presume to shout when the moon is obscured, for by God's order eclipses happen at certain times. Nor should they fear the new moon or abandon work because of it. For God made the moon for this, to mark time and temper the darkness of night, not impede work nor make men mad as the foolish imagine, who believe lunatics are invaded by demons from the moon. None should call the sun or moon lord or swear by them because they are God's creatures and they serve the needs of men by God's order. No one should tell fate or fortune or horoscopes by them as those do who believe that a person must be what he was born to be. For God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth and dispenses wisdom to all as he disposed it before the constitution of the world. Above all, should any infirmity occur, do not seek incantators or diviners or sorcerers or magicians, do not use diabolic phylacteries through springs and groves or crossroads. But let the invalid confide solely in the mercy of God and take the body and blood of Christ with faith and devotion and ask the church faithfully for blessing and oil, with which he might anoint his body in the name of Christ and, according to the apostle, "the prayer of faith will save the infirm and the Lord will relieve him." And he will not only receive health for the body but for the soul and what the Lord promised in the Gospel will be fulfilled saying: "For whatever you shall ask, you will receive through believing prayer." Before everything, wherever you are, at home or on the road or at table, let no foul and lustful language drop from your mouth because the Lord announced in the Gospel: "For all the idle words which men speak while on earth, they will give account on the judgment day." Diabolical games and dancing or chants of the gentiles will be forbidden. No Christian will do them because he thus makes himself pagan. Nor is it right that diabolical canticles should proceed from a Christian mouth where the sacrament of Christ is placed, which it becomes always to praise God. Therefore, brothers, spurn all inventions of the enemy with all your heart and flee these sacrileges with all horror. Venerate no creature beyond God and his saints. Shun springs and arbors which they call sacred. You are forbidden to make the crook which they place on the crossroads and wherever you find one you should burn it with fire. For you must believe that you can be saved by no other art than the invocation and cross of Christ. For how will it be if groves where these miserable men make their devotions, are felled and the wood from them given to the furnace? See how foolish man is, to offer honor to insensible, dead trees and despise the precepts of God almighty. Do not believe that the sky or the stars or the earth or any creature should be adored beyond God for he created and disposes of them all. Heaven is high indeed, and the earth vast, and the sea immense and the stars beautiful but more immense and more beautiful by necessity is he who created them. For if the things seen are so incomprehensible, that is none of the variety of fruits of the earth, the beauty of flowers, the diversity of fruits, the types of animals, some on earth, some in water, some in the air, the prudence of bees, the breath of the wind, the dewy clouds and clashing thunder, the turning of the seasons, the alternation of days and nights, can be comprehended by the human mind. If all this is so, as we see, and we cannot comprehend them at any point, what should we think of those heavenly things which we cannot see? What of that artisan at whose nod all this was created and at whose will all is governed? Therefore, fear him, brothers, above all; adore him among all; love him over all; hold to his mercy and never despair of his clemency.


17. This summation of so many of the man's familiar admonitions must be enough to narrate. It does not represent anything he said in a particular day in order but is a digest of the precepts which he taught the people at all times. And at the end, he inferred saying: "For this, brothers, if you take care, you will have your reward.


But enough has been said about this. Now let us proceed as we proposed to his virtues.

18. There was a certain man dwelling in a suburb of Paris, doubtless staying at the basilica of blessed Peter prince of the apostles, whom Eligius loved familiarly for his faith and devotion, and who loved him in turn for reverence of his unique sanctity. One day, as Eligius circled the estates of his monastery, he passed through Gentilly on his way back to Paris. And he and his nobles were not far from his house when, as usual, he waylaid the company on the road, having spied them from a height, for he knew Eligius would be passing there. On meeting, he began to embrace his knees saying: "There is a drop of Falernian in a large jar at my house; turn, I beg you my Lord, for a moment into the house of your servant, that those who are with you may drink it down and the Lord my bless me at your coming." And when he wished to excuse himself he was conquered by the prayers of the company and at last turned to his house. Now the man had two or three vessels in his cellar which the vulgar call tuns holding about a metreta of wine each. So when he had entered he was asked to receive some by way of benediction and blessing the cup he drank from it to his satisfaction. And at the same time his companions drank very freely. Then, having blessed the house and saying farewell to the man, he left and turned to his monastery which was in the city. But as soon as he had gone, through the exuberant grace of divinity, the jar which had been emptied for the sake of his followers was filled to the brim. And another event that day: the man fortuitously entered into cellar found the tun which the day before stood nearly empty full even to the lip. Greatly astonished, he began to marvel and committing the merits of his guest to memory, he hurried to him telling him how much the lord had rewarded him for his entertainment. But when Eligius heard this, giving thanks to the Lord, he said to him: "Peace to you, brother, keep these words to yourself nor suffer to divulge them to anyone but go and give thanks that the lord has been generous to you [for having] expended necessaries in use.' And then he began to ask him if he would deign to rest at his house again and bless that liquor and take something from that same vessel. He swore that unless he would do so, he would never take a single drop of it. And seeing the man's devotion, he hurried to the house and at the entrance prostrated himself on the floor and poured out prayer. After the prayer he considered the full jar and ordered it to be opened and the wine in the vessel to be poured. And when it was done and he had tasted some and all who were with him had drunk heartily from the liquor, he raised his eyes and hands to the heavens and giving thanks and glorifying the name of the Lord returned on his road.

19. But neither do I think I should be silent about something which I trust would incite my readers and listeners to study humility because of his example, lest at some time rascals should presume recklessly to cast frivolous words against holy men when they should fear to succumb to a like disaster. One day an ill-starred man with a rash and lazy mind, a familiar of Ebroin, complained for many days against Eligius wishing with the greatest pertinacity to cut down the trees of his church and steal its property. For which reason, he frequently harassed him and finally provoked him to injury with his frivolous words; whence one day the man went to Eligius and began violently to repeat them to him in front of a great multitude. And when Eligius answered him mildly, he, with human boastfulness, put himself forward boldly, berating him further with many hostile words. Bearing this patiently, Eligius strove to calm him with soft words saying: "Friend, restrain your greed! Don't you blush to covet so blindly what belongs to others? If you asked me for what is my own, I might give you what you asked. But now you ask from me what is not mine but belongs to the church. I will not give you what is dedicated to the needs of the poor." Thus incited, he violently insulted him with harsh words saying: "If you won't give it to me willingly, I will take it, willy-nilly." At last, Eligius reacted and said with a menacing face: "My Creator knows, unless you desist immediately from this intention, you will receive the excommunication worthy of your deserts." No sooner did he hear the words than he broke out into raucous laughter, frivolously hurling many shameful and abusive insults. Then, seeing that nothing else would calm him, Eligius pointed at him with his right hand and inflicted the terrible bolt of excommunication upon him. Oh wondrous power of virtue! Immediately, divine indignation took the man at his word. He found all strength and vigor and every sign of life drained from him, falling on the floor even as Eligius spoke. He was so stricken by the Divinity all the bystanders thought he had died. And all who saw this were stupefied that the wrath of God repaid an injury to Eligius. So they carried away that miserable man and prepared him for a funeral. Meanwhile all who were there prayed the man of God to overlook that ill-starred frenzy and pray that, restored to health, the man might repent what he had done against him. Whether he did so or not, we are still uncertain. We will offer no more than this for [your] admiration: his word obtained from divine largesse the great power that threw the proud to earth and humiliated the arrogant without whips but only by the power of the word. How dear God held him to visit such swift revenge on a man simply at his word. But lest you think his words were his only power, listen to what else he did.

