Author Topic: Historicity of St. Christopher  (Read 269 times)

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Offline Arzelle

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Historicity of St. Christopher
« on: October 12, 2017, 07:07:33 PM »
Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ! I'm an inquirer to the Orthodox Faith from Protestantism and long-time lurker of this forum, and I look forward to getting along with everyone.

I've been researching as much as possible on St. Christopher, and I understand that there are many different (and often contradictory) legends associated with him. I know some secular historians believe that he either didn't exist at all, or if he did that his life is so clouded by mythology that we can't know anything for sure about the historical person.

I read a very interesting article by David Woods too, where he examined the earliest accounts of St. Christopher's life and other ancient documents, and based on his research identified Christopher with another soldier saint, Menas of Egypt. I've seen this conclusion on a few other websites too, so is this possible in your opinions?

I'm inclined to believe in the historicity of St. Christopher, that he was a soldier from North Africa who was martyred in Syria in the 3rd or 4th century, and that he is distinct from St. Menas, but I'm open to being totally wrong. Let me know what you think, please and thanks.

The article I mentioned above: https://www.ucc.ie/archive/milmart/chrsorig.html

Oh, btw, I've also read that St. Ambrose said that St. Christopher converted thousands of people to Christianity, but I can't find the original quote from Ambrose. If anyone knows where he said that or has the source, please tell me.

Offline Aaron6127

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