The Story Behind The St. Christopher Necklace
Saint Christopher is arguably one of the most well-known religious figures in the world; commonly worshipped in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholicism, as well as many other branches of Christianity.
Throughout history, he is present in many aspects of popular culture including famous relics, books and even classic art. In fact, in England there are more paintings and statues of Saint Christopher than any other Saint, except for the Virgin Mary. Today you can find many schools, hospices, streets and other important places named after the Christian Saint. He’s also known as the patron saint of travellers, children, sailors and, as of the 20th century, motorists.
Who was Saint Christopher?
In most denominations of Christianity, Saint Christopher was recognised as a martyr killed during the reign of Roman Emperor Decius, in 251 AD.
One of the most famous and widely-believed stories is that Saint Christopher grew up looking for the most powerful leader to follow. He briefly served the leader of a group of thieves, who referred to himself as the Devil, before witnessing his master avoid a holy cross on the side of the road out of fear. It was at this point that Saint Christopher discovered there was something more powerful than the Devil; Christianity.
Following this discovery, Saint Christopher chose to devote his life to Christianity. He spent several years helping people to cross a dangerous river that was renown for taking the lives of many travellers.
One day, a child approached him and asked for help crossing the river. Whilst helping the child across, the river started to rise and the child got heavier with each step that Saint Christopher took; so much so that he feared for both of their lives. Upon reaching the other side of the river, he asked the child why he was so heavy. The child explained that he was actually Christ and that when Saint Christopher carried him, he also carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.
It is believed that many people in the local area converted to Christianity following this encounter. As a result of this, Saint Christopher was imprisoned by Roman Emperor Decius and was later beheaded.
Whilst there are many variations of Saint Christopher’s story, most of them agree on several things; that he was a very tall man, in some cases depicted as a giant, that he died sometime around the 3rd century and that he helped Christ across a dangerous river.
How is Saint Christopher remembered?
In western culture, Saint Christopher’s Feast Day was celebrated on July 25th, whilst in eastern culture this fell on May 9th. This was until 1969 when Pope Paul VI chose to remove Saint Christopher, and several other holy names, from the Roman calendar as their legitimacy couldn’t be confirmed.
Regardless, Saint Christopher is still known as one of the most famous religious figures today. Along with cross and crucifix pendants, one of the most popular types of jewellery in the UK and around the world is the St. Christopher necklace. On many of these pieces of jewellery, Saint Christopher is depicted as a man with a child over his shoulder and a staff in his hand.
Traditionally, travellers of Roman Catholic descent would wear a St. Christopher pendant to show devotion and as a request for his blessing. It was widely believed that wearing this necklace would give them added protection throughout their travels.
This tradition still remains popular today; often worn by many Catholics and other denominations of Christianity for protection whilst travelling and to show commitment to God. It’s also very common to wear St. Christopher necklaces in places where he is the patron saint; such as Saint Kitts, Havana (Cuba), Brunswick (Germany), Barga (Italy) and many other cities around the world.