Saint Christopher

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Patron Saint of Travelers and Drivers

Saint Christopher LegendSaint Christopher is one of the most popular saints in modern times.

He is known as the patron saint of travelers, drivers, sailors, storm, bachelors, gardeners, bubonic plague and toothache.

He is one of the saints in the group called “Fourteen Holy Helpers”. These fourteen saints were thought to be supportive to help fight a number of different diseases. 

Devotions to the Fourteen Holy Helpers were extensive during the devastating and troubling times of the Black Death in Europe (1346 -1353).

Patron Saint of travelers and drivers

Saint Christopher is widely recognized as the patron saint of travelers. Countess people worldwide would never dream of going on a trip without wearing a Saint Christopher medallion.

Men and women alike wear Saint Christopher
necklaces or carry other items containing the saint with them.

This could be a key ring, bracelet, brooch, picture and what have you not.

Saint Christopher is displayed in thousands of cars and trucks as the drivers feel a lot safer on the road with the protection from Saint Christopher.

Feast Day Removed From the Catholic Calendar

The feast day of Saint Christopher (July 25th) was removed from the general Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969. Pope Paul VI requested a review of all the saints and a reform of the feast days. Many saints had their feast day deleted from the General calendar of Saints during this reform.

The reason was that there were not enough facts known about these saints and many of the stories connected to the saints could be considered legends.

This does not imply that Christopher is no longer a saint. He will always remain a saint.

The only difference is that he no longer is included in the general calendar of saints.

Churches are free to celebrate any saint they wish and many do have their own local calendar of saints that is attuned to local saints important to the parishioners. 





Meaning of the name Christopher

The name Christopher means “Bearer of Christ”.

Saint Christopher went by the name Reprobus before he became a Christian.

Saint Christopher statueThe legend of  SaintChristopher clearly illustrates why he received his new name as bearing Christ.

It is told that Saint Christopher bore Christ in four different manners:

On his shoulders

In his body, making it trim

In his mind by constant devotion

Through his speech by confession

 

Legend of Saint Christopher

There are several legends about Saint Christopher. The most popular one is found in The Golden Legend
by  Jacobus de Voragine – Volume 4 from the 13th century. The Golden Legend is a huge collection of hagiographies.

Reprobus lived during the reign of the Roman Empire of Decius (249-251). He was a lineage of the Canaanites.

Reprobus was a huge and fearsome looking man. He was twelve cubits tall. That is equivalent to 7.5 feet or 2.3 meters.

He had decided he wanted to serve the greatest and most powerful king in the world. He eventually found a great king who accepted him to his court. The king was a Christian.

One day Reprobus observed that the king made the sign of the cross whenever he heard the devils name spoken.

Reprobus asked the king for an explanation to this strange behavior. At first the king refused to tell him. Reprobus threatened to leave the king if he did not reveal the reason for his actions.

The king fearful of losing this great servant explained that he was fearful of the devil and crossed himself as a precaution.

Reprobus was appalled. He proclaimed he had mistakenly believed he was serving the greatest king around, but he discovered the king was afraid of the devil.

He concluded the devil was more powerful and set off to find this devil, so that he might serve someone even more powerful.

His journey took him through the desert. There he encountered a group of atrocious knights.  They demanded to know what his mission was. Reprobus replied he was seeking the devil. The cruelest of the knights answered that he was indeed the devil.

Reprobus happily joined the group. As they journeyed on through the desert they came to a passing with a cross planted in the ground and standing erect and tall.

The devil immediately fled in a different direction. Reprobus demanded an explanation. At first the devil refused to tell him.  Reprobus threatened to leave.

The devil reluctantly informed him about Christ who died on a cross and that whenever he saw the cross he was compelled to flee.

Reprobus then realized that this Christ certainly had to be the greatest of them all and set off to find Christ.

He finally met a hermit who could teach him about Christ. Reprobus was eager to start serving Christ, but was saddened when he learned of some of the conditions.

The hermit had said he must often fast. This was not an option. He begged the hermit to inform him of an alternative way to serve Christ.

The hermit took a long look at this muscular giant and said he knew of an alternative way for this newcomer to serve the Lord.

There was a fierce river not far away. His new mission was to see to it the people could safely cross the river even if it meant carrying them over to the other side.

Eagerly and happily Reprobus took on this task and did a magnificent job ensuring that all might cross the river safely.

St ChristopherOne night when he was as he was sleeping in his hut, he was awakened by a voice of a child calling for him to take him over the river.

He hurried out, but found no one. 

Returning to his bed he heard the same voice a second time. Going outside he did not see anyone this time either.

Then he heard the same voice a third time. He went outside and there by the riverbank he found a young boy asking to be carried across the river.

He lifted the child on to his shoulders and walked into the river. It should have been an easy task, but it proved to be the hardest mission he had ever encountered.

Halfway through, the child got heavier and heavier and felt like led. At one point he feared they would both drown.

After the toughest task of his life he finally reached the other side. He was exhausted. He put the child on the ground and said to the child that he had put him in the greatest danger; it had felt as if he was carrying the whole world on his shoulders.

The child answered that he had not only carried the world on his shoulders, but also him that had created and made the entire world.

The child then mysteriously vanished. Reprobus had become Christopher, the bearer of Christ.

Christopher went on a mission into the city of Lycia. He did not know the language and prayed to God that he might understand the language spoken. His prayers were answered.

Christopher spoke of Christ to all he met. He refused to worship the pagan gods of the city.

It is told that many thousand converted to Christianity. The king did not appreciate what was going on.

The king ordered the arrest of Christopher. Two women were sent to the prison cell with a mission to lure Christopher to sin. The two women named Aquilina and Nicæa had been promised wonderful gifts if they succeeded.

The women did not manage to tempt Christopher sin.  Quite the opposite happened; the two women converted to Christianity.

The women received the death sentence. Aquilina was hanged and Nicæa was thrown into a fire. When Nicæa walked unharmed out of the fire, she was beheaded.

The two women became martyrs for their newfound faith.

Christopher was brutally tortured. At one point swords were thrown at him. One of the swords inexplicably changed directions and hit the king in the eye making him blind.

Christopher told the king that he knew he would face death the next day.

He advised the king to take some blood from his dead body and mix it with a little clay. He was to smear it on his eyes and he would be healed.

Christopher was beheaded the following day. The king believing he had nothing to lose did as Christopher had told him to do.

As the king put the mixture of blood and clay on his eyes he proclaimed “In the name of Christ and Christopher”.

His eyes were immediately healed. The king converted to Christianity.



Prayer to Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher by Bouts 1420-1475There are many prayers to Saint Christopher. The following two Saint Christopher Prayers are well-known.

Dear Saint Christopher, protect me today

 in all my travels along the road’s way.

 Give your warning sign if danger is near

 so that I may stop while the path is clear.

 Be at my window and direct me through  when the vision blurs

 From out of the blue.

 Carry me safely  to my destined place,

 like you carried Christ  in your close embrace.

 Amen.

 

Saint Christopher Motorists’ Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye

that no one shall be hurt as I pass by.

You gave life; I pray no act of mine

may take away or mar that gift of Thine.

Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company,

from the evils of fire and all calamity.

 

Teach me, to use my car for others need;

Nor miss through love of undue speed

The beauty of the world; that thus I may

with joy and courtesy go on my way.

St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny.