The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection.
Although St. Christopher is not included in this Collection, his story is significant and included with Father Kunst’s commentaries.
It’s Okay to Keep Praying to St. Christopher
Even an occasional reader of my columns will quickly conclude that I am interested in the saints. I love them because I love history, but even more because the saints are the Gospels lived. They are the true herof our faith. They are our examples in being disciples of Jesus Christ.
One saint who is wildly popular also has a big disadvantage, and that is St. Christopher. He is disadvantaged because he has a terrible and false rumor that dogs him, and that rumor is that he was “de-canonized,” that he was proclaimed by the church as no longer being a saint.
That rumor is hogwash.
The Catholic Church has no such process of de-canonization. There is no ceremony at the Vatican in which the pope undeclares saints. That is simply ridiculous.
What people mistake as “de-canonization” occurred in 1969, when Ven. Pope Paul VI cleaned out the liturgical calendar.
Prior to 1969, there was a superabundance of liturgical feast days of saints, so that most days had multiple saints’ feasts. Pope Paul removed many saints from the calendar to focus only on the saints who had a universal appeal and were well documented.
St. Christopher, a saint from very early times, had insufficient authentic documentation about the details of his life, so he was removed (with many others) from the liturgical calendar, not “de-canonized.”
The story of St. Christopher (whose feast day is July 25) is steeped in legend. Born in the third century to pagan parents, Christopher, whose pagan name was Offerus, became a giant of a man who was resolved to serve only the strongest power.
He bound himself to the service of a pagan king who was dreadfully afraid of the demonic, so Offerus switched his allegiance to the devil, whom he discovered was afraid of the cross of Christ. Eventually this led to Offerus’ conversion and baptism, since Christ is the supreme power.
In his new life as a Christian, Christopher decided to offer his service to his neighbor in a unique way. Thanks to his size and strength, he acted as a transporter of people across a raging river where a bridge was lacking.
One day, as the newly named Christopher was transporting a small child across the river, the child became heavier and heavier. The child informed Christopher that he was Jesus, who was carrying the weight of the world.
As proof, the child Jesus told Christopher to thrust his walking staff into the ground. The next day, the staff became a palm tree! This miracle attracted many people to the Christian faith. This angered the pagan king Christopher formerly served, so he imprisoned the saint, eventually beheading him. The name “Christopher” appropriately means “Christ-bearer.”
There is no doubt that there was a martyred St. Christopher from the early centuries of the church. Many records confirming his existence attest to this fact. But the details of his life are wanting.
Hence, in the following centuries, the story of this little-known saint was embellished, as many saints’ stories at the time were. The oldest known picture of St. Christopher can be found at the Monastery of St. Catherine at the base of Mt. Sinai in Egypt. This image goes all the way back to the early sixth century.
A wonderful image of the saint can be found in the church of San Clemente in Rome, showing Christopher carrying the Christ child, who in turn is carrying the globe.
There was once a popular tradition of having his image either in painted or statue form at the entrances of all churches due to the belief that anyone who looked at his image would not die that day. That of course, is more superstition than healthy piety, but it does shed light on the saint’s great popularity over the centuries.
For obvious reasons, St. Christopher is the patron saint of travel, and you can still easily find images of him for use in cars seeking his intercession and protection.
St. Christopher is a real saint. He was not de-canonized, so we readily seek his protection in our daily travels.
St. Christopher, pray for us!