Squire of Cups – St. Eligius

Originally written by me in December 2006

St. Eligius is also known as Eloi, Eloy, Loy, or Loye.

He was an artist, known particularly as a supreme metalworker, and was apprenticed to the Master of the mint at Limoges and held the similar post of treasurer at Marseilles. He was a talented engraver and smith and became extremely wealthy, and powerful. Eligius worked in the household of Merovingian king Clotaire, and then as chief counsellor for his son Dagobert I, and was very influential, often seeing people before they met the King.

The Merovingians were Frankish/Germanic people that ruled much of modern-day France and Germany until the year 751. Dagobert’s capital was Paris. The work of Eligius can also be seen in the catalogue of Merovingian coins at the National Library in Paris. A fascinating tidbit: At Sutton Hoo, 37 Merovingian coins were found, the latest of which dates to the 620s.

Many reliquaries/ornaments are attributed to Eligius, such as the tomb for St. Martin of Tours, St. Dionysius (aka St-Denis), St. Germanus of Paris, St. Geneviève, St. Quentin, St. Crispin and Saint Crispinian at Soissons, Saint Lucian, Saint Piat, and Saint Severinus. Several writings of Eligius have survived: a sermon in which he combats the pagan practices of his time; an exposition about the last Judgment; and a letter written in 645, in which he asks for the prayers of Bishop Desiderius of Cahors.

Word like “enthusiasm,” “hard-working,” and “vigour” are used to describe him. He could have retired and treated his bishopric as an honorary title, but he worked hard in the office for 19 years. He founded and financed several churches, monasteries, missionary work, and used his own money to free slaves. The land given to him by King Dagobert was used for his monastery and convent. Eligius continually used his own wealth and influence for spiritual purposes. Part of his missionary work was to a Druid group in Flanders.

Apart from the direct relation to the image of him making a cup or chalice on the Tarot card, I think there are several other factors that aptly place him on the Page of Cups, or Squire of Cups in this instance in the Tarot of the Saints.

He retained the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the Page all his life. The man just never stopped, and was always planning things to do and travelling, meeting people. Expansion and development were second nature to him, he continually went in new directions, not content to sit life out in retirement. Life was a new beginning for him right up to his death.

He was also clairvoyant and made prophecies, including one of his own death. This seems to reflect the unconscious, mysterious waters and emotions of the Cups suit to me. His imagination and deep creativity reflect the sensitivity of this card as does his psychic power.

I only have one other card about Eligius, depicting a painted wood statue, which has a naive, folk art look to it.

I finally found another picture of Eligius on a holy card depicted in the book Patron Saints. This is very elegant looking and he holds his hammer for forging metal in this one too.

Other art depicting Eligius:

— Alessandro Botticelli. Coronation of the Virgin with the Saints John the Evangelist, Augustine, Jerome and Eligius. (San Marco altarpiece). c. 1490-1492. Tempera on panel. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy.

— Petrus Christus. St. Eligius, as a Goldsmith, Hands the Wedding Couple a Ring. 1469. Oil on wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Interestingly, this painting has a convex mirror in it like Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife 1434. Petrus Christus may have been apprenticed to Van Eyck.

The Legend of S. Eloy and S. Godeberta, signed by Renaissance painter Petrus Christus of Bruges, and dated I449

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