Feast Day : July 25
Patronage: against accidents; bachelors; bus drivers; against mortal dangers; motorists; against nightmares; against the plague; porters; sailors; against sudden death; travelers; truck drivers; America
Name meaning: Christ-bearer
According to lore, Christopher, called Kester, was a large, ugly man who earned his living by ferrying people across a river. Christopher was popularized by William Caxton’s version of the Golden Legend. According to Caxton, Christopher was of the lineage of the Canaanites. Prior to baptism, his name was Reprobus. As Christopher, he bore Christ in four ways: on his shoulders by leading and conveying; in his body by making it lean; in his mind by devotion; and in his mouth by confessing and preaching. The legend tells that one day Christopher decided to seek out the greatest prince in the world. He learned about the devil, and searched until he found him. But the devil fled at the presence of a cross, and told Christopher about Christ. Christopher wandered, found a hermit, and made a home for himself by a river. One day as he slept he was awakened by a child asking to be carried across the river. Christopher put him on his shoulders. As he waded into the water, the child grew heavier and heavier until Christopher feared for his life. The child then revealed himself to be Christ. He told Christopher to place his staff in the earth and be rewarded with flowers and fruit. Christopher did so, and the next day found his staff like a palm tree. Christopher went to Lycia in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), where God granted him the ability to understand the foreign tongue. There he preached and converted 8,000 men. The king sent knights to fetch him; he converted them. The king executed the knights and had Christopher thrown in prison. He was severely tortured with iron rods and burning pitch but remained unscathed and refused to renounce his faith. The king had him bound to a stake and shot with the arrows of 40 archers. The arrows stopped in the air and did not strike him; one returned and blinded the king in one eye. Christopher told him that upon his death on the morrow, the king should take some of his blood, mix it with clay and anoint the eye, and it would be healed. The next day, Christopher was beheaded. The king did as instructed, and his sight was restored. The king converted. From this legend arose the belief that whoever looks upon an image of Christopher will not be harmed that day. In the Middle Ages, statues of him were placed near the entrances to churches. The legend may be based on a martyr named Christopher and called Kester, who made his living by ferrying people across a river, and who died ca. 251 in Lycia in Asia Minor. His relics were taken to Paris and Rome. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helper saints, Christopher was especially invoked against the plague in the Middle Ages. He appeared to St. Joan of Arc.