St. Christopher, Patron of Travelers and Holy Helper
A saint that I am especially fond of (for what should be an obvious reason) is Saint Christopher. Saint Christopher is a recently de-canonized saint, who is the patron saint of travelers and transportation, among other things. While the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize his feast day any more, he is still a very popular saint, as production of his medallions and prayer cards still continues after he was de-canonized.
His medallion is one of my favorite ways to invoke Saint Christopher and ask for his aid, particularly when I travel. The particular medallion that I have is a simple metal one, the common image of Saint Christopher carrying the infant Jesus on his back, while crossing the river, a scene taken from the story of the life of Saint Christopher
The story says that Christopher (a large, strong man, who was fearsome to behold) was looking to serve the greatest king there was. First her served his local king, but when he saw him cross himself against the devil, he realized the devil was greater then that king. So he went out in the wilderness and found a bunch of bandits and marauders, one who declared himself to be the devil, he started serving him. But when he saw his master fear and avoid the cross, he realized that the devil was afraid of Christ, and began to seek out Christ that he may serve them. He found a devoted hermit who eventually instructed him that he could serve Christ by assisting people across a dangerous river. He did as the hermit instructed and carried on this way for many years. One day, a child appeared asking to be carried across the river. He lifted the child up, and started crossing, but as he did, he found the child becoming heavier and heavier, and suddenly the river waters began to rise, as though they were flooding. With great difficulty he managed to cross to the other side, and told the child that he has not carried such a heavy burden. At which point the child revealed the he was Christ, whom Christopher was serving, and disappeared. It was later after this, that Christopher was martyred in Lycia, while giving comfort to the persecuted Christians there.
On the back of my interesting medallion, is the image of a surfer on his surfboard, riding a wave. Apparently, during the middle 20th century in Southern California, Saint Christopher became very popular with surfer culture, being seen as a protector of the surfers while they road the waves, and so these medallions were produced. When I found this medallion I knew it was the one I had to have, because it is just so iconic and interesting.
The main way that I gain the blessings of Saint Christopher is by keeping his medallion in my car. It hangs from my rear view mirror, the image of Saint Christopher facing me. When I am leaving on a drive where I feel that I may have to deal with many obstacles from traffic, or accidents, or inclement weather, I will hold the medallion in my hand, and improvise a prayer, asking for the aid of Saint Christopher. It often goes something like this:
“Saint Christopher, through the grace of God, aid me in my trip. Let me reach my destination quickly and safely, and let the road be open before me, and the trip be enjoyable, and stay with me until I have returned safely to my home. Amen.”
I find that this is more then sufficient for any short trips, and that when I find myself sitting in traffic (which living in the Los Angeles area is going to happen) that even then the traffic moves as quickly as it can, and I manage to avoid any potential accidents that can happen when people get frustrated or angry when dealing with traffic.
Occasionally, I have felt the impetus to leave candy outside, either scattering it on the road as I travel, or a bag left where a hungry traveler might find it, which seems to help me on my own trips where I have prayed to Saint Christopher.