ST. CHRISTOPHER, M.
HE suffered martyrdom under Decius in Lycia, and
is honored 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.*
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. Saint Gregory the Great mentions a monastery in Sicily
which bore the name of St. Christopher. See Pinius the Bollandist, t.
6, p. 125.