20. Once when the diocese was celebrating the natal day of the most blessed Peter the Apostle in the town of Noyon, Eligius went to the vicus and preached as was his constant custom, the word of God with skillful constancy, denouncing all demonic games and wicked leapings and all remnants of inane superstitions as things to be thoroughly abominated. Some of the leading people in that place bore his preaching most grudgingly, resenting that he would upset their feasts and weaken their customs, which they deemed legitimate. Chief among these depraved ones were the servants of Erchenwald who, as praepositus of the palace at the time, emulated Eligius but not to the good. They decreed together that, if Eligius should again attack their frivolities, they would kill him boldly. When Eligius learned of this, stimulated by the desire for martyrdom, he swiftly rose and ordered all his people that none should follow him but two priests and a deacon. So he went into the middle of a crowd of people and stood on a high place before the basilica where he began to preach urgently. Heatedly, he abjured the people that by turning their backs on his admonitions to salvation, they would be extremely threatened by diabolical phylacteries. Violently moved by this exhortation, the crowd answered him with shameful and impudent words, threatening him: "Never, Roman, however hard you try, shall you uproot our customs but we will attend our solemnities always and forever as we have done till now nor can any man forbid us our ancient and gratifying games." When he saw that he was getting nowhere and further games were being organized, he was moved with indignation and called forth to Lord Jesus from his heart, saying: "Lord, I seek your divine clemency. May you permit these, who dare to contradict your holy admonitions with such pride and audacity and prefer the seductions of demons to your precepts, be given an example of such ferocity and terror that they shall know whose work they are and your Holy Name shall be glorified by men who believe in you." As soon as he spoke these words, many people were suddenly possessed by unclean spirits, particularly Erchenwald's partisans who, despising divine mandates, had been prepared to raise their hands against him and they began to rave. The whole crowd except those who were with [Eligius] were filled with terror and began to lick his footsteps showing reverence lest they suffer the same fate, each one begging to be enrolled among his sincere followers. To them, the blessed man said: "Don't be afraid, but rather glorify the just judgment of God, seeing that it is worthy of respect that he draws those who seem to run against His will to face what they love that their preceptors may feel whose cult they serve. You too, if you obey the precepts of Christ willingly, should fear nothing because you will always be safe from these robbers." Many then prayed for those who were being harassed but he did not wish to pray for them immediately. Rather, he said: "Let it be, let it be; they must bear it; they must bear it; they must know whom they despised and whose orders they have obeyed until now." So when a year had passed and the anniversary of that festivity arrived, he ordered all the harassed to come to him. And when they were present, he prayed, exorcised some water, and gave it to them for a cure, freeing them immediately from the devil's traps. For there were more than fifty of them. Healing them in this way he corrected them and sent them home healed and punished.

21. Another time, when he was visiting his diocese following episcopal custom, he interdicted the course of the oblation being celebrated in a basilica for a particular reason. For there was a priest there suffering in bad conscience whom he excommunicated because of his guilt. He took the bishop's words lightly, not thinking that he had to obey the order. When he thought [Eligius] had gone far enough away from the place, he began to ring the bell at the usual hour as was his custom. Then confuting the human presumption, the creature more insensible than rational heeded the bishop's words imposing silence on it and not a sound emerged from his strenuous ringing of the bell. For a long time the priest pulled at the rope, until he realized that the bells would remain mute. Then he went out of the basilica, the cause being made clear at the same time. Then mindful of Eligius' excommunication, he hurried after him praying that he would reconcile the basilica. But although he was kind, he did not want to act hastily but first to have satisfaction that his sentence reflected. Thus a day and a night passed while the priest vainly tried to ring the bells and no sound attended his ringing. Then another night and day and still no ringing. A third day and night went by, still with no sound. But then nuncios came with letters from the optimates and seniors and at last their prayers overcame and the prelate was satisfied with the penitence and the place was reconciled with a single word from Eligius and soon, when the signal was touched, the bells were restored to their tintinnabulation.

22. Another day taking the road for necessary purposes, he came to a place not far from the royal estate at CompiŠgne. Weary from traveling, he turned into a certain colonus's field. There was an arbor of nut trees there, heavily laden with edible fruit. And when Eligius had rested a while, some of his servants went out and began to pick nuts from the trees for it was time for them to eat together. Rushing forward, the lord of the orchard loudly complained that his nuts were being stolen from him. Eligius called his men to him and softly and mildly soothed him saying: "Friend, don't be a nuisance to us because of this. If the boys took a little, there is much still remaining and I will give you money in satisfaction for anything that they have taken." But with swollen mind, spurning his mildness, he reviled him, taxing him closely with hard words. Thus Eligius with unruffled spirit, scolded his servants more harshly for what they had done and ordered them to give the man three gold pieces for the substance he had lost. Then, after the example of the Lord with the fig tree, he turned toward the orchard and ordered: "Since we were so attacked for you, nevermore till eternity shall you bear fruit." And, oh wonderful power of God, whose example was followed in this word, his virtue achieved the same effect. For after a little while the arbor dried up and remained permanently arid. So in this case he merited to follow the Lord's example, ordering the orchard with confidence, because he had put his whole faith in the Lord's words Who said, "He who believes in me, not only shall he do what I do but what is more it shall be done."



----- meanwhile Eligius flourished in such sincerity of mind, sedulously serving God with hymns and prayers. The most sublime virtues of the spirit flowered so that no one could be in his presence for long before he foretold their future about which I would be criminal not to tell a little.

27. Once a certain praepositus from Erckenwald's palace for some reason asked to travel to a town in his company. But considering the size of his group, he refused to accompany him. But the elders and abbots of his city pressed him to agree lest the man should use the excuse of the trip to take offense or become an enemy. At last, forced to answer them straightforwardly, he said: "What is the need, brothers, for us to get all upset about this? For unquestionably I know what none of you know, that if we hurry off there, we will suffer great injury. This man will get there in a hurry but he will not return alive but will die there." Indeed after several days his words were fulfilled for when they came in their own time to the said estate they learned that it had happened as he predicted. Then one night when everyone else was deep in sleep, Eligius happened to leave his tent and as he walked about before the vestibule, revolving I don't know what psalm internally, he suddenly saw a column of fire descend from heaven and violently penetrate Erckenwald's chamber. And silently considering the event within himself, he indicated the death of that beast to his deacon who was always with him at that time. Immediately struck with divine punishment, Erckenwald was afire with a sudden conflagration in his inmost bowels and straight off ordered that Eligius be called to him. When called, he came. Seeing him violently choking, he began to persuade him as he was about to die to do what he had not done willingly when he was alive, because faith had not been alive in him. Without delay, he must give the great sacks bursting with unrefined golden metal which traveled with him on horses to the poor for the refreshment of his soul. He added that nothing could be beneficial to him except to relinquish that treasure that had undoubtedly damaged his soul. But greedy as always, tenacious and avaricious, he kept dithering and in his long delay exhaled his spirit. Taking his corpse with him for mercy, Eligius brought him to burial and so the fulfillment of his prophecy was complete.

28. Similarly he foretold the death of a certain most cruel man, Flavadus, to his brothers. For that tyrant most wickedly killed a Christian man, Willibad, a patrician of Burgundy and his death was announced to Eligius. He responded in opposition to that narrative, saying: "You tell me that Willibad is dead and Flavadus is alive. But I tell you that I know that he whom you have killed now lives more happily in heaven for his great merits; and he whom you applaud as still living will soon be dead in all his evil ways." And he remained unmoved, openly predicting: "I tell you this, because that dead man was a worshipper of the true God during his life, now he lives happily without end. But Flavadus who seems to be living for a longer time, will pursue evil for but ten more days and then, as is fitting, he will die." And it happened just as he said it would. For in seven days Flavadus was struck down and soon was miserably dead following the sentence of the man of God.

