Christopher died a martyr in Lycia in 251 A.D. during the reign of Decius, a Roman Emperor who conducted the first systematic persecution of Christians. Very little is known about Christopher's life, but many legends have developed around his name.
One of the most popular legends describes the saint as a tall man of tremendous strength who made a living carrying people across a raging river. One day his passenger was a child who grew so heavy as they crossed the river that he feared they would both drown. Christopher was amazed that one so mighty as himself could be overcome by one so small. The child then revealed that he was Christ, and the heaviness was caused by the weight of the world which he bore. The name "Christopher" means "Christ-bearer", and it is no surprise that he is often depicted as carrying a child, who, in turn, is carrying a globe.
It was a common medieval custom to place a large mural of the saint opposite the south door of the church, in belief that the sight of it would safeguard the passer-by from accident that day. In modern times, St. Christopher is considered to be the patron saint of travelers, especially of motorists.
St. Christopher is listed among the "Auxiliary Saints", or the Fourteen Holy Helpers, venerated for the efficacy of their prayers in time of need. His feast day, July 25, was dropped from the Roman Calendar of 1969, but may be observed locally, or in churches which bear his name.
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