What Is the Meaning of the Saint Christopher Medal?

by Darlene Zagata
St. Christopher is the Patron Saint against sudden death.

St. Christopher is the Patron Saint against sudden death.

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Catholics often pray to the saints for intercession on their behalf. St. Christopher is one of the most popular saints. St. Christopher is the Patron Saint of certain professions and even places, but he is best known as the Patron Saint of travel.

History

Little is known about the life of St. Christopher, and it is uncertain whether the information we have is correct. St. Christopher was supposedly born to a heathen king from the land of Canaan or possibly Arabia. St. Christopher, called Offerus, resolved to serve only the strongest and bravest. He was a man of extraordinary size and strength. Various sources describe him as having a stature of 7 ½ to 12 feet tall. Although the date of St. Christopher’s birth is unknown, he died a martyr in the 3rd century, after converting thousands to Christianity.

Legend

According to legend, St. Christopher served the new king until he saw the king make the sign of the cross and flee in fear at the mention of the devil. St. Christopher then sought out the devil and served him until he noticed that the devil feared the cross and Jesus. He continued to search for the greatest king and one day met a hermit, who told him about the Christian faith. The hermit told St. Christopher that because of his great size; he could please God by carrying people across a dangerous river. St. Christopher did so, in service to God. One day, he carried a child across the river and noticed that the child got heavier and heavier. The child told him that he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and the one who created the world. The child announced himself to St. Christopher as Christ, his king. That is how St. Christopher became the Patron Saint of travelers.

Medals

One of the most common St. Christopher medals depicts the saint carrying the Christ child on his shoulders across turbulent waters, with the words “Saint Christopher Protect Us.” People often wear medals as pendants in devotion to Saint Christopher and to invoke his blessing. St. Christopher is viewed as a saint of protection, particularly for protection during travel and long voyages. Statues, medals and pictures of St. Christopher are often placed in vehicles for protection from car accidents. St. Christopher is also the Patron Saint of gardeners, sailors and transportation workers. He is invoked for protection against lightning, storms, pestilence, epilepsy and even toothaches. Statues of St. Christopher were once placed in front of churches, dwellings and bridges. The statues bore inscriptions that said whoever looked upon the statue of St. Christopher would not faint or fall that day.

Canonization

Proclamation of saints was once based on popular approval. A formal canonization process did not begin until the fifteenth century. Many martyrs were proclaimed saints even though there was little historical evidence to document their holiness, or even that they existed at all. In 1969, the Church reviewed the calendar of saints and discovered that there was no evidence of existence for many of the saints, including St. Christopher. As a result, St. Christopher, among others was dropped from the list. However, this action did little to dampen the popularity of St. Christopher. Many followers of St. Christopher still invoke his blessings and protection as the Patron Saint of travel.

About the Author

Darlene Zagata has been a professional writer since 2001, specializing in health, parenting and pet care. She is the author of two books and a contributing author to several anthologies. Zagata attended the Laurel Business Institute to study in the medical assistant/secretarial program. She earned her associate degree through the U.S. Career Institute.

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