"Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real."

Cormac McCarthy

Last updated 4 October  2019  © Julia Edwards

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A 'St. Christopher' is the name given to a particular kind of pendant or charm worn on a chain or bracelet (or sometimes a figure stuck on the dashboard of a car). For centuries, St. Christopher has been held to be the patron saint of travellers, keeping people safe when they travel.

 

When I was wondering what kind of object could cause Joe to travel through time, I liked the idea of a St. Christopher which would protect him as well as trigger his time-travel. 

 

There are several versions of the legend of St. Christopher, but the one we know today dates back to the 13th century, from a collection of stories about saints called "The Golden Legend" which became a medieval bestseller.

 

According to this legend, Christopher was originally called Reprobus, meaning 'reprobate' or 'scoundrel'. He was over 2 metres tall, immensely strong, and fearless.

St. Christopher, painted by Titian.

The story goes that he wanted to serve the greatest king there was. He went to the king who was said to be the greatest. But one day, he saw the king cross himself at the mention of the devil. Realising that the king feared the devil, he decided to go and look for the devil.

He met a group of outlaws, one of whom claimed to be the devil. So Christopher began to serve him. But then he saw this new master avoid a cross by the side of the road. From this, he supposed that the devil must fear Christ, so he left to go and look for Christ.

 

He met a hermit who taught him about the Christian faith. Christopher asked the hermit how he could serve Christ, and the hermit told him to fast and pray. Christopher said he couldn't do that, so the hermit suggested he should serve Christ by helping people to cross a dangerous river. 

One day, a little child asked Christopher to carry him across the river. During the crossing, the child became as heavy as lead and the river rose to a torrent. Christopher struggled to reach the other side with the child. When he got safely to the bank, he said to the child, "The whole world could not have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied, "But you were carrying the whole world on your shoulders, as well as Him who made it. I am Christ, your king."

 

After this, St. Christopher became a Christian and converted many people to Christianity. Finally, however, as with so many saints, he came to a grisly end and was beheaded!