If you aren’t wearing a Saint Christopher medal, chances are you know someone who is. Saint Christopher necklaces are worn by Catholics around the world, and they consider him the patron saint of protection for travelers. But who is he, and how did he become a saint? Few who wear his medal can tell you his story.

saint christopher necklaceCredit: www.catholicbook.netAncient historical data tells us that Saint Christopher's birth name was Reprobus, and he lived in the land of Canaan. He was a very large man, standing over 7 feet tall, with formidable features, including a face that some accounts say looked like the head of a dog.

His desire in life was to serve the greatest ruler he knew, and so he served the king of Canaan. Until, that is, he learned that the king was afraid of the devil. Seeing the king's fear, Reprobus concluded that the devil must be more powerful than the king. So he left the king’s court, and set off to find the devil.

banditCredit: plixid.comWandering throughout the land, he came across a band of outlaws. The band's leader recognized the advantage of having Reprobus on their team, and so the leader convinced Reprobus that he would be serving the devil if he would join the outlaws. Reprobus agreed to join the group and promised his allegiance to the “devil”, until that is, he saw the “devil” terror-stricken by the stories and signs of Christ. This Christ must be more powerful that the devil, he concluded.

So he left the outlaws to search for Christ. Eventually he met a hermit who was familiar with Christ. When Reprobus asked how he could find him, the hermit replied, “Through fasting and prayer.” Reprobus dismissed his suggestion and asked if there was another way.

The hermit was dumbfounded, but offered another suggestion. He told the giant man that Christ was fond of those who helped others and pointed Reprobus in the direction of a swift flowing river where many people had drowned trying to cross it. Reprobus’s stature and great strength would be a great asset in overcoming the swift current and the hermit suggested that the Christ might look favorably on him helping people cross safely.

saint christopher landscapeCredit: http://www.wikiart.orgReprobus acted on this suggestion and carried people back and forth across the river, day after day for quite some time, saving many lives. One day he carried a young boy whose weight seemed to increase with each step he took to cross the river. By the time he reached the bank on the opposite side, the child's weight had nearly overwhelmed the massive man. He told the child of his exhaustion, and how the child's unexpected weight had felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders.

The boy answered him, telling him that he had indeed carried a great weight across the river. He told him that he was the Christ child, and he bore the weight of the world and all its sins on his own shoulders. That was the unseen weight that Reprobus had felt.

Immediately after telling him that, the boy disappeared. Reprobus now knew that in the act of helping people across the river, he was serving the greatest ruler of his time.

After awhile Reprobus traveled to Lycia where he comforted Christian martyrs. There Roman rulers persecuted him for his Christian beliefs and eventually executed him. He was martyred for his faith around 251a.d..

saint christopher tatooCredit: www.songbirdtattoo.comSince then Catholics throughout the world believe that Saint Christopher is able to intercede on their behalf for protection when traveling. Soldiers, athletes, archers, and even surfers wear his medal and rely on him for safety.

Until 1969 the Roman Catholic Church set aside July 25 each year to pay homage to this martyr. However, due to space limitation on the Catholic calendar and the lack of substantiated historical data about him, Saint Christopher’s day was removed from the calendar. But, he lives on through tradition and the millions who carry his medal on their person.