Saint Christopher, like many saints, is a mix of truth and parable–a story meant to teach a lesson. The truth is, he did live in the 3rd century and was extremely tall–reports vary from seven feet to eighteen feet! which is likely where the legend begins. He worked for the King of Canaan because he wanted to work for the greatest king of all. But when he saw the king cross himself to ward off the devil, he left the palace –seeing that the devil was greater because the king feared him. He found the devil leading a group of thieves and he followed them awhile. But when the devil avoided a cross, he left him too–understanding that the Person of the cross was greater because the devil feared Him.
Christopher became Christian and was told to serve the Lord with fasting and prayer. With simple honesty he said he felt he could do neither. His instructor told him then to use his body and strength to carry people across the river that had become too deep for anyone of normal stature to cross. This he did for several years to serve Christ. But one day he carried a child so heavy, he barely made it to the opposite shore. It was the Christ Child, who said He carried the weight of the sin of the world.
Christopher was so upset with this reality that he became an evangelist to convert sinners. But the pagan kings demanded that he stop preaching. He refused. After many unsuccessful attempts to kill him, he was beheaded in 251 A.D. He has been the patron of travelers for many centuries since, but because his story is mixed with legend (his name conveniently translates “Bearer of the Anointed One” or “Christ Bearer”), he was omitted from the Catholic calendar of saint memorials when it was revised in the 1970s. Yet he continues to be popular and his feast day, when celebrated, is July 25, one day after Saint Cristina.
My son Christopher is sensitive, often appearing to carry the weight of other people’s problems on his shoulders. He has a strong, six foot stature. He is usually the first person everyone thinks of when refrigerators, bulky furniture, and heavy equipment need to be moved or fixed. He is always willing to help, using the body God gave him to give back to God.
[Photo accessed 7 Nov 15 at Catholic Encyclopedia at this link]