29. And another time, when he was still in lay clothing, he made a wonderful prediction. One night when he had finished his accustomed prayers, he was resting a little in his chamber when suddenly he began to be violently agitated in sleep. Soon his clerk awakened and asked him the cause of the vision and heard this in response from him: "Just now, Simplicius, the bishop of Limoges, migrated from this world and behold, Felix, who has now become a priest, sends messengers to us that we may give support to his party. Now I spoke with them for my part. Be careful therefore for they are undoubtedly at hand." Having spoken, he rested and behold! when daylight appeared, they soon began to hear the messengers pounding on the door of the vestibule, as he had said. Entering there, they announced the death of the bishop and it all turned out to be as Eligius had foretold. They offered him a lot of money which Felix sent for support to the episcopate but they could in no way persuade him to accept anything from them. But soon he went to the prince and obtained what they asked gratis and so sent them back to their own place.-


31. And another time, Eligius visited his monastery in the territory of Limoges and on his way back stopped at Bourges where he wished to see a certain inclusus named Ebrigisilus whose good fame was then celebrated by everyone in the town. Keeping indiscreetly to the rigor of his own institutions, the inclusus would not allow Eligius even to see his face through a window and, as was his custom, answered his questions with his rude window closed. After a brief exchange of words, not asking to see him, Eligius bade him a last farewell, saying: "I cannot see you here, brother, in any way; but without doubt I will see you soon in the king's court at Clichy." And when he got no response, he continued: "Aye, aye, you will prove this on that day when I will see you there before the people and the princes in public." And indeed the words came true after a little while. For some reason, the inclusus was compelled to leave his enclosed cell and go to the king's palace where Eligius received him in honor. And once he was there, they had some honest and friendly talk between them and then he returned to his own place with this business successfully transacted.

32. He predicted many other things in the course of familiar speech such as when he foretold the death of the former king Charibert and it happened a little later and the death of the famous king Dagobert and the birth of Clothar junior. For when he was still in the womb and the queen was greatly afraid that she might have a daughter and the realm succumb because of it, Eligius came to her and reassured her. In the presence of the pregnant woman, he predicted a male birth to all and foretold her son from the mystery of regeneration. He then named the child in the womb and promised certain pieces of work that a child could use and had them made and ordered them to be kept against the birth. And all happened as he predicted which at last was attested by the king. For the queen brought forth a son and he was like a little son to Eligius. And the king called him by the name Chlotar which Eligius had bestowed upon him. After this, God multiplied his progeny and he sired two more sons. But in those days when the three procreated were still young and the king and queen remained peaceful and happy, Eligius predicted: "In a nocturnal vision, I saw the sun hurrying and shining brightly about the third hour of the day. Suddenly it disappeared into nowhere. And while I was still skillfully straining this formless prodigy, I looked there and behold, the moon sprang in the midst with three stars circling around, seemingly bound to that path where the returning sun turned daily. So I waited, astounded by this portent and soon before my wondering gaze, the moon was fortuitously removed leaving the stars remaining. After that, I earnestly watched the three stars until the noon hour came and their rays reflected one another in turn and one which seemed brighter than the others was unexpectedly withdrawn and the two openly poured out as much [light]. And then the same thing happened with the two: one of them was obscured or subtracted and only one remained in view which alone followed the path imitating the sun and shone with great brilliance and when it set in the west, great brightness was propagated on that side. And when at last it came to the final setting, so much brightness from its lamp was shed that it seemed to outshine the brightness of the sun. And this was therefore the order of the vision. After the death of King Clovis--for he soon will come to an end--this kingdom of the Franks will be left for some time to the queen and the three little boys. And after she will be removed from ruling, one of the three sons remaining will fall at last. And after no great time, one of the two will be deprived of the kingdom and the third will have the monarchy alone and will be magnified above all his affines and obtain the three kingdoms for his own. And so this vision will be consummated." Thus spoke Eligius. It remains for us to see whether these words will come true for they are now only partially completed. But we do not doubt that consideration of the preceding which has been fulfilled, points to fulfillment of the rest. For following his sentence, King Clovis died at peace within thirty days. Then his widowed queen with her boys obtained the reign for a few years. She was afterward removed by law and left the principate to her sons and, after a few years, the eldest born among them, who was seen to hold the most power, died one day after reigning peacefully and quietly and left his two surviving brothers. Now what will happen to them will only be decided by the judgment of God. Therefore this and similar other things which it would take too long to tell, were prophesied by Eligius.



But because through the changes of time, speech runs to an end and the pen moves toward his happy transit, it will be sufficient to describe some of the events of his life in order. For as I hope, though we produce words in a rustic style, whatever merits we are capable of narrating come from his virtues. So I think it worthy to record for the edification of the audience how he migrated from this life.


The Death of the holy and most blessed Eligius bishop and confessor.

34. In those days, after Eligius had borne all the burdens and labors of this world with equanimity, transacted all the administration of this temporary life, after so many works of mercy, after sweet examples, after freeing an innumerable flock of prisoners, after binding a copious multitude of monks and virgins to God in communities, after distributing an immense heap of his substance in alms, after the accumulated merits of dispensation of money to the believing faithful, he became elderly. Having passed seventy years of age full of good works, he felt his body approaching dissolution. One day he was walking with his disciples around the town of Noyon and by chance spied the basilica of St. M‚dard from a height. It was falling into ruin with crumbling and broken walls. Thus he ordered the workmen to be called to reinforce the weakness of the walls there with linen bandages. One of his disciples said, "We are waiting for an opportune time, lord, when it may be more easily and solidly fixed." And he answered, "Let it be this way, boy, seeing that if it is not fixed this way, it will not be corrected while I remain in my body." And at these words they shrank away and turned to sorrow, and began sighing together: "May it not happen, lord, that your servants see what you have said but may the lord permit your blessed presidency to flourish here for many more years as an ornament to his church and the poor." To this, directing supplicating eyes to the heavens, and drawing a long sigh from his breast, he said: "In this, is it not for our will but for the Lord's will to be done to me? For the condition of nature exacts that after the multiple pleasures of this life at last we shall approach pardon. But it comes to you and you cannot change the effect or oppose your will to the will of God in this, because beyond doubt the time is already fixed." And since all were sorrowful at these words, he said: "Don't be sad about all this boys, but be glad and rejoice with me because in the past I have desired this time, in the past after a long labor of life I have sought this harvest." Thus they were all cast into sorrow, nor was there much time for doubt to rule, after the conversation thus ended. For with little delay, his body began to sink beneath a fever. Then ever more certain that divine providence was bringing his death, he ordered all his servants and ministers to be gathered whom he had governing for a long, fleeting time. And he began to pass his last days publicly as he had always done, preaching to them always to keep peace with one another, considering themselves their brothers' keepers in charity, bound by the chains of love and unity. Then having summoned Baldred, abbot of the church of Tournai, he said to him: "I will not conceal something from you, brother, which I have certainly revealed before. I am making my way following the course of the fathers. I warn you against wanting to return to Tournai but rather be content to stay here with your brothers, living with them. For if you go there, ignoring my words, I know for certain that you will not return alive." And so it happened as he predicted after his death. For Baldred negligently disobeyed the warning. After the blessed man's death, he hastened to that town without hesitation and only a few days later, he was violently cut down and killed by a crowd rushing upon him. Now, as I began to say, when the blessed man lay in his last illness and his infirmity had continued for five or six days, he pretended that he could go on as always, walking about supported by a staff. Nor would he abandon the works of God, seeking good to the exhaustion of his strength, so that he retained even to the end what he had borne under the yoke through the long space of his life. All night long, with prayers and vigils he forced his weakening limbs to serve his spirit. Keeping in mind the memory of future bliss, he awaited the road to his desire with great joy. Meanwhile, on the Calends of December, when he felt the day of his completed salvation approaching, he gathered all his servants and disciples whom he was leaving as orphans, not in spirit but in body, and exhorted them:



----------------and this said, among these words he emitted his spirit. And suddenly at the first hour of the night a blinding brightness was seen, shining like a great beacon from that house and among the wondering watchers a fiery orb taking on the shape of the cross scattered the density of the clouds with its swift course to penetrate the heavens on high. So in this manner his holy soul was liberated from the pressure of the abject flesh which encased it and flew joyfully to its author. After long wandering here, to the rejoicing of heaven, the weeping of earth, and the applause of the angels, it arose at last rejoicing to [its] ancient estate. So all the love that the blessed man had among the people was clearly demonstrated in his death. Hardly had he exhaled his spirit and rendered the soul he owed to Christ than, as the messengers ran, weeping resounded through the whole town to heaven and all the streets were suddenly filled with noise and in the city everyone mourned this death as a common disaster. What more? When the composed body was carried to the church on its bier, as is customary, the people came for vigil, keeping watch in turns, the clergy with hymns and the people lamenting through the night.

