By Kelly Legg
A canonized saint that is honored as a special protector is known as a patron saint. A patron saint may also be a benefactor of persons in a certain occupation or a guardian of those who bear the saint’s name. A patron saint may be invoked to intercede with God for help in a time of special need.
This month, we are learning some interesting history about Saint Christopher. St. Christopher is a legendary 3rd-century Christian martyr, adopted as the patron saint of travelers and is invoked against storms, plagues and sudden death.
There are several legends about St. Christopher, but the most well known legend tells of Christopher who helped travelers cross a dangerous river. On one particular day, a child appeared to Christopher and asked to be carried across. When Christopher put the child on his shoulders he found the child was unbelievably heavy. The child, according to the legend, was the young Jesus carrying the weight of the whole world.
St. Christopher was traditionally represented as a giant, and is often shown as such in art, carrying the Christ-child on his shoulders. He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
St. Christopher is often represented in Christian art as wading across a swollen stream bearing the infant Christ on his shoulders and a pilgrim’s staff in his hand. This image is traditionally placed in churches so that those who enter will see him. It is thought that anyone seeing an image of St. Christopher will not die that day.
Early in AD 250, the Roman Emperor Decius issued an edict for the suppression of Christianity in the Roman Empire and St. Christopher was listed as a martyr, killed during the persecutions of 3rd century Rome.
Stay tuned next month as we learn about Saint Francis Xavier.