One recounts that he was an enormous giant who first served the Canaanites. At length he decided he would try to serve the greatest king in the universe.
He knew this would not be the devil, since the devil feared God. Christopher, despairing of meeting this great king, decided to earn his livelihood carrying wayfarers across a deep river.
One day as he slept in his hut by the river he heard the voice of a child calling 'Christopher, come and carry me over. Christopher lifted the child onto his shoulders, took his staff in his hand and stepped into the water. The swollen stream rose higher and higher, and as it did so the child seemed to grow ever more heavy. Almost stumbling, Christopher cried, 'Child, I am in great danger. You weigh almost as if the whole world were on my shoulders. I can carry no greater load.' The child answered, 'Christopher, do not wonder that this is so. I am Jesus Christ the king whom you serve in this work. And on my shoulders I bear the burdens of the world.' So Reprobus took the name Christopher, which in Greek means 'Christ-bearer'.
Later the saint was martyred for his faith - traditionally at a place called Lycia - even though he was strong enough to overcome his murderers, had he wished to fight them.
In the middle ages it was commonly believed that anyone who looked on an image of Saint Christopher would be kept safe that day. The custom therefore arose of painting the saint, the child on his shoulders, on the walls of churches. He became the patron saint of wayfarers and (in the twentieth century) of motorists.
From A Calendar of Saints,
The Lives of Principal Saints of the Christian Year
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