St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travelers

On 25 July, the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of St. Christopher, Patron Saint of motorists and travelers.

Newsroom (01/08/2022 08:30, Gaudium Press ) St. Christopher is the Patron Saint of motorists and, by extension, travelers. According to Greek legend, St. Christopher was a cannibalistic barbarian, from the tribe of the Cynocephalians, who was converted and engaged in the imperial armies and refused to apostatize, dying under unspeakable tortures.

Serving the most powerful king on earth

Western legend presents St. Christopher differently: a giant with a mania for grandeur. Serving a powerful king who, he supposed, was the greatest on earth, he left him when he heard that Satan was greater and more powerful.

Hearing something about Jesus, who was far superior to Satan, Christopher tried to find out more. He sought enlightenment from a hermit and learned that Our Lord was absolutely the inverse of the devil, appreciating men for their kindness to their neighbour, and not for their greatness.

Crossing the river

Having settled on the banks of a river that was flowing with waters, in order to do good to his fellow men, he offered to cross from one bank to the other to help those who needed it, making use of the immense strength with which he was endowed.

One night, a beautiful Boy asked for the giant’s services. Christopher took him on his shoulders and began to cross the stream.

As he made his way through the waters, the small, tender creature weighed immensely and frighteningly heavy upon him. What did this mean? How heavy he was! Christopher was becoming frail under the weight! One would think he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders! And the giant, gasping and huffing, leaning on the staff that bore the inexplicable weight, after fighting against fatigue, complete fatigue, managed to reach the opposite shore, having taken him an interminable time to reach.

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Carrying Jesus on his shoulders

Wiping the sweat from his flushed face, Christopher, with nostrils flared and gulping profusely the air that had escaped from his lungs, exclaimed to the boy, already on solid ground:

‘The world could not be heavier than you are!’

And the Boy, smiling very sweetly, replied:

‘You have carried on your shoulders MORE than the whole world – you have carried its Creator! I am Jesus whom you serve!

Later, for Jesus whom he had the sublime fortune to carry on his back, the good giant would unwaveringly give his life, regardless of the cruelty of his executioners.

Patron saint of drivers and travelers

St. Christopher was soon invoked by drivers and travelers, and the formula “Christophorum videas, postea tutus eas” became common throughout the ages. And those who were about to travel, in order to do so safely and without hindrance, were advised:

Look to St. Christopher and go safely!

The martyrology says, in a synthesis, that:

In Lycia, St. Christopher was tortured with iron rods under the Emperor Decius, but preserved from a death by fire through the power of Jesus Christ. In the end he was pierced with arrows and martyred by beheading.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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