37. So by dawn a multitude of both sexes had gathered in the town. Queen Balthild was there with her sons and a multitude of nobles who speedily entered the town and went to the funeral course, and broke into tears weeping and wailing that she had known him so little in life. And when she had wept for a long time lying with laments on his bier, she asked that preparations be made for her to carry the body of the blessed man to her monastery of Chelles. But when she tried to raise him nothing could prevail to move him from the spot and with sorrow she ordered that the church's triduum of fasts with psalling be celebrated. While that was done, she celebrrated that triduum in continuous vigil with her optimates and clerks persisting in their longing. When this was over, the venerable queen weeping uncontrollably, could in no way keep back her tears. And since she could in no way bear the absence of the holy man because of her excessive sorrow, at last, to satisfy her desire, she revealed his face kissing it sorrowfully and began to wet his hands and breast and drown his cheeks with a sea of tears. And behold! suddenly as she was stroking the holy body with kisses, a miracle occurred. For it was winter time and the corpse lay frozen until fortuitously a flood of blood flowed from this nose and began to moisten the holy one's cheeks. Seeing this, the bishops and the most Christian queen quickly placed a linen napkin there. Diligently, they collected the blood wherever it ran and the better to conserve the gift separated it into three pieces. Meanwhile, with the fast finished, the queen was determined, as we said, to move the body of the holy man to her monastery at Chelles. But others wanted to bring him to Paris and yet more insisted that the city of Noyon most justly deserved the legacy of her antistes' limbs. Thus altercation arose among them all with pious devotion alternating with holy rapine, about who most justly deserved the relics and the sepulchre. When the bishops and forestanders (praestantiores) who were of the queen's party prepared to bear him to her monastery a great roar and tumult rose among the whole people of Noyon. Then the queen, taking more prudent counsel and committing the cause to God said: "Now let these tortuous debates be discarded and we will test whether it is the Lord's will that this holy man be there where I desire. In that case, [the bier] may be raised without difficulty, or otherwise." And when she had spoken they went to the bier and attempted to raise it but felt so much weight depressing it that they could not move it from that spot. Then in turn others tried but none could prevail. Finally the queen, wishing to prove it for herself, stretched out and turned up her forearm and began to push trying to move a single corner of the bier. And when she had struck with all her strength radiating covetousness, [it was] like a giant mountain and she could accomplish nothing. Then turning to the optimates she said: "Behold! we must acknowledge that it is not his will that we take him away. Let us concede to this people what we still would not wish to accept." The counsel was acceptable and they all decreed with one voice that he should be buried in that city. And after that decision, when again they tried to lift the bier, they found it very light, carried easily by two people which before no number could move. What a miracle for the citizens! With the queen watching, they magnified the glory of the Lord saying: "Great and wonderful are your works, Lord" and "You are wonderful, God, in your saints."

38. So the corpse was brought to burial with all the city doing homage in tears. And the devout queen, though it was winter and very swampy, could in no way be persuaded that a vehicle and horses should be used but followed the bier on foot. With great labor, she went through the flood with continual lament with all his household. Oh how many tears of all, of monks and poor people, flowed together on that day echoing through all the streets. The chorus rendered psalms with sobbing voices, chants and weeping flocks resounded with sorrow through the air; all the people of the town quaked with tears and the highest peak of Olympus was filled with plangency. The rhythms of the antiphons rang in the choir and the sorrow of Noyon sounded in heaven. Every path gave forth the funeral chants, dire ululations filling every abode and the wailing of the people poured out over the entire globe. "AND THEY FILLED WAVES OF TEARS WITH GOLDEN VOICES." What pomp the extinct pastor emanated all around! What crowds brought the body to the tomb, here preceded by the chanting choir, there with the flocks of the people in continued wailing! They complained that they had lost their father and nurse and quaking with sobbing they could barely get out the words: "To whom, good pastor, will you commit the service of your people, or to whom will you entrust the pastoral care of your flock? Oh Eligius, you sweetener of the poor, strength of the weak, protector, comforter without peer! Who after you will give such great alms, who will be our protector, as you were, good pastor? Would it not be sweeter to die with you today than to live on without your presence?" In this way they proceeded to the grave, giving cries with all their voices mixed to the heavens so that it was not easy among so many tearful voices to separate the accents of the chant, the psalling of the clergy or the ululations of the people. For on that day who could be so heartless that, hearing the laments of the poor, he would not burst into tears himself? Or who could discern the vociferations of all the people and remain so merciless as not to begin roaring himself? Who had so iron and stolid a stomach that, when he saw the weeping queen with the princes, he would not immediately break down into lamenting? Who now could record with dry eyes how he was brought to the sepulchre with such ardor of desire, such movement of love, such impulse of sorrow? The bier was held back, drawn away by the people to the rear so that for a moment the corpse might remain in the open and they might satisfy their desire. For they kept causing all these delays to keep the body from being enclosed in the sepulchre because no one could bear his absence. But finally the strength of the people ebbed and as I have said, rapt from strong to stronger, it was released to the bishops who had advanced to the sepulchre. And so the stone opened and it was kept with great honor, and with all surrounding the tomb he lay in glory. Thus while the venerable queen with the people buried him the prelates adoring his limbs, she returned to her own fasting, her tears preventing her from taking food until she had fulfilled the three days of mourning.


This is enough for us to say about the death of the holy man. Otherwise we shall bore our readers. I had judged that, with the end of his life, our words should also end but the unwearying Lord did so many miracles through the holy body that I am impelled to go on talking. Therefore I shall take the opportunity to extend the reading and show some in this present book.

39. After the blessed man migrated from this world and his body was brought to the sepulchre, there happened to remain in the place where he had lain a gross garment of goat's hair from the bishop which evidently should have had a place of honor on the bier. When everyone went out, a deacon named Uffo, Suevi by race, pushed by his aroused greed, secretly stole it and hid in his bed under the covers. When the body was brought to the sepulchre, as is the tradition, and the ministers had rendered the services and realized that it was missing, they were horrified and began to seek it everywhere. Hurrying here and there, searching for a long time, they found no sign of what they had lost and unheard of disturbances arose among the servants because of it. But when night came and sleep advanced, they all went to bed as usual. Suddenly the holy man appeared in a vision to a certain abbot named Sparvus, and with soft speech told him where the thief had hidden the stolen item. When daylight returned to earth the next day, Sparvus called two trustworthy brothers to him and exposed the order of his vision. Rising, they hastened to the place and when they had searched diligently they immediately found the stolen item where the holy man had indicated. And soon they scolded the deacon with harsh words but did not punish him with whips because they followed the orders of saint Eligius. But from this event, to the day of his death, he began to fear and venerate him greatly which they showed from day to day.


