The Story of Saint Christopher

Many people carry a St. Christopher medal for good luck while traveling. But do you know who Christopher was?

Turns out not much is known about this mysterious saint. He is usually acknowledged as a tall 12th century man with a long beard, although there was also a 3rd century Greek martyr by the same name.

His name comes from the Greek christos, or Christ, and pherein, which means to bear. So he is the one who carries Christ. There’s a story of how Christopher once carried the Christ child across a tumultuous river. Christopher was surprised to find that Christ was much, much heavier than Christopher expected the little boy to be. In fact, he increased in weight as Christopher crossed the river. That’s because Christ was carrying the weight of the world’s sins.

Because Christopher safely carried the child across the river, he became the patron saint of travelers. Some stories claim that Christ turned Christopher’s staff into a living tree. He’s also invoked to protect believers from plagues, storms and other dangers. Sometimes this story is attributed to the 3rd century martyr.

Unfortunately for fans of Saint Christopher, in the 1960s the Catholic church got serious about researching its saints. They did not find enough proof of the later Christopher’s life to keep him on the roster of saints. The third century martyr named Christopher remained, but the 12th century saint was eliminated.

However, many people still cherished the saint, whether or not sufficient proof of his deeds was found. Travelers, ferrymen and sailors still wear St. Christopher medals to protect them from troubles while traveling. And they still hold dear his feast day of July 25. Except in Greece, where they celebrate it on March 9.  People in Italy and Mexico tend to remain especially devoted to the deposed saint.

Saint Christopher’s emblems are the Christ child, a staff and a tree. The Caribbean island commonly known as St. Kitts, located 46 miles west of Antigua, is officially called St. Christopher’s Island.

At Ben David, we carry on the St. Christopher tradition with a variety of lucky medals. With the holiday travel season coming up, this is the perfect time to get a special St. Christopher medal for you or a loved one. Hang it from your car mirror, put it in your suitcase or stow it with your passport.

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