What Is the Meaning of the Saint Christopher Medal?

Written by lindsey leach
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What Is the Meaning of the Saint Christopher Medal?
St. Christopher was the patron saint of travellers. (Smartbride.com)

St. Christopher is well known as the patron saint of travellers, and his name means "Christ-bearer." Although decanonized in the late 20th century by the Roman Catholic Church, his medals are still worn. He was believed to have lived in the third century during the reign of Decius.

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History

The legend of St. Christopher attributed to the medal often worn by Catholics or Orthodox Christians is the story of a tall, robust man who once served a great king. Seeing the king cross himself at the mention of the devil, Christopher left his service to seek out Satan, who was obviously stronger than the king who feared him. Christopher found a band of criminals, and among them was a man who claimed to be the devil. Christopher offered his services to the man but not for long because soon the devil was seen avoiding a cross. Christopher realised that the devil feared Christ, so he left his service and came upon a hermit in prayer. The hermit told Christopher that in order to serve Jesus he could pray and fast, but Christopher did not think this would suit him. As an alternative, the hermit suggested that because of his size Christopher might do well helping people across a dangerous river. This Christopher did for some time.

One day a small child arrived to be carried across. Christopher took the child upon his shoulders, and as he crossed the river, the child grew heavier until Christopher was almost unable to carry him and feared he would drown. When he asked the child why he was so heavy, the child revealed himself as Jesus Christ. He replied that he was heavy with the weight of the world's sins.

Christopher successfully got the Christ child across the water and was rewarded by having his staff turned into a tree.

Significance

Since St. Christopher carried the heavy burden of Christ across a river, he is entrusted as protector of all travellers. Travellers believe their safety is ensured because despite the weight of the world's sins weighing down the child and thus bearing heavily upon Christopher, he still managed to get Jesus safely across.

Function

This medal is not only worn to protect travellers but is said also to be protection against lightening, toothache, pestilence, flood and epilepsy. St. Christopher is also the patron saint of boatmen, fruit dealers, book binders, bachelors and holy death. The medal is believed to protect its wearer.

Identification

The St. Christopher medal depicts a middle-aged man with a beard. Upon his shoulders sits a child representing Christ, and in his hand is a staff. Encircling the picture of the saint is the Latin inscription "Svts. Christophorvs Protector Noster," which means Saint Christopher Our Protector. Sometimes the text is in English.

Insight

While St. Christopher's medal is still worn today, he is not as widely recognised as a saint as he once was. He was believed to have died in Lycia in 251 A.D. While he is not listed on the Catholic calendar any longer, his feast day is July 25.

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