Saint Christopher
Overview
 
.
Saint Christopher is a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 venerated
Veneration
Veneration , or veneration of saints, is a special act of honoring a saint: an angel, or a dead person who has been identified by a church committee as singular in the traditions of the religion. It is practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic Churches...

 by Roman Catholics
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 and Orthodox Christians
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

, listed as a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman Emperor Decius
Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

 (reigned 249-251) or alternatively under the Roman Emperor Maximinus II Dacian (reigned 308-313). There appears to be confusion due to the similarity in names "Decius" and "Dacian."

The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 venerates Saint Christopher on May 9. The Tridentine Calendar
Tridentine Calendar
The Tridentine Calendar is the calendar of saints to be honoured in the course of the liturgical year in the official liturgy of the Roman Rite as reformed by Pope Pius V, implementing a decision of the Council of Trent, which entrusted the task to the Pope....

 allowed a commemoration of Saint Christopher on 25 July only in private Masses
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

.
Encyclopedia
.
Saint Christopher is a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 venerated
Veneration
Veneration , or veneration of saints, is a special act of honoring a saint: an angel, or a dead person who has been identified by a church committee as singular in the traditions of the religion. It is practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic Churches...

 by Roman Catholics
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 and Orthodox Christians
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

, listed as a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman Emperor Decius
Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

 (reigned 249-251) or alternatively under the Roman Emperor Maximinus II Dacian (reigned 308-313). There appears to be confusion due to the similarity in names "Decius" and "Dacian."

The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 venerates Saint Christopher on May 9. The Tridentine Calendar
Tridentine Calendar
The Tridentine Calendar is the calendar of saints to be honoured in the course of the liturgical year in the official liturgy of the Roman Rite as reformed by Pope Pius V, implementing a decision of the Council of Trent, which entrusted the task to the Pope....

 allowed a commemoration of Saint Christopher on 25 July only in private Masses
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

. This restriction was lifted later (see General Roman Calendar as in 1954). Although the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 still approves devotion to him, listing him in the Roman Martyrology
Roman Martyrology
The Roman Martyrology is the official martyrology of the Roman Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. It provides an extensive but not exhaustive list of the saints recognized by the Church.-History:...

 among the saints venerated on 25 July, Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 removed his feast day from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints
Roman Catholic calendar of saints
The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used...

 in his 1969 motu proprio
Motu proprio
A motu proprio is a document issued by the Pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him....

 Mysterii Paschalis
Mysterii Paschalis
Mysterii Paschalis is the title of an apostolic letter motu proprio issued by Pope Paul VI on February 14, 1969...

. At that time the church declared that this commemoration was not of Roman tradition, in view of the relatively late date (about 1550) and limited manner in which it was accepted into the Roman calendar, but his feast is still observed locally.

Legend

There are several legends associated with the life and death of Saint Christopher. The most popular variations originate from the thirteenth-century The Golden Legend.

According to the legendary account of his life, Christopher was a Canaanite 5 cubits (7.5 feet (2.3 m)) tall and with a fearsome face. While serving the king of Canaan, he took it into his head to go and serve "the greatest king there was" (Christ). He went to the king who was reputed to be the greatest, but one day he saw the king cross himself at the mention of the devil. On thus learning that the king feared the devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

, he departed to look for the devil. He came across a band of marauders, one of whom declared himself to be the devil, so Christopher decided to serve him. But when he saw his new master avoid a wayside cross and found out that the devil feared Christ, he left him and enquired from people where to find Christ. He met a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

 who instructed him in the Christian faith. Christopher asked him how he could serve Christ. When the hermit suggested fasting and prayer, Christopher replied that he was unable to perform that service. The hermit then suggested that because of his size and strength Christopher could serve Christ by assisting people to cross a dangerous river, where they were perishing in the attempt. The hermit promised that this service would be pleasing to Christ.

After Christopher had performed this service for some time, a little child asked him to take him across the river. During the crossing, the river became swollen and the child seemed as heavy as lead, so much that Christopher could scarcely carry him and found himself in great difficulty. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." The child then vanished.

