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St Christopher - is he or isn't he?



The story of St Christopher is familiar to many people. He carried a child who was unknown to him across a river; the child then revealed himself to be Jesus - "Christopher" literally means "Christ-bearer". Christopher went on to convert many pagans to Christianity and was eventually martyred. He is the patron saint of travellers, and a St Christopher coin is carried or worn by many to invoke his blessing.


However there is a question over whether or not he is still considered a saint by the Church.


The key distinction we have to recognise here is that in Catholic doctrine at least, saints are only recognised by the church. Over the centuries communities and traditions have welcomed many saints long before the church caught up. Over the years this process has become more codified into the calendar of officially recognised feast days.


In 1969, Pope Paul VI revised the Liturgical Calendar. A special commission - "Consilium" - looked at the feast days of saints that are commemorated at Mass, removing those whose inclusion was based more on tradition than evidence, adding saints only recently canonized, and allowing bishops the flexibility to add local saints.


Much of what we know of St Christopher comes from tradition, and there is little hard evidence about his life. Because of this, St Christopher's feast days is one of those that did not remain on the calendar. However he was by no means"de-canonized". He remains a saint, and his feast day - 25th June - can still be observed by parishes, communities or individuals with a continuing devotion to him.


References

Ricci, J (2004) In spite of it all, St Christopher hangs in there, LA Times [last accessed 05 July 2020]

Anon (1998) Saint Christopher, Encyclopaedia Britannica [last accessed 05 July 2020]

Whatever Happened to St Christopher, Catholic Straight Answers [accessed 05 July 2020]

Is St Christopher still a saint?, Catholic Answers -[accessed 05 July 2020]

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