St. Christopher, Martyr
HE suffered martyrdom under Decius in Lycia, and is honoured on this day in the Martyrology which bears the name of St. Jerom, and in other western Calendars, but is commemorated by the Greeks and other Oriental nations on the 9th of May. The Mosarabic Breviary, attributed to St. Isidore, mentions the translation of his relics to Toledo, whence they were brought into France, and are at present shown enshrined at the abbey of St. Denys near Paris. He seems to have taken the name of Christopher upon the like motive that St. Ignatius would be called Theophorus, to express his ardent love for his Redeemer, by which he always carried him in his breast as his great and only good, his inestimable treasure, and the object of all his affections and desires. There seem to be no other grounds than this name for the vulgar notion of his great stature, the origin of which seems to have been merely allegorical, as Baronius observes, and as Vida has beautifully expressed in an epigram on this saint. 1 The enormous statues of St. Christopher, still to be seen in many Gothic cathedrals, expressed his allegorical wading through the sea of tribulations, by which the faithful meant to signify the many sufferings through which he arrived at eternal life. They are monuments of the devotion of our ancestors to this saint, whose intercession they implored especially against pestilential distempers. St. Gregory the Great mentions a monastery in Sicily which bore the name of St. Christopher. See Pinius the Bollandist, t. 6, p. 125. 1
“Christophore, infixum quòd eum usque in corde gerebas,
Pictores Christum dant tibi ferre humeris,” &c.
Vida, Hym. 26, t. 2, p. 150.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.