St. Christopher (Third century)

Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
All that is known of St. Christopher is that he died a martyr in Asia Minor in the third century. A church was built in his honor at Chaloedon as early as 450. His popularity grew very great in western Europe, as a patron for travelers. Pope Paul VI removed his feast from the calendar of the Roman Church to make room for more recent saints.

The name Christopher means "One who carries Christ." The legend that has grown up about this saint in the West is that he was a very strong man who lived by a ford in a river and helped travelers cross to the other side. One day a child came to the river and asked for his help. When they reached the middle of the river, the child on his shoulders began to feel as heavy as the entire world. It was then that Christopher learned the child was Christ and that he had been carrying the world. The child then disappeared.

Legends are suspect in scientific circles, but they often carry truths too deep for other mediums. The legend of the Christ-bearer expresses such a truth. The Christ we worship is a Christ we serve or offend in the people who surround us. This Christ belongs to every race and comes to us when we least expect Him. He is often very heavy and difficult to recognize. It is this Christ who gave us the command to love one another, and that love has no bounds.

While St. Christopher no longer has a feast on July 25 -- at least in the Roman Church -- it is doubtful that his name or legend will disappear very quickly. We must all be Christopher.

His feast day is July 25.


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