Stories of Saints and Martyrs - Jetta S. Wolff

St. Christopher

July 25; A.D. 254

In old Gothic churches there is often seen among the carved stonework the figure of a man of great height, bearing upon his shoulders the Infant Saviour: it is the statue of St. Christopher—the CHRIST-bearer. His name is not in our calendar, but the story or legend of his life is very beautiful.

St. Christopher was at first a pagan, but he had always a good, kind heart, and as he was very big and strong—much bigger than most other men—he gave up his time to helping passengers across a ferry which was deep and dangerous.

One day as he lay asleep in his lodge by the river side, he thought he heard the voice of a child begging him to bear him across the stream. He rose at once, lifted the child upon his shoulder, and stepped into the river. But, lo, the water rose and swelled, becoming every moment higher and harder to pass through, while at the same time the child seemed to grow heavier and heavier, as St. Christopher went farther into the stream. The man stooped in pain under the weight, and he was full of fear lest both he and the child should be drowned. But he struggled on, and the other side was reached. Then the child told him He was JESUS CHRIST the King, and the next morning when Christopher arose, he found the staff he had leant upon as he passed through the waters had blossomed like a palm, and was covered with leaves, flowers, and fruit.

He prepared without delay for Baptism, became a sincere Christian, and before long gave up his life for his faith. This is the story. Much of it is what we call an allegory, that is, a story meant to show some great truth. The stream swollen and hard to pass through represents earthly life—life full of trial and temptation as it must always be for the earnest Christian. But bravely bearing JESUS in their hearts and His Cross upon their shoulders, those who are faithful and strong reach at length the shores of heaven, there to reap the fruit of their good works, and to find that "inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these little ones, ye have done it unto Me."