Saint Christopher

View Fullscreen

Domenicho Ghirlandaio, Saint Christopher and the Infant Christ, c. 1472-1475, fresco, 284.5 x 149.9 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Christopher (originally Reprobus) was a very large Canaanite in the third century.  He wanted to serve the most powerful person on earth--after serving a king and the Devil (who both proved to be not all-powerful) he learned of Christ, and decided to help ferry the poor across a river, as a way to serve Christ through humility.  One day he carried a child, who midway became incredibly heavy:  the child was revealed to be Christ, and Christopher's staff began to grow leaves.  He took the name Christopher, meaning "Christ bearer."

In Eastern iconography he is sometimes depicted with a dog or monkey head, signifying his wickedness before he converted.