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Who Is St. Christopher?

St. Christopher was depicted in early religious art as having the head of a dog. He was a large man, originating from the land of Canaan. Apparently, in his lifetime or soon after, Canaan was associated with canines, and so, St. Christopher has the head of a dog in Byzantine art. His message to us in these times is still relevant: that he bears witness to the things that were, and that the things that happen now, are equally important, and in many ways, the same.

While St. Christopher is named as such for being the “Christ Carrier”, based on the history that a child he carried on his back across a river was the Christ, I believe he is a standard for our responsibility to carry others’ burdens.

The Orthodox icon of St-Christopher presents him as a warrior cynocephalus, a dog-headed man from Lycea. Sometimes he is also of gigantic size as well. According to his tradition, he was a Roman soldier taken from the far end of the world who converted and was martyred by an Emperor. (

He is referenced in literature: “A Cristofre on his breast of silver shene, ” Chaucer wrote in The Canterbury Tales; and in film, such as 2005’s Crash in which a habitual car thief uses his trusty St. Christopher medal as a good-luck charm.

Christopher has proven his resilience, growing in popularity over the centuries and withstanding suspicious historians who have questioned his validity.

The Wounded Wanderer

He was a man of many names, Offerus being one of them. Born in the third century in Asia Minor, son of a king, he would grow to be a restless young man of considerable size. The early years of his life were spent in search of riches, of purpose, of a cause worthy of his allegiance.

St. Christopher reminds us that, in our own way, we carry Christ on our shoulders and in our hearts across mighty rivers.

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