ST. CHRISTOPHER
Feast Day:  July 25th
Patronage:  Travel and Travelers.

Before the formal canonization process began in the fifteenth century, many saints were proclaimed by popular
approval.  This was a much faster process but unfortunately many of the saints so named were based on legends,
pagan mythology, or even other religions -- for example, the story of the Buddha traveled west to Europe and he
was "converted" into a Catholic saint!  In 1969, the Church took a long look at all the saints on its calendar to see
if there was historical evidence that that saint existed and lived a life of holiness.  In taking that long look, the
Church discovered that there was little proof that many "saints", including some very popular ones, ever lived.  
Christopher was one of the names that were determined to have a basis mostly in legend. Therefore Christopher
(and others) was dropped from the universal calendar. [2]  

Some saints were considered so legendary that their cult was completely suppressed (including St. Ursula).  
Christopher's cult was not suppressed but it is confined to local calendars (those for a diocese, country,
or so forth). [2]

Saint Christopher is venerated as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman Emperor Decius
(reigned 249–251). [4]

There are several legends associated with the life and death of Saint Christopher which first appeared in Greece and had
spread to France by the 9th century.  The 11th century bishop and poet, Walter of Speyer, gave one version, but the most
popular variations originated from the 13th century Golden Legend (a collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de
Voragine that became a late medieval bestseller.[3]

According to some legendary accounts, Christopher was initially called Reprobus [3] and in another legend called
Offero, a pagan. [1]  He was a Canaanite, who was a well-built, strong man and so tall that he was sometimes referred
to as a giant,[1] with a fearsome face.  While serving the king of Canaan, he took it into his head to go and serve "the
greatest  king there was".  He went to the king who was reputed to be the greatest, but one day he saw the king cross
himself at the mention of the devil.  On thus learning that the king feared the devil, he departed to look for the devil.  
He came across a band of marauders, one of whom declared himself to be the devil, so Christopher decided to serve
him.  But when he saw his new master avoid a wayside cross and found out that the devil feared Christ, he left him and
inquired from people where to find Christ. He met a hermit who instructed him in the Christian faith. [3]  He converted
to Christianity and changed his name to Christoffero which led to the name Christopher, meaning Christ-bearer. [1]

Christopher asked him how he could serve Christ.  When the hermit suggested fasting and prayer, Christopher replied
that he was unable to perform that service.  The hermit then suggested that because of his size and strength Christopher
could serve Christ by assisting people to cross a dangerous river, where they were perishing in the attempt.  The hermit
promised that this service would be pleasing to Christ. [3]

After Christopher had performed this service for some time, a little child asked him to take him across the river.  During
the crossing, the river became swollen and the child seemed as heavy as lead so much that Christopher could scarcely
carry him and found himself in great difficulty. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put
me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The
child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it.  I am Christ your king, whom
you are serving by this work."  The child then vanished. [3]

Early in AD250 the Roman Emperor Decius issued an edict for the suppression of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  
Christopher is listed as a martyr who was beheaded during these persecutions of 3rd century Rome. [1]

Saint Christopher is 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. [1]


[1]  
Catholic Saints Info - http://www.catholic-saints.info/patron-saints/saint-christopher.htm
[2]  Catholic Online - http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=36
Copyright 1996-2000 Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.
[3]  
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Christopher
[4]  Catholic Online - http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=3706
249-251
Various reasons have been
assigned for the emperor's
hatred of Christianity, some
seeing in it an evidence of innate
cruelty, others a desire to be
avenged on the friends of his
predecessor; but there can be
little doubt that the main motives
for his hostility were political,
conceived not in the form of
fanaticism but in purposes of
political expediency.  The
scope of the anti-Christian
legislation of Decius was
broader than that of his
predecessors and much more
far-reaching in its effects.  The
text of his edicts has not
survived but their general tenor
can be judged from the manner
in which they were executed.  The
object of the emperor was not the
extermination of the Christians,
but the complete extinction of
Christianity itself.  Bishops and
priests were unconditionally
punished with death.  To all others
was given  an opportunity to
recant and, to ensure the
abandonment of Christianity,
all were compelled to submit to
some test of their loyalty to
Paganism, such as the offering of
sacrifice, the pouring of libations,
or the burning of incense to the
idols. [4]  

http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.
php?id=3706
Prayer for a Safe Journey

Lord, we humbly ask you to give Your Almighty
protection to all travelers.

Accept our fervent and sincere prayers that through
travel may reach their destination safe and sound.

Grant Your divine guidance and infinite wisdom to
all who operate automobiles, trains, planes and
boats.  Inspire them with due sense of duty and
knowledge and help them guide those entrusted in
their care to complete their travel safely.

We thank you.  Oh Lord, for Your great mercy
and unending love to all mankind and for extending
Your arm of protection to all travelers.

Amen

The Roman Catholic Parish of
St. Christopher and St. Margaret Mary
Staten Island, New York   10306
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