41. A little while after his death, the blessed man appeared in a shining costume in a night vision to a certain person living in the royal palace whom he ordered to go without delay to Queen Balthild and warn her that in reverence for Christ she should not regret removing the insignia ornamented with gold and gems which she still used in her dress. When his order was not carried out, he appeared again and on the second night made the same warning. But when the recipient still shrank from relating the vision to the queen, he appeared a third time with very threatening manner and ordered him to go to the queen or he would be sorry. And the next day he was felled by fever. The queen came to visit the sick man and asked the cause of his illness. Then, with the opportunity presented, the invalid opened his secret heart and gave the queen the indicated order and told her the whole content of the visions. Without delay as he told the tale, the fever receded and he was restored to health. And the queen, never doubting the admonitions of the confessor, immediately stripped the ornaments from herself keeping nothing except gold bracelets. And all were dispersed in alms being stronger in the work of the cross. And she ordered that those which appeared to have the most elegance should be used to steady the head of saint Eligius. Moreover, she ordered a golden cover to be fabricated which should be placed above the limbs of the confessor. In this work a great weight of gold and gems in pins and different things were used which are hardly worth the many words to enumerate.

42. All this being done, it was the custom that during Lent the splendor of the gold and brightness of gems on the tomb should be veiled with linen urbanely embroidered with silk. So they entered as Lent began and hid the radiant weight of the metal during the penitential days. But several days later, while many people were standing around the tomb, an unheard of miracle occurred. For suddenly the linen which wrapped the tomb began to sweat and then it smoked and it was drenched in a flood of dew. And the bystanders were overwhelmed with awe and waited to see what the generosity of Christ would produce. When they saw the linen was soaked, it occurred to the highest of the council of elders that if they took it from the tomb and collected the liquid in a vessel, some of it might be saved as a medicine and so it was done. And soon bearing [the linen] from the precincts they wrung the liquid into a copper vessel and from it many sick people who were there were healed. And so abundant was this sweat that even the urbane embroidery was colored and from the excessive infusion of dew gave up its color and faded into the linen. So I perceive this to be like to the work of Gideon. For he received a sign of dew in the wool of the sheep which was infused. Here a great infusion of divine virtue was conferred for the cure of the sick. There the dew from the sheep filled a conch shell and here the linen acted as a conch with holy liquor extracted to the measure of two sextares.

43. At that time, a terrible plague devastated many of the cities of Frankland. We thought that the liquor might be a cure from a watchful divinity so that if an invalid who appeared to be in danger of death could obtain that medicine soon, he might healed with all evil repelled. At that period, there was a certain count of the city of Th‚rouanne named Ingomar, an exceptionally rich and powerful man. Greatly fearing the devastating plague all around and hearing about the miracles done, he gave Eligius the first place in his deepest heart. And from the greatest faith he asked to be given some of the liquor, pledging and vowing that if that same antistes should persuade the Lord not to allow that raging sickness to penetrate his estates, he would delegate him a tenth of all he had on hand on that day and give a major farm to his church. So going to his estates, he had all of the inhabitants called and with vows and devotion to touch the liquor. And so it happened that as the plague raged all around the province, none of them who pertained to him sensed the least discomfort. After this the rejoicing man separated a tenth of everything from his preserved subjects and, as he had pledged, conferred it with thanks and devotion on the church of Saint Eligius. Indeed so copious was that tenth that a tenth part of the whole became a hundred souls to the part of blessed Eligius, and still [there were] a great many as well as cattle.


47. When the blessed man was still alive he kept one horse, who was gentler than most, which he rode when necessity demanded it. After his death, the horse came into the possession of the abbot who presided over the same basilica. Mummolenus the greedy bishop of that same place, violently took it from that apostolic man and vindicated his right. The abbot not daring to try to obtain it, hastened to Saint Eligius with much weeping and commended the cause to him. So when the aforesaid horse was led into the bishop's possession, he began to have a sickness of the feet and his whole body withering, wasted into decay. Then the bishop got a mule doctor and ordered him to make an effort to cure him. But although he tried hard, he could make no progress. Indeed whenever he approached, it became like a wild beast roaring and kicking, seeking to kill its healer. And when for several days he had tried and could in no way improve things, at last the bishop saw that if the remained in this condition he should lose him totally. So he offered him as a gift of thanks to a certain matron whom he loved. She took him and diligently strove for a cure. One day she took the road riding on his back and he began to rage kicking and bellowing and threw her heavily to earth so badly hurt that for a year she shook with fever. When it was clear to that woman that she was violently sick, she sent back to the bishop who had given her the horse reproaching him that he sent her exacerbation for a gift and thank you. Having gotten him back the bishop ordered that he be cared for but all his diligence was consumed in vain and the more care he was given the worse he got. Then a certain religious priest saw how things were and advised the bishop that since nothing about the horse could profit him he should return him to the abbot from whom he had unjustly taken him. And when it was done following this advice, after a few days the horse was healed and regained his gentleness and remained well behaved in every way in the abbot's hands.

48. With all this happening while the bishop was buried at the side of the altar, it seemed to the bishop as well as to the queen and her council that with a vault built above the altar, they should make a fitting translation of his body. And when the idea had been conceived, they went there and disposed themselves properly. Suddenly, a threatening crack appeared in the wall around the window like an arch in the rotunda so that it seemed to be made liquid. At God's nod, they saw that the crack clearly outlined what they intended and that they should break through the broken place. Everyone seeing this with great wonder, understood it was the will of the Savior for the merits of the antistes. So they acted with confidence to pierce the walls in that place so that the work could be perfected. Spontaneously, without their labor, the break opened so that no person or the tomb itself which lay nearby was in any way hurt in the falling ruin. So with the antistes himself presiding, the determined work went forward and they constructed a mausoleum worthy of the blessed confessor. Meanwhile as the day of his deposition approached the citizens prepared for his anniversary to make a translation honorific in every way. The queen prepared vestments all embroidered with the most precious silks so that on the day of transmigration he would be extracted from the humble garments and dressed in those prepared anew. And when the day of his deposition came, a great multitude of people gathered in the town. Then all the clerks of the canonry with voices celebrating the melody, and all Christians assisting, the confessor's limbs were raised from the tomb carefully. And just as he was raised from the open tomb, a great miracle was seen by all the bystanders. For when the holy body was uncovered a wonderful aroma wafted forth. And it was seen that he was solid and uncorrupted with no diminution of his limbs so that he seemed to be alive in the tomb and what is still more wonderful his beard and hair which had been shaved according to custom had grown in the tomb so that everyone was stupefied by the miraculous thing. Then the trembling bishop raised him from the tomb and changed all his clothing for the wonderful vestments which the queen had prepared. Then he was recovered and deposed again with great care under a seal. And all the time the chorus was psalling and cymbals clashing and the sweet tones of the organ made modulations as the holy man was moved from the place where he had lain and deposed with the greatest care and in the urbane sepulchre prepared for him composed as was proper conserving eternal memory and ever more honored each day. And after this miracles multiplied which you may hear if you open your ears.


