A Garner of Saints – Saint Christopher

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Christopher by Ott Frères, 1911; church of Saint Laurent, Verrière, France; photographed in 2012 by Ralph Hammann; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

A Canaanite by race and a giant of terrible aspect, 12 feet high. He determined to seek out the most powerful prince on earth to go and serve him, and having learned that there was a King Maximus who was reputed to have no superior, he proceeded to his court. But one day as the king’s minstrel was singing a song in which mention of the devil occurred frequently, Christopher observed that the king made the sign of the cross every time the name was uttered. Christopher asked the king for an explanation, and learned that Maximus made the sign of the cross to protect himself from the power of the devil. From this Christopher concluded that the devil was a greater lord than his master, and bidding farewell to the king he set out to find the tempter. Arrived at a waste place he found a great multitude there, and one of terrible appearance came and asked what he wanted, and when Christopher replied whom he was seeking, the devil declared himself. Christopher therefore entered his service, but one day as they were both traversing a highway they came upon a crucifix, whereupon the devil fled from the path and took to the wood, returning to the road some way further on. Much astonished, Christopher asked the reason for this, and the devil replied that the crucifix was the thing which he most feared. From this Christopher concluded that Christ was greater than the devil, and hastened away to seek this new master. But being unable to find Him anywhere he came to a hermit, who instructed him in the faith and baptised him. The hermit imposed fasting and prayer upon him as a penance for his sins, but Christopher declared that this was an impossible task for him, and asked to be put to other service. The hermit then sent him to a river to carry over all those who wished to cross, as this would be pleasing to Christ. Thither he went and built a house by the bank, carrying in his hand a staff a perch long, by which he supported himself in the water, and thus he bore many people over. One night as he was sleeping he was roused by a child’s voice asking to be taken over. He went out and found no one; the cry came again, and still he found no one, but the third time he found the child, put him on his shoulders, and entered the river. Then the water began to roar and the child became heavier and heavier, and it was with the greatest difficulty that Christopher could struggle to the shore and put him down, complaining as he did so of his great weight. The child replied, “Do not wonder, for you have carried on your shoulders the Creator of the world who is called the Lord Christ.” In sign of this the child commanded him to plant his staff in the ground, and in the morning he should find it bearing flowers and fruit, and immediately the Christ vanished. The next morning Christopher found his staff had flowered like a palm tree, and then he knew that he had indeed carried the Christ. After some years Christopher went to Samos, but as he did not speak the language he prayed that God would grant him the power of speech. Proceeding to the place of torture, he encouraged the Christians who were undergoing martyrdom. Planting his staff in the ground, it immediately blossomed at his prayer, and 8ooo men were converted. Then the king sent zoo soldiers to take him, but they dared not do it, so the king sent zoo more, and finding him praying they prayed with him. Though they would have allowed him to depart freely, he went quietly with them, converting them as they went. When the king saw him he fell from his throne from fear, but was picked up by his slaves. Interrogated by the king, Christopher refused to sacrifice to idols, though he was oflered rewards and honours if he would comply. The king then sent him to prison and beheaded the soldiers who had taken him. The king next ordered that Christopher should be beaten with iron rods, put a red hot helmet on his head, and bound him to a seat of burning fire, but the seat melted as if it had been of wax. Then the king ordered 400 soldiers to shoot at him with their arrows, but the shafts remained in the air, and when the king put his head out of the window to see what was going on, an arrow came and pierced his eye. Christopher turned to him and said, “Mix my blood with some mud and put it on your eye, and you will be healed.” The next day, after offering a short prayer, he was beheaded, and the king doing as he had said recovered the use of his eye immediately. Thereupon he believed, and ordained that those who should blaspheme God or Saint Christopher should be punished with death. 25th July.

Attributes

  • Represented as a giant carrying a tree which is usually a palm, and with the Christ child on his shoulders.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Christopher”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 29 June 2017. <>