|Saint Christopher, Martyr
- 3rd Century?
The Golden Legend disseminated widely the now famous story of St. Christopher's encounter with the Christ Child: a giant of "twelve cubits of length," he was advised by a monk to serve Christ by carrying people across an otherwise unfordable stream. One day he took a small child on his shoulders who grew heavier and heavier as he crossed the stream. The child then informed him, "thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee, but thou hast borne him that created and made all the world, upon thy shoulders." The Christ Child then blessed St. Christopher's staff in such a way that it would bear flower and fruit, a miracle that would later enable him to persuade thousands of Lycians to convert. As a result, the King of Lycia ordered him put to death.
Painted and sculptured portraits of St. Christopher almost invariably show him in the stream with the child on his shoulders and his heavy staff in his hand (exception). The paintings sometimes include the monk (example). In one German statuette, the staff has already flowered. Frescoes of the saint in churches (such as the one at left) tend to be extraordinarily large, because an indulgence was available to pilgrims who simply looked upon an image of him while on their pilgrimage.
Feast day: July 25 (suppressed in 1969)
At left, Ghirlandaio fresco
Painting at San Ignazio, RomeHagiography:
Golden Legend #100: html or pdf
Passion of St. Christopher, BHL 1764 (cached)
Passion of St. Christopher, BHL 1766 (cached)
Irish Passion of St. Christopher (cached)
Verse life from the South English Legendary, in Stouck, 568-78