50. Among other miracles which were worked there with divine grace, the light which hung at the head of the holy man was half empty one day when a sudden inundation filled it and it suddenly gave forth a divine light and burned the whole and overflowed. And the Lord demonstrated the merits of the blessed man by a miracle using that same light. For while he was still in his body, a certain count of Vermandois named Garifred had offended against him and when blessed Eligius migrated from the body he had not yet made atonement among his men. After a long interval, negligently forgetting that atonement, he came at last to adore at the holy sepulchre, where the light was burning as usual at the confessor's head. When he crossed the threshold, the light suddenly went out of the candelabrum. Along with his companions, he prayed, trembling and pale. And when they were leaving the church after the prayer, the divine light immediately returned, and the candles put forth their usual brilliance. Just as the man was about to mount his horse, one of his servants who was left behind in the basilica told him the whole thing in order as he had witnessed it. As he listened, sorrow moved him and his secret conscience began to whisper that he was guilty which had been shown by this portent. And when he deprehended his guilt, remembering what he owed to the holy man he returned immediately and went back to the basilica. As soon as he set foot on the floor, the light was put out of the candelabrum and it was seen to hang extinguished. Then seeing it publicly, he was seized with fear and prostrated himself with laments and great groaning before the holy sepulchre. Atoning for his long guilt he began to shed tears for his crime, calling himself a unworthy and unhappy one because of whose fault the candelabrum in this sacred place hung extinguished. And when he had remained there for a long time weeping and wailing, he proclaimed in a loud voice that he would die there if the lamp were not rekindled. At last, his satisfaction was accepted and the Divinity restored the light of the candelabrum which it had removed. Then he, ever so little refreshed, swiftly ordered his servant to bring immediately a vessel filled with silver which he took and offered as a gift of peace to the confessor of Christ. He laid it near his tomb promising to confer not a few of his belongings on the basilica, as much as the guilt just now ended that he had admitted to the holy man. So at last adoring and glorifying the power of the Savior, with the light shining brightly from the candelabrum, he left that place joyously.


52. Something wonderful succeeded all these wonders. For a certain woman mute and blind was once an oblate at the sepulchre of Eligius. One day when she awaited remedy from heaven, bereft and without speech, sleep at last depressed her and a dream claimed her limbs. And behold! suddenly while she rested she had a vision of holy Eligius standing before her and sweetly touching her eyes. Gesturing like a doctor with knife and shears, he gently cut the bonds on her tongue. And from this she was immediately cured, her eyes open and her freed tongue forming words. And after this, restored to health, she arose and went back to her own village.


----Among other things I cannot be silent about what he did in a time of mortality in Paris.

54. It happened when an evil calamity depopulated the city of Paris, not a few virgins from the holy man's monastery where Aurea was abbess proceeded to the Lord. The blessed Eligius appeared one day to a certain adolescent in the basilica of the maidens, dressed in a white mantle covering a toga. The person who was there, in terror, sought a place to hide but the blessed man smoothly and kindly compelled him [eum], ordering that he should go immediately and tell the mother of the virgins to come to him with deputies from the virgins. He who heard this ran and soon found Aurea: "Arise, quickly, because the lord Eligius calls you to the church." Having heard this, with great joy, she hastened without delay; but when she finally arrived, the vision of the blessed man had disappeared. But the very church was a firm witness that he had been there for it was filled with cloud so thick that the candelabra were veiled and a distillation of dew was perceived. Then Aurea turned within herself, and understood that she was being called from this world. Immediately, convoking all her sisters, she began to say goodbye to each of them, sequestrating not a few of them from the others who would accompany her. Then she herself migrating to the Lord, the rest finally followed likewise, so that at that time from that same monastery as many as a hundred and sixty monachae died.

55. Now the news got around that miracles were being done through the most sacred body of Eligius. One illustrious man the graffio Garefred, coming to the basilica of the holy antistes said his prayers and then heard a great crowd of paupers crying out. And when he had a few in his presence to whom he could distribute alms, moved toward them by mercy, he began to express sorrow: "Never, o miserable ones, will you have such comfort, as you had with this blessed antistes! Oh, what cause could obstruct him who was ever active because of your misery, giving ear to your complaints, as so many make now and I, [am but] a miserable one!" And when he was crying out in this way he fell into a sort of ecstasy and the holy man came in a vision. And he was so consternated by the vision that he could barely stand there and suddenly he discovered gold in his hand and clothing which he could give to the poor and he did so at the same time. And with many companions who saw what had happened, he went out of the church and departed.

56. And let us not avoid this: the illustrious praepositus of the palace Ebroin-- whom the vulgar call major domo--had an adolescent son called Bobo, whom he and his wife greatly loved for he was their only child. Once the boy, struck to the marrow with disease began to weaken from fever which caused his parents great anguish which no one could solace. Steadily weakening, the boy began to fail and no one could help him as death seemed imminent. But as hope for his survival faded, the anxious parents confided in Eligius for their son believing in the antistes who had accomplished so many miracles. They would devote their son there and offered many gifts of thanks for the boy with grill ornament in every way fixed to the sepulchre at the same time. And this done, without delay by the intercession of the confessor the sickness left and the boy is convalescing even now, remaining in health and unharmed.

58. And let us know what he did lest silence hide the punishment visited on a certain man who was killed when greed for a field at Chaumont-en-Vexin pertaining to the basilica of St. Eligius invaded him. For when by evil order he was inclined to take an estate from his wealth, the abbot Sparvus of that same church opposed him energetically. And when the invasion had gone on for some time, he finally took the case to the royal palace and accepted judgment from the prince that, if he could take an oath (coniurare) in that holy place, it would vindicate his claim to part of the church. But he preferred that the same evil man who sought to invade it, should confirm his swearing. And when it was judged that the man should discharge his oath with many others according to Frankish law, the abbot himself forgiving that said: "I know that he wickedly invaded it, and therefore I ask, that each of the oath takers be asked, if it pleases God, to claim it by his personal oath." And when he said this, the word pleased the king's optimates and they decreed that it should be so. Thereafter they proceeded to the church of blessed Eligius and entered the place of his burial, awaiting the outcome of the affair. Thus the designated man, taking the business lightly, with importunate audacity placed his hand for the oath on the holy place. In the middle of the vow, he began to tremble and his body violently bent backward, his head twisted on his neck, and soon he fell with gnashing teeth and rolling eyes, his head down and foam issuing from his mouth. And he could say no words but these: "Abbot Sparvus, take your land." So he was struck by Divinity and there, prostrate on the ground, the miserable man met the death he had not feared with fortuitous caution. And all who saw were struck with awe, recognizing that the power there as everywhere came from Christ.


61. Modolenus, a certain centenarius, a colonus of the town of Noyon, had a good wife, honest and devout, who once while she was living a quiet life was struck wickedly with a nasty pustule. The decay growing, it lay swollen over her whole body and, the wound growing gradually, only her burial remained for her husband's care. So one morning when the abbot entered the basilica of blessed Eligius for prayer, he met the husband weeping and wailing over his wife. He said that his mate was dead and asked pleadingly that she be buried in the basilica. And when he asked him if she was truly dead: "It remains the same whether she is or soon will be, when now she lies mute and all her body dying." But he hastened swiftly to the sepulchre of the confessor and taking up from it the oily liquor which had poured from it he hurried to the house of mourning. For in the night he had had a vision of Saint Eligius who had ordered him that he should heal the woman of her disease by means of that oily liquor. So entering the house, he saw the corpse lying swollen and cold, among the mourners. And approaching, confident in the saint's order, he anointed the corpse with the oil he brought and said: "This saint Eligius ordered that by the virtue in the name of Christ you shall arise healed of this illness." And immediately the holy oil penetrating her guts, she began to move her eyes and as though waking from a deep sleep she sighed. And then wonderfully, the swelling went down all over her body and she regained her strength and the woman sat up. Without delay, after that all pain fled from her body and not the least swelling remained on her skin and her face became rosy and she arose from her bed blessing and glorifying her creator who had recalled her from death. So healed from this effect, she began to compel them there that day to eat food and would allow no one to leave her house without sitting down and letting her serve them a little meal.