Christopher later visited the city of Lycia and there comforted the Christians who were being martyred. Brought before the local king, he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. The king tried to win him by riches and by sending two beautiful women to tempt him. Christopher converted the women to Christianity, as he had already converted thousands in the city. The king ordered him to be killed. Various attempts failed, but finally Christopher was decapitated.

Historical identification

Historical examination of the legends suggests Reprobus (Christopher) lived during the Christian persecutions of the Roman emperor Decius
Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

, and that he was captured and martyred by the governor of Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. Historian David Woods has proposed that Christopher's remains were possibly taken to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 by Peter of Attalia where he may have become identified with the Egyptian martyr Saint Menas
Saint Menas
Saint Menas , the Martyr and Wonder-worker, is one of the most well-known Egyptian saints in the East and the West, due to the many miracles that are attributed to his intercession and prayers...

.

The legend of Saint Christopher records two important historical facts that identify him with the historical Saint Menas
Saint Menas
Saint Menas , the Martyr and Wonder-worker, is one of the most well-known Egyptian saints in the East and the West, due to the many miracles that are attributed to his intercession and prayers...

. The first is that the Greek and Latin legends of Saint Christopher identify him as belonging to the Third Valerian Cohort of the Marmantae (Latin: Cohors tertia Valeria
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

, at Marmantarum
), a military unit of Northern Africa of Marmarica
Marmarica
Marmarica in ancient geography referred to the part of the North African coast between Cyrenaica and Aegyptus.It corresponds to what is now the border region between Libya and Egypt, including the towns of Bomba , Timimi , Tobruk , Acroma , Bardiya, As-Salum, Sidi Barrani .It...

 (between modern day Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

), recruited by none other than the Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

. The second is that Saint Christopher was martyred in Antioch.

The martyrdom of Saint Menas
Saint Menas
Saint Menas , the Martyr and Wonder-worker, is one of the most well-known Egyptian saints in the East and the West, due to the many miracles that are attributed to his intercession and prayers...

 corresponds to the details of the legend of Saint Christopher. The theory that identifies the two saints as one and the same concludes that the name "Christopher" meaning "Christ-bearer" was a title given to the name of the valiant Menas who died in Antioch. Since, he was not a native of that land, his name was not known and so he was simply revered by his generic title: "Christophoros" or "Christ-Bearer." Saint Menas happens to be the patron of travelers in the Coptic tradition, which further supports an association with Saint Christopher who is the patron of travelers in the Greek and Latin traditions.

Eastern Orthodox liturgy

The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 venerates Christopher of Lycea with a Feast Day on May 9. The liturgical reading and hymns refer to his imprisonment by Decius who tempts Christopher with harlots before ordering his beheading. The Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Kontakion
Kontakion is a form of hymn performed in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The word derives from the Greek word kontax , meaning pole, specifically the pole around which a scroll is wound. The term describes the way in which the words on a scroll unfurl as it is read...

 (hymn) reads:

Thou who wast terrifying both in strength and in countenance, for thy Creator's sake thou didst surrender thyself willingly to them that sought thee; for thou didst persuade both them and the women that sought to arouse in thee the fire of lust, and they followed thee in the path of martyrdom. And in torments thou didst prove to be courageous. Wherefore, we have gained thee as our great protector, O great Christopher.


Relics

The Museum of Sacred Art at Saint Justine's Church (Sveti Justina) in Rab
Rab
Rab is an island in Croatia and a town of the same name located just off the northern Croatian coast in the Adriatic Sea.The island is long, has an area of and 9,480 inhabitants . The highest peak is Kamenjak at 408 meters...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 claims a gold-plated reliquary
Reliquary
A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures...

 holds the skull of St. Christopher. According to the church, the skull was transported there in the 11th century and when placed upon the city wall, it destroyed a siege of the city by a Saracen
Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

 army.

