ST. CHRISTOPHER, HOLY HELPER

"Who casts the eye on St. Christopher will be unharmed by weakness that day."

This inscription usually stands underneath his picture or at the walls or entrances to the medieval towns, or churches.

St. Christopher is the patron saint of the island Rab and its inhabitants, of travellers and sailors, a protector against misfortune, illness, tempest and hurricane. Stories about him containing elements of folk tale, allegory and word-play upon his name have persisted. To some, Christopher was a peasant (one tradition says that before his conversion he had the head of a dog), whilst to othershe was a prince who, through the intercession of our Lady, was born to a heathen king. Some have set the scene in Syria, some in Canaan and some in Arabia. His name, before his conversion, is given as Offerus, Offro, Adokimus, Reprobus or Reprebus. 

Golden legend

A man of gigantic build and strength, named Reprobus was born in Canaan (Palestine) in 3rd century. This giant looked for the most vigorous and courageous man on Earth to serve him. A king was his first master, but Reprob found out he was afraid of the Satan. Therefore, he left the king to serve the Devil but soon enough discovered  that Devil was afraid of the Jesus Christ and therefore left him too. Christopher's search for Christ was long and hard; eventually he encountered a hermit -- some say it was St Babylas of Antioch -who converts him, and told him that he can serve Christ best by doing well the earthly task for which he was best fitted. So Reprobus became a ferryman, carrying on his broad shoulders the aged and the weak and any traveller who wished cross a nearby river.

One night of storm and driving rain, Reprobus carried over the river a small child who insisted on making the journey at that moment. With each step he took, his burden became heavier; half-way over he felt certain that his strength would fail, and that he and his passenger would sink in the river. When at last he reached the opposite bank, the child told him that he had carried on his shoulders all the sins of the world, and asked him to plant his great walking staff in the ground. At once a wonderful tree springs up miraculously and gave fruit, just like Aaron's cane. Then Christopher recognizes the Christ Child, and sees face to face the King whom he has vowed to serve.

Some legends say that, having borne Christ, he should now bear his name, and so henceforth Offero becomes Christ-Offero.
As the Golden Legend puts it: 'And afterwards he was named Christopher, which is as much as to say bearing Christ.'
Christopher left the service on the riverbank and committed himself to religion. He preached Christ to all who came his way, with such conviction and zeal that the earthly agonies of martyrdom were as nothing to him. He was probed by various temptations - the legend says he was assailed by two harlots who wanted to seduce him and make him leave the faith, but  he converted the two of them.
In the middle ages his picture was to be found at the entrance of churches or at the gates of cities, prompted by the belief that those who gazed upon his image should not that day be a prey to sudden death: and that today, no matter where men may travel, St Christopher should go with them.

In the year 251. in time of Roman emperor Decius, a persecutor of Christians, Christopher ended up on greek island Samos where he was arrested and then wooed to give up Christianity. He was tortured and the taken to the scaffold to be fired at by 40 archers but all 40 missed as the arrows glanced off and returned to the shooters, guided by God's hand. One of the returning arrows went through king's heart. Finally, not knowing how to harm him, he was beheaded.

" Although so little is known about the life of St. Christopher, there is much to be gathered from his experience of carrying Christ across the river. His story represents a message of hope that all Christians are called to bear and to "put on" Christ, by taking up the crosses, given to each of us, in our lives. Christopher bore his "cross" (Christ himself) and eventually suffered martyrdom for the faith, fulfilling the commandment of Christ, "He who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:38). " - source http://orthodoxwiki.org/Christopher_of_Lycia

The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Christopher of Lycea with a Feast Day on May 9 while in western churches his day is commemorated on 25th July.

The box containing Saint's head
ST. CHRISTOPHER - PATRON SAINT OF RAB

Bodily remains of Saint Christopher ended up as relics in numerous churches over the world. The hand ended up in Sibenik, Dalmatia. 
His cranium came to Rab diocese as a gift to Rab's bishop from Constatinopol from Patriarch Nicephorus in 809. To present day it is kept as a precious relic, treasured in gilded box. The cranium got the crown decorated with gems. The crown was according to one, given by the people of Rab and according to others, by queen Elizabeth of Bosnia, Elizabeta Kotromanic (14 ct.)- ( In 1353, Elizabeta Kotromanic became the second wife of the King and later Emperor Louis I d'Anjou the Great, Lajos Nagy, of Hungary, Croatia, Rascia, Poland, etc.)
Bishop Domanus born in Cres, took down the first of many miraculous salvations on Rab after St. Christopher's intercession that happened 9th of May 1705. The others were depicted by bishop Juraj de Hermolais in his work "St. Christopher's miracles".

Today, on St. Christopher's day (25.07.) begins the biggest festivity on the island Rab; RAB FEST Days 25.07.-27.07. with culmination on 27th when the archers' tournament is held. The Saint relic ( the cranium) is held in an gilded case and guarded in the town's museum with the rest of the sacral collection.

More on St. Christopher
Images of the Saint
 
 

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