Tag Archive | "Patron Saint of Travelers"

Whatever Happened to St. Christopher?

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Saint Christopher

If you were born into the Roman Catholic faith, you must be familiar with St. Christopher, also known as the Patron Saint of Travelers.  Despite his status as one of the Church’s most popular Saints, much of what we know of Christopher’s life is attributed not to fact but to legends, including the tale that this man from Canaan, born some time during the third century, stood 12 cubits tall (18 feet).


After giving his allegiance, respectively, to an earthly king and Satan and finding both lacking in courage, Christopher decided to serve the greatest being of all: God in heaven.  Because of his great size and strength, Christopher was asked by a hermit to help people cross a dangerous river, insisting that this service would please the Lord.  The future martyr accepted.


One day Christopher ferried a child across the river, a relatively simple task that proved to be most difficult and perilous.  Once safely across the water, the child declared himself to be the Creator and Redeemer of the world; he promised to prove this after Christopher had planted his staff into the ground. The following morning, the staff was found transformed into a living, fruit-bearing palm tree.  This miracle enabled Christopher to convert thousands to the Christian faith, particularly in the pagan city of Lycia.  Thus, he invited the anger of that city’s monarch, who ordered his beheading.  Christopher was made a martyr and centuries later, a Saint.


Because his canonization occurred many years after the Roman tradition, his feast day was removed, in 1969, from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints.  Despite his decommissioning, many Catholics still venerate the martyr.  As a former soldier drafted to serve in World War II, I am one of them.


Thousands of Americans were inducted into the military following the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; the induction was mandatory and inevitable.   A few weeks after I turned 18 years of age in October of 1944, I received a draft notice stating that I was scheduled for induction into the United States Army on January 18, 1945.  In keeping with the tradition of many families whose loved ones were marching off to war, my family gave me a going away party at our row house in South Philadelphia.  My entire family and all of my friends showed up to wish me well and present me gifts and mementos. At the end of a gala evening, I found that I was the recipient of thirteen St. Cristopher medals.


The next morning after breakfast, I kissed my family goodbye and convened, along with other inductees, at the 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia.  There, we boarded a train to an induction center in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  Arriving late in the evening, we were ushered into a mess hall and fed, and then assigned sleeping quarters. Over the next few days, we underwent complete physical examinations and received a full complement of Army equipment. Upon completion of induction, we were assigned to fifteen weeks of Infantry Basic Training at Camp Robinson, near Little Rock, Arkansas.


During my training, other soldiers asked me about the thirteen medals in my possession.  After I had explained that St. Christopher was the Patron Saint of Travelers, I received offers to purchase the medals.  To my comrades, I presented the medals along with the good wishes that they were intended to carry.  When I finally boarded a troop ship bound for the invasion of Japan, I retained but one medal given to me by a dear friend.


During the war, St. Christopher served on land, on sea, and in the air; he was a constant companion to those who carried him.   I believe that St. Christopher was in North Africa, at Normandy, Guadalcanal, Anzio, Iwo Jima, the Battle of the Bulge, and Okinawa.


When the global conflict finally ended in 1945, and the automobile became the mode of travel, St. Christopher was placed with reverence upon many a dashboard.  His next mission was to protect a multitude of drivers and passengers.


Although St. Christopher no longer appears on the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, he is still venerated by many.  Should he not receive recognition in the World War II Hall of Fame, or would that be considered politically incorrect?  Perhaps, St. Christopher can still be found protecting the souls listed in the rosters below.   Click on the links to view these Websites.


American Cemeteries and Memorial Parks

 Aisne-Marne, France
Ardennes, Belgium
Brittany, France
Brookwood, England
Cambridge, England
Corozal, Panama
Epinal, France
Flanders Field, Belgium
Florence, Italy
Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Lorraine, France
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Manila, Philippines
Meuse-Argonne, France
Mexico City, Mexico
Netherlands, Netherlands
Normandy, France
North Africa, Tunisia
Oise-Aisne, France
Rhone, France
Sicily-Rome, Italy
Somme, France
St. Mihiel, France
Suresnes, France


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