The Holy Martyr Christopher

Commemorated on May 9

      The Holy Martyr Christopher lived during the III Century and suffered in about the year 250, during the reign of the emperor Decius (249-251). About his life and miracles there exist many various accounts, and his memory is venerated in both the Western and Eastern Churches. (The memory of the Martyr Christopher is especially venerated in Italy, where they recourse to him in prayer during times of contagious diseases). Various are the suggestions about his descent. According to some historians, he was descended from the Canaanites, according to others from "Cynoscephalai" [literally "Dog-heads", located in Thessaly].
      Saint Christopher was a man of great stature and unusual strength, and his face was brutish. By tradition, Saint Christopher at first possessed an handsome appearance, but wishing to avoid temptation for himself and others, he besought the Lord to give him an unseemly face, which was done. Until Baptism he had the name Reprebus (Reprobate) which was connected with his disfigured outer appearance. Even before Baptism, Reprebus confessed his faith in Christ and denounced those who persecuted Christians. For this he was once given a beating by a certain Bacchus, and he took the beating with humility. Because of his reknown strength, soon after this there came after him 200 soldiers, so as to bring him before the emperor Decius. Reprebus submitted without resistance. On the way miracles occurred: a dry stick blossomed in the hand of the saint, by his prayer bread-loaves were multiplied, and the travellers had no lack thereof, similar to the multiplication of loaves in the wilderness by the Saviour. The soldiers surrounding Reprebus were astonished at the miracles, they came to believe in Christ and together with Reprebus they were baptised by the Antioch Bishop Babylos.
      When Saint Christopher was brought before the emperor, the emperor became terrified by his appearance and decided to coerce him into renouncing Christ, not by force but by cunning. He summoned two profligate women, Callinika and Acelina, and commanded them to sway Christopher into a renunciation of Christ and gain his consent to offer sacrifice to idols. But the women were themselves converted by Saint Christopher to the faith in Christ, and having returned to the emperor, they declared themselves Christians, for which they were subjected to fierce beatings and died as martyrs. Decius sentenced to execution also the soldiers who had been sent after Saint Christopher, but who now believed in Christ. The emperor gave orders to throw the martyr into a red-hot metal box. But Saint Christopher did not experience any suffering and he remained unharmed. After many fierce torments they finally beheaded the martyr with a sword. This occurred in the year 250 in Lycia. By his miracles the holy Martyr Christopher converted to Christ as many as 50 thousand pagans, about which Saint Ambrose (of Milan) testifies to. The relics of Saint Christopher were later transferred to Toledo (Spain), and even later to the abbey of Sainte Denis in France.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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