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Saint Christopher (Greek: Άγιος Χριστόφορος) is a saint venerated by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, listed as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman emperor Decius (reigned 249–251).
The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Saint Christopher on May 9th. The Tridentine Calendar allowed a commemoration of Saint Christopher on 25 July only in private Masses. This restriction was lifted later (see General Roman Calendar as in 1954). While the Roman Catholic Church still approves devotion to him, listing him in the Roman Martyrology among the saints venerated on 25 July, it removed his feast day from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969. At that time the church declared that this commemoration was not of Roman tradition, in view of the relatively late date (about 1550) and limited manner in which it was accepted into the Roman calendar.
Legends of St. Christopher
Although the Catholic Church suggests that almost nothing certain is known about the life and death of St. Christopher, there are several legends attributed to him. These include the story in which Christopher carries a small, yet almost unbearably heavy, child across a river. The child is later revealed to be Jesus Christ. It is this popular story from which Christopher became the patron saint of travelers, and it is the source for the derivation of his name. The Greek word Christophoros translates into "bearer of the anointed one."  He is also known as Offerus, although this may simply be a back-formation of (Christ)ophorus.
According to legend, during the reign of the Emperor Decius, a man named Reprebus or Reprobus (root of English "reprobate") was captured in combat against tribes to the west of Egypt and was assigned to the numerus Marmaritarum or "Unit of the Marmaritae", which suggests an otherwise-unidentified "Marmaritae" Berber tribe of Cyrenaica. He was of enormous size and terrifying demeanor, being a cannibal with cynocephaly (the head of a dog instead of a man), like all the Marmaritae. Reprebus accepted baptism and began to preach the faith. Eventually, the governor of Antioch (or in some versions, the Emperor himself) decreed that Reprebus was to be executed for his faith. He miraculously survived many attempts at execution, eventually permitting himself to be martyred after converting multitudes. His body was then taken back to Alexandria by Peter of Attalia.
 The Golden Legend - The Life of Saint Christopher
Christopher was a Canaanite 12 cubits (18 ft) tall and with a fearsome face. While serving the king of Canaan, he took it into his head to go and serve the greatest king there was. He went to the king who was reputed to be the greatest, but one day he saw the king cross himself at the mention of the devil. On thus learning that the king feared the devil, he departed to look for the devil. He came across a band of marauders, one of whom declared himself to be the devil, so Christopher decided to serve him. But when he saw his new master avoid a wayside cross and found out that the devil feared Christ, he left him and enquired from people where to find Christ. He met a hermit who instructed him in the Christian faith. Christopher asked him how he could serve Christ. When the hermit suggested fasting and prayer, Christopher replied that he was unable to perform that service. The hermit then suggested that because of his size and strength Christopher could serve Christ by assisting people to cross a dangerous river, where many were perishing in the attempt. The hermit promised that this service would be pleasing to Christ.
After Christopher had performed this service for some time, a little child asked him to take him across the river. During the crossing, the river became swollen and the child seemed as heavy as lead, so much that Christopher could scarcely carry him and found himself in great difficulty. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." The child then vanished.
Christopher later visited the city of Lycia and there comforted the Christians who were being martyred. Brought before the local king, he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. The king tried to win him by riches and by sending two beautiful women to tempt him. Christopher converted the women to Christianity, as he had already converted thousands in the city. The king ordered him to be killed. Various attempts failed, but finally Christopher was decapitated.
 Historical verifiability
The first hurdle is the idea that he was a dog-headed cannibal. This can be understood in the light of the practice of the time, which was to describe all people outside the "civilized" (Greco-Roman-Persian) world as cannibals, or dog-headed albeit metaphorically. A later generation could then mistake a metaphor or hyperbole for a literal statement.
The man in question is also said to have been assigned to a military unit made up of Marmaritae. The Marmaritae were the independent tribes of Marmarica (now in modern Libya), who would have been pushed to the frontier region after Roman settlement. Since he was from a frontier tribe, describing him as being from the land of dog-headed people would have been a literary convention of the day.
Finally, we have the statements that St. Christopher was killed in Antioch and his body taken elsewhere by a bishop. St. Christopher could not have been killed in the fourth year of the Emperor Decius, as Decius only reigned for two years. However, before ascending to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire, Maximinus was known as "Daza" before rising to power. Unfortunately, there is no record of a visit to Antioch by Maximinus in the fourth year of his reign (308). It is, of course, possible that St. Christopher was executed in Antioch during this year by the order of a lower authority; a personal trial before one of the Caesars could be a later embellishment.
Unfortunately, none of this information permits identification of the actual man. Christopher is simply Greek for "Christ-bearer", and it can refer, as in the Eastern tradition and in Jacobus de Voragine's explanation of the name, to St. Christopher's willingness to "take up the cross" - a common metaphor for converting to Christianity. Reprobus simply means "wicked person", so saying that Reprobus became Christopher amounts to saying "A wicked person became a Christian." Furthermore, no place claims to be the burial site of St. Christopher, which would be very unusual for a martyr.
It has been speculated that St. Christopher could be the same man known as Saint Menas among the Copts, for whom a 4th century burial site is known but has no verifiable details about his life or martyrdom attached to him. However, there is no conclusive link.
 Veneration and patronage
 Eastern Orthodox liturgy
Christopher, Great Martyr (Kontakion Tone 4): Your physique was overwhelming and your face horrifying. / You willingly suffered trauma from your own people. / Men and women tried to arouse consuming fires of passion in you, / but instead they followed you to your martyrdom. / You are our strong protector, o great martyr Christopher!
 Relics and medals
After having been held in Constantinople, the relics and the head of the saint were moved to the island of Rab in Croatia. When Normans tried to invade the islands and besieged the city, its inhabitants placed the saint's relics on the city walls. Miraculously, the winds changed and the bows and ships were blown away from the city. One of the city's largest medieval squares is named after the saint.
Christopher is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and the patron saint of travelers. Medallions with his name and image are worn to show devotion to a certain saint and ask for that saint's prayers. They are frequently displayed in automobiles. In French a widespread phrase for such medals is "Regarde St Christophe et va-t-en rassuré" ("Look at St Christopher and go on reassured"); Saint Christopher medals and holy cards in Spanish have the phrase "Si en San Cristóbal confías, de accidente no morirás" ("If you trust St. Christopher, you won't die in an accident"). In Austria an annual collection for providing vehicles for the use of missionaries is taken up on a Sunday close to the feast of Saint Christopher, asking people to contribute a very small sum of money for every kilometre that they have traveled safely during the year.
 General patronage
Christopher has always been a widely popular saint, being especially revered by athletes, mariners, ferrymen, and travelers. He is revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He holds patronage of things related to travel and travelers: against lightning; against pestilence; archers; bachelors; boatmen; bookbinders; epilepsy; floods; fruit dealers; fullers; gardeners; for a holy death; mariners; market carriers; motorists and drivers; sailors; storms; surfers; toothache; and transportation workers.
 Patronage of places
Christopher is the patron saint of the following places: Baden, Germany; Barga, Italy; Brunswick, Germany; Mecklenburg, Germany; Rab, Croatia; Roermond, The Netherlands; Saint Christopher's Island (Saint Kitts); Toses in Catalonia, Spain; Agrinion, Greece; Vilnius, Lithuania;Havana, Cuba; and Paete, Laguna, Philippines.