Christopher of Lycia was a martyr from the 3rd century. A new convert, he was captured by the Romans and died heroically defending the Christians of Rome, who had been persecuted by the Emperor Decius in 250. The worship of Saint Christopher began to spread in the 5th century, when a basilica was built in his honor in Bithynia. From these few known biographical elements, various legends tell the story of Saint Christopher. Some representations show Saint Christopher having a dog’s head. Why? Saint Andrew reports that in the 5th century, he succeeded in converting a giant with a dog head, a cannibal named "Abominable", and made it his bodyguard. Before his conversion, Saint Christopher is represented having the characteristics of an ogre. Once devoted to Christ, he put his strength at the service of the weakest people.
More generally, Saint Christopher is depicted as a bearded giant carrying the child Jesus on his shoulder, holding his pilgrim's staff in his hand. This representation comes from the Golden Legend by Jacques de Voragine. A giant named "Repudiated" lived on the land of Canaan. He had freed himself from the power of the devil and put himself at the service of God. His service consisted in making passers-by cross a rushing torrent. One day, a little boy showed up to cross the shore. Christophe took him on his shoulder, but struggled to reach the other side of the river as the child became heavy and the torrent violent. Finally, having deposited the child on the other side, the child Jesus revealed himself to the giant and explained: "I am Christ, and in carrying me, it is the whole world that you carried and I who created the world". From then on, the saint was called Christopher, which means "the one who carried Christ" in Greek.
The feast of Saint Christopher is celebrated on August 21st.
Christophe is the bearer of Christ. He forgets himself in order to worry only about getting the one he is carrying to the right place. He helped little Jesus cross the river furiously without difficulty and likewise, he took the child on his shoulder and no evil could reach him during the journey. This is why Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and, by extension, of soldiers who go to battle. Nomads and travelers also put themselves under the protection of Saint Christopher.
Saint Christopher is the patron of all those who use a means of transport, especially motorists. Embodying the image of crossing between two banks, Christophe watches over travel by car. Train conductors are also under the protection of the saint.
In the north of France and in Belgium, a popular devotion is to make a pilgrimage on the day of Saint Christopher. A special blessing on vehicles and their users is made by many parishes. At Saint Christopher's Day, the town of Flobecq, Belgium has a tradition of having a Saint Christopher walking on stilts.
It is customary to offer a medal of Saint Christopher to a person undertaking a long and difficult journey. Soldiers used to wear a medal of Saint Christopher to go to garrison or mission. Many motorists put a medal of Saint Christopher in their car to get his protection. The medal is struck by the classic representation of Saint Christopher: very large, the staff in hand, the Child Jesus on the shoulder, crossing a tumultuous river.