62. One day after this there was a theft in the area of Noyon, and when people sought someone to admit to the crime, a certain youth who gave signs of a guilty conscience was brought to judgment. For at that time the youth was in contention with his father and had attempted to ambush him. Thus when the occasion arose and he had successfully cleared himself of guilt, he began to try to shift it onto his father. All this led to a public dispute between them which involved many others who joined in an examination before the count and bishop. Thus they argued in turn, the son working to reflect calumny on the father and the father, as well as he could, defending himself as innocent of crime, and in this manner they contended before duke and bishop. Thus did we see fulfilled what the Lord predicted long ago in the gospel: "Sons will rise against parents and bear hatred for them." Some of the witnesses favored the son but others held that they could not believe it right for a child to judge a father. And when the altercation between them went on in this way for a long time, and it proved not to be easy to discover a solution, at last the bishop took counsel with the duke. When they could in no way find the truth of the matter, they committed the judgment to the most blessed confessor: "Because we know not whom to believe in this thing, holy Eligius, we commit this judgment to the sentence of God with our prayers." Then, standing together before the holy sepulchre, they awaited God's judgment through an oath. And behold! just as he began to take the oath the young man was seized by a demon and heavily crushed to earth and plucking at himself violently the miserable man was twisted, shaking and spuming and turning white. And all the witnesses were dumbstruck with awe, and they glorified the judgment which came from almighty God. So was it made publicly manifest, and went out from the church. After this, the young man's punishment continued for a long time until many people who sympathized with the wretch went to the father and asked him to pray for him and so all prostrated themselves in the church to the blessed confessor and asked that he would hear them at the judgment and so hear with mercy. And when they persisted for a long time in this prayer, at last by the commiserating grace of Christ the malign infestation fled and the youth was restored to wholeness.

65. One day, with the sun nearing vespers, when the clerics customarily say the vespertine prayers, it happened by an attack of negligence that everyone had gone out of the basilica, each to his own occupations and at that hour the guardians had stationed no one inside. Suddenly a man with a faulty conscience, burning with greed, as a thief in his frenzy grasps a secret friend, swiftly ran to the sepulchre and, looking carefully around here and there, impelled by wicked cupidity, when the miserable man discerned that there was no one present, he did not fear to snatch furtively one of the innumerable golden hangings that ornamented the sepulchre. But when he tried to grab one of the golden chains from which he saw it hanging and violently pulled it to him, it broke and, as soon as he drew it, a pulse of sound gushed out that carried to the guards some way outside, who believed that some great crash had occurred in the church. Whence rushing as fast as they could to the church, they found the thief with his plunder held by the Divinity on the threshold of the basilica, unable to take a single step forward. Surrounding him at that moment where the sound had drawn them, they interrogated him about what he was doing there. Then indeed the wretch, discovered in the midst of his theft, was compelled to reveal what he removed and confess he tried to flee silently but could not lift a foot over the threshold of the basilica. So with shame the thief restored it and asked pardon for his crime with all his heart and then he could move from the place, freely discharged though mercy.

66. One day a certain secular man from a noble family, through guilt or accident, made the prince in every way hostile. Evidently to avenge this mishap, he was led into the palace by princely order to be executed. There his sentence of death was proclaimed. He was meanwhile put for safekeeping with Amalbert, an illustrious man, Count of Noyon. When he had been in his custody some days, one day he understood from the frequent vulgar words of the servants that the capital sentence would be discharged against him on the next day. And hearing that, he feared greatly that he would die and had no hope of escaping. He believed that his only hope was to keep vigil during that night near Saint Eligius. And when, by asking and pleading most ardently, he gained the confessor's mausoleum, he spent the whole night in tears and groans, begging the holy antistes that he might extend his protection to him the next day. And it was done. After the matutinal hymns which the clerk sang by custom, the man suddenly fell into deep sleep, worn out by his sorrow. And behold! suddenly Saint Eligius stood before him, refreshing him with his kindly face, and began to console him, promising to be with the prince on the following day. He swore that the prince would in no way take his life for the fault but having been pardoned, he would return unharmed to his own place. And so it happened. The next day when the man was brought into the prince's court, as the holy man predicted, he was freed and went home rejoicing.

67. The reward of the work is that virtues were not only effected for those who attended upon the sacred body but to others near and far wherever his relics were distributed. Therefore these things which I tell were done in my own monastery. One of the brothers was hurt in the face with a terrible ulcer which the vulgar call a pustule. In that same monastery, there was an oratory in which relics of Saint Eligius has been deposited. Therefore, when the brother lay on his sickbed and the doctor prepared to treat the ulcer by heating an iron, the brother was overcome with fear and urged him to give up that operation with red hot iron. Confiding in the merits of the confessor, he asked that some of the healing oil that hung before the said antistes' relics be brought to him. As soon as it was brought he smeared it on his face and neck with the swelling pustule and, oh wondrous power! after the infusion of that liquor the cancer dried up at the root without the application of any fire and was removed at once so that no vestige or scar remained on the monk's face. I have added that which I know only from hearsay.

68. When blessed Eligius in his secular dress fabricated the tomb of St. Martin in the city of Tours, he lodged in the house of a certain matron outside the walls in the vicus. Naturally, when that woman noted the holy man intent upon his work and knew that he was prompt to all good works, frequent in prayer and most generous for the consolation of the poor, as he truly was, she believed him to be a servant of God. And one day when, as usual, he was being barbered by one of his servants, she seized upon the linen upon which the hair fell in order to collect whatever of his hair and beard she could and hid the linen in her chest. Years passed and the woman almost forgot about the whole thing. But after St. Eligius' death, when the woman lay at night in secret silence, she heard right in her cubicle a celebration of psalling with sweet modulations and when, curious about what this portended, she looked about, she noticed a great radiance luminously shining. And when she had seen it she was terrified with great fear and did not dare to remain that night in her lodging. For at no point could she recall what she had formerly done through faith. Meanwhile she called Ageric, abbot of the basilica of St. Martin, and expounded the case to him in order, weeping that she was unable to rest safely in her house at night. The abbot went to the house in which was the portent and began to inquire of the woman whether something might have been left there by the servant of God, whether she had been given something as a gift or eulogy by that holy man, whether or not she might have taken something sometime from the belongings of the saint. Then indeed, as through a dream, despite the length of time, remembering holy Eligius' hair, she struck her breast often while telling the matter in order, how she had taken some of the shorn hair of the blessed man out of faith. And immediately when the place was scrutinized, those same relics appeared aromatic as with pungent unguents, intact as when she had collected them. And then she cleaned them with liquid and great as was the merit of the antistes so greatly pleasing to God was the faith of that matron so that after the running of so many years in the same place by divine order prodigious miracles were displayed. For I have heard that after in that same house a place of prayer was built by the faithful. And there miracles similar to those at Noyon occurred.

69. And in the monastery the holy man built at Noyon, an old woman collected his hair clippings for herself and put them in a covered basket in a sack under her bed. But often, after the blessed man migrated from the world, when all were blinded by the gloomy shadows of night, so splendid a ray shone from that place that it drove out all the nocturnal darkness from the house. When the nuns discerned it to be from that woman's place, they called the sister and strove to learn from her what might cause radiance that shone from her bed at night. Then recalling the relics of the holy man, she explained, to the wonder of them all, that this must be the cause. And hearing this the women went straight to the place and took up the relics soon bringing them to a worthy place, glorifying and praising God who is faithful in his words and furnishes such glory to his saints.

70. But neither should I be silent that a brother in a monastery in the Touraine received a cure. There was a certain honorable monk known familiarly to me, who labored for several days with an advancing illness in his viscera and when he could not regain any part of his strength or recover his health, inspired by the mercy of God, he finally covered himself with holy Eligius's chasuble which he had preserved with great reverence. Of course, clothed so out of faith and wrapped like an old woman with each limb failing from severe weakness, leaning on a staff, he received the communion of Christ. Afterwards he was rendered whole and sound and so that while he convalesced he was more vigorous than he had been before.