Medals

Medal
Medal
A medal, or medallion, is generally a circular object that has been sculpted, molded, cast, struck, stamped, or some way rendered with an insignia, portrait, or other artistic rendering. A medal may be awarded to a person or organization as a form of recognition for athletic, military, scientific,...

lions with St. Christopher's name and image are commonly worn as pendant
Pendant
A pendant is a loose-hanging piece of jewellery, generally attached by a small loop to a necklace, when the ensemble may be known as a "pendant necklace". A pendant earring is an earring with a piece hanging down. In modern French "pendant" is the gerund form of “hanging”...

s, especially by travelers, to show devotion and as a request for his blessing. Miniature statues are frequently displayed in automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s. In French a widespread phrase for such medals is "Regarde St Christophe et va-t-en rassuré" ("Look at St Christopher and go on reassured"); Saint Christopher medals and holy card
Holy card
In the Catholic tradition, holy cards or prayer cards are small, devotional pictures mass-produced for the use of the faithful. They typically depict a religious scene or a saint in an image about the size of a playing card. The reverse typically contains a prayer, some of which promise an...

s in Spanish have the phrase "Si en San Cristóbal confías, de accidente no morirás" ("If you trust St. Christopher, you won't die in an accident"). In Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 an annual collection for providing vehicles for the use of missionaries is taken up on a Sunday close to the feast of Saint Christopher, asking people to contribute a very small sum of money for every kilometer that they have traveled safely during the year.

General patronage

Christopher is a widely popular saint, especially revered by athletes, mariners, ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

men, and travelers. He is revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Fourteen Holy Helpers
The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases...

. He holds patronage of things related to travel and travelers: against lightning
Lightning
Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

; against pestilence
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

; archers
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

; bachelor
Bachelor
A bachelor is a man above the age of majority who has never been married . Unlike his female counterpart, the spinster, a bachelor may have had children...

s; boatmen; bookbinders; epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

; floods; fruit dealers; fuller
Fulling
Fulling or tucking or walking is a step in woolen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker, or walker...

s; gardeners; for a holy death; mariners; market carriers; motorists and drivers; sailors; storms; surfers; toothache
Toothache
A toothache, also known as odontalgia or, less frequently, as odontalgy, is an aching pain in or around a tooth.-Causes:* Dental etiology, In most cases toothaches are caused by problems in the tooth or jaw, such as** Dental caries...

; mountaineering; and transportation workers.

Patronage of places

Christopher is the patron saint of many places, including: Baden, Germany
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

; Barga, Italy
Barga
Barga is a medieval town and comune of the province of Lucca in Tuscany, central Italy. It is home to around 10,000 people and is the chief town of the "Media Valle" of the Serchio.-Geography:...

; Brunswick, Germany
Braunschweig
Braunschweig , is a city of 247,400 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser....

; Mecklenburg, Germany
Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

; Rab, Croatia
Rab
Rab is an island in Croatia and a town of the same name located just off the northern Croatian coast in the Adriatic Sea.The island is long, has an area of and 9,480 inhabitants . The highest peak is Kamenjak at 408 meters...

; Roermond, The Netherlands; Saint Christopher's Island (Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts Saint Kitts Saint Kitts (also known more formally as Saint Christopher Island (Saint-Christophe in French) is an island in the West Indies. The west side of the island borders the Caribbean Sea, and the eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean...

); Toses in Catalonia, Spain
Girona
Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, with an official population of 96,236 in January 2009. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès...

; Mondim de Basto, Portugal
Mondim de Basto
Mondim de Basto is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 172.1 km² and a total population of 8,470 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 8 parishes, and is located in the district of Vila Real....

; Agrinion, Greece; Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

; Riga, Latvia
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

; Havana, Cuba
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

; and Paete, Laguna, Philippines.

Depictions in art

Because Christopher offered protection to travelers and against sudden death, many churches placed images or statues of him, usually opposite the south door, so he could be easily seen. He is usually depicted as a giant of a man, with a child on his shoulder and a staff in one hand. In England, there are more wall paintings of Christopher than of any other saint; in 1904, Mrs. Collier, writing for the British Archaeological Association
British Archaeological Association
The British Archaeological Association was founded in 1843; it was established by Charles Roach Smith. It is aimed at the promotion of the studies of archaeology, art and architecture and the preservation of antiquities. After disagreements arose, it was split into two organizations, the newer one...

, reported 183 paintings, statues, and other representations of the saint, outnumbering all others except for the Virgin Mary.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK