Saint Christopher is venerated by several Christian denominations as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman emperor Decius (reigned 249–251) or alternatively under the emperor Maximinus Daia (reigned 308–313). There appears to be confusion due to the similarity in names “Decius” and “Daia”. Churches and monasteries were named after him by the 7th century.
His most famous legend tells that he carried a child, who was unknown to him, across a river before the child revealed himself as Christ. Therefore, he is the patron saint of travellers, and small images of him are often worn around the neck, on a bracelet, carried in a pocket, or placed in vehicles by Christians. Probably the most important source of the historicity of Christophers is a stone inscription published by Louis Duchesne in 1878.
The copy of the stone inscription and the first publication took place on 7 April 1877 by Matthieu Paranikas in the Anatolia magazine in Constantinople. The stone of the size of 2 x 1 m was found in the ruins of a church in the ancient Chalcedon. The inscription bears witness to the laying of the foundation stone, the construction and the consecration of a church in the name of ‘Saint Christopher’s Martyrdom.’
The inscription also bears witness to the chronological dates from the laying of the foundation stone to the consecration of the church; the construction of this Christophorus church dates back exactly to the time of the 4th Ecumenical Council, the Council of Chalcedon. The inscription also mentions the names of the state ministers of the Byzantine Empire and those church ministers who were involved in the laying of the foundation stone, the construction or the consecration of the church. The inscription reads as follows:
With God was laid the cornerstone of the martyrdom of Saint Christopher in the third indiction in the month of May under the Consulate of the illustrious Protogenes and Asturius under the Emperor Theodosius II and Bishop Eulalios of Chalcedon. But it was built by the venerable chamberlain Euphemidus, and the consecration took place at the end of the fifth indiction in the month of September, on the 22nd., under the consulate of the illustrious Sporacius and Herculanus.
Fresco Saint Christophorus carries the Jesus child, Hoher Dom Mariä Heimsuchung, Augsburg Cathedral. The construction of this church, erected in honour of Saint Christopher, lasted from May 450 to Sept 22nd 452, where the consecration and dedication took place. The names of the mentioned personalities, the consuls, of Bishop Eulalius, are known from the history of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which met during the construction period on the same ground to which our inscription belongs (Chalzedon 451). Theodosius II died two months after construction began. The church inscriptions commemorate the cubicularius Euphemius, often the founder or builder as the architect or construction leader.
Not far from the Church of St Christopher, which was under construction at the time, was the Basilica of St Euphemia, in which the Council took place; the consuls Protogenes and Sporacius, mentioned in the stone inscription, are mentioned in the Council Acts. This inscription attests to the veneration of Christophorus in the 5th century in Chalcedony and, consequently, the existence of Christophorus, who probably in the period of the Great Persecution in the 4th century suffered the martyrdom.
Then for the year 553 a bishop of Arkadiopolis in Lydia is testified, who had taken the name Christophorus. A nunnery in Galatia was consecrated to Saint Christopher around the year 600. The Roman Martyrology remembers him on 25 July. The Tridentine Calendar commemorated him on the same day only in private Masses.
By 1954 his commemoration had been extended to all Masses, but it was dropped in 1970 as part of the general reorganization of the calendar of the Roman rite as mandated by the motu proprio, Mysterii Paschalis. His commemoration was described to be 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, but his feast continues to be observed locally and in parishes and shrines throughout the world dedicated to his patronage.
St. Christopher is a widely popular saint, especially revered by athletes, mariners, ferrymen, and travellers. He is revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He holds patronage of things related to travel and travellers against lightning and pestilence and patronage for archers; bachelors; boatmen; soldiers; bookbinders; epilepsy; floods; fruit dealers; fullers; gardeners; a holy death; mariners; market carriers; motorists and drivers; sailors; storms; surfers; toothache; mountaineering; and transportation workers.
Christopher is the patron saint of many places, including: Baden, Germany; Barga, Italy; Brunswick, Germany; Mecklenburg, Germany; Rab, Croatia; Roermond, The Netherlands; Saint Christopher’s Island (Saint Kitts); Toses in Catalonia, Spain; Mondim de Bastos, Portugal; Agrinion, Greece; Vilnius, Lithuania; Riga, Latvia; Havana, Cuba; San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic; Paete, Laguna, Philippines and Tivim, Goa, India.