71. Another brother in my monastery, his body filled with pus was troubled by a most serious tertian fever. When the disease grew stronger over many days, he was greatly terrified that he would shake himself to pieces with each of his limbs trembling with weakness. One of the deacons of the monastery inspected the tremor and offered to impose a certain piece of linen which blessed Eligius had once worn on his body on the sick man's breast. After he had done that three times, the sick man began to sweat copiously and turn red. With a violent gasp his chest quaking, suddenly he vomited a great abundance of bile. and thereafter, by the merciful grace of Christ, convalescing, he received his pristine health.

72. And I certainly must add this, that a certain man living not far from the confines of the city of Rheims conceived, by the desire of a religious mind, that he should build a basilica in honor of holy Eligius on his estate. And when it was done, desiring it to be adorned with relics of this same holy confessor, he went to the municipium of Noyon. When he arrived there he sued for relics and obtained what he required. But when he wanted to leave the town, a certain cleric agitated by greed appeared and began violently to detain him saying that he could not allow him to take the relics away for free but he must pay some reward for them. Then the aforesaid man, in order to escape speedily from his hands, gave him a small present of what he happened to have with him at the moment, not without grief. Avidly grabbing the offering, without hesitation, he hid it within his pocket. Immediately glowing with divine fire, it suddenly began to burn his breast and his clothing with an intense conflagration compelling him to cry out in a loud voice, "Spare me, Saint Eligius, because miserable I should never have presumed to act as I have!" Soon the bystanders hastily pulled off his smoking clothes and restored the gift he had accepted to the traveller. Then they led the penitent weeping many tears to the tomb of the confessor, where, rubbing him with oils, they soon sedated the burns and he was freed from torment. I don't doubt that this happened so that those of similar greediness might be more easily attacked and their rapacity confounded, at least those who are not respectful of them perversely accepting money to sell the relics of saints. Therefore cease, I beg, this contagium in all places, lest it kindles the same fire.

73. I add something that I know from the testimony of the devout man Fredegisil the priest. A certain monk coming from Noyon carried relics of blessed Eligius with him so that naturally, as is proper, he bestowed them with great reverence on the basilica. After some days two men, one blind and the other lame faithfully prostrating themselves there were healed only by the saint's intervention; the blind man, of course receiving light and the lame one the ability to walk and, after being cured, both returned home. Likewise in another basilica which was most elegantly built in Aquitaine, a man similarly stricken with a lame foot was healed when he was anointed with the oil which had been placed on the altar before worship. The bonds on his nerves were loosed and he was healed.


75. One of the brothers from among the monks of blessed Eligius lay at one time in his bed struck by a gouty humor in the foot so swollen that he could in no way bear to put his foot on the ground. After some while he confided this about the merits of the confessor, melotem of blessed Eligius, that for a great reward to one who served him, touched him devoutly and softening the swollen and immobile foot with his mouth, he restored his ability to walk and from that time forward he was free of the gout. Indeed I have thought it fitting to include it in this book what he declared to be a miracle.

76. When the blessed man was accustomed to go frequently to he royal villa at CompiŠgne, he established a hospice above the river Oise where he installed one of his servants named Waldoleno. And after he migrated from the world, that host showed little reverence for the episcopal blanket which he wore out through careless bedding, draping in over so many beds of men of no account. The bed frame which his holy hands had often touched, made a threshold for the door. And with no hesitation, he joined with his wife in that place where the blessed man had rested. And behold! that very night he was seized with fever and began at the same time to weaken, tremble, sweat and turn pale; and his feet which had trampled the couch with the bedding began to hurt terribly and to aggravate the strength of the burning fever so that he was compelled to keep them from making a step. And when he was thus tormented so fiercely, his wife in a vision was warned that they should both move as far as they could and, with the utmost diligence, restore the couch which they had thrown down so carelessly to its original place with all the bedding as it had been composed. But she was carelessly forgetful of the vision so her husband was tortured even more atrociously and the next night he was admonished that unless he got up immediately from the bed he would be even more severely afflicted. Once the vision had instructed him, the fever began to recede and he arose so that he could restore the bed. When he had diligently gone out of the place and restored the cleansed bed as it was before and made much penitence, he was healed. News of this miracle spread abroad people began to understand that gifts were coming in that place and crowds of people began to come and declare the great wondrous powers demonstrated there. And they began to make contributions. A basilica was constructed and the hospice worthily kept the bed Eligius possessed worthily wonderfully adorned in eternity. And Clement the bishop of Beauvais had it under his regimen and many miracles occurred from which I shall commemorate only two.

77. One day the brother kings Clothar and Theuderic, having left their palace, turned into this place to pray. When they had prayed, they were returning home when one of their optimates gave wise counsel that they should leave some alms in that place in veneration of the saint. But the elder king in swift disdain neglected these words while the younger, who had progressed further into maturity, placed some gold coins with a vow from the radiant metal. They both left and went home. King Clothar was seized with fever rolled into a ball with his whole body burning and suddenly, [blood] flowing from his head, he began to suffer from a sharp toothache. And that night in the greatest agony he remembered how negligent he had been the day before when he had fled the sanctuary of holy Eligius while his brother had given alms and he had offered nothing. Therefore, he had earned this punishment. He sent much public money by a trusted person. And as soon as the gift was laid down there, he was immediately cured and regained his health without delay.


79. Many other similar things, by order of the lord, were achieved by the virtues of his merits, among which a lamp overflowed, exuding an excess of oil from which many by that holy liquor were anointed here and healed of diverse disabilities and were blessed in the name of the savior our Lord. And all this was done in CompiŠgne. But likewise his bed. situated in the monastery on his estates called Vitry-en-Artois, announced similar virtues and effected diverse cures. All of which we would lead us to proceed away from the order of our words and therefore about them we complete but a few syllables because now we must hasten to cease from this overlong locution.

80. Miracles from the blessed man still help some in this place and from different other places but particularly his most sacred body revealed so many things that if we tried to steer a course through them one by one as they happened we would greatly exceed this volume and in that way irritate the reader with overwhelming boredom. So let us be content to have said enough. For the faithful will recognize that each thing we have said will stand for many more. One of these things will be shown by the chains which now are shown hanging from his tomb. We might just sample something from the many things we could commemorate. For many broken chains testify to all and the broken leg shackles that are shown, smashed stones and crutches of the lame are shown in proof. Expulsion of demons and enlightenment of the blind are only marked by blood on the pavement. And these deeds are repeated many times over. If only there were time and space, how many and what sort of things were done and do not cease today to mark the tomb of the prelate? For no, there is no cessation even today but the sick come and are given healing. They flee in irons and are loosed. The sick come in litters and walk away returning on foot to their homes. They come in peril and with demons troubling them. Demoniacs come and are freed; the blind come and are illuminated.

81. But because by the generosity of the lord, we have set out this word we now must pray the reader not to despise the vileness of our words because it might be possible to make a more eloquent prayer but we correct the pen most studiously that we might commend something better than words to the readers. So this work should not be swollen with inflated eloquence that springs from an antistes of such eloquence. So let these pages show that I am more devout than daring because I have not snatched by presumption the burden of such strength softened, when I know so insignificant and trifling an author to be unworthy of such excellent things. But when I am the debtor for 10,000 talents, I have hastened to render up this insignificant gift to him from whom I received them, fearing to incur guilt by keeping silence


This ends the life of Saint Eligius bishop and confessor.

Source: Vita S. Eligius, ed. Levison, MGH SS Mer. 4, 669-742

Translation and notes, © 1997, Jo Ann McNamara []

This text will be published in Medieval Hagiography: A Sourcebook, ed. Thomas Head, (New York: Garland, forthcoming 1999). The version here is a complete translation of the MGH text, whereas the print version has been cut. It, however, notes and this one does not. There is a note in the "further readings" section of Prf. Head's compilation directing the reader to the complete version at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Permission is granted for distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use, including use by university presses..

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Paul Halsall August 1996, revised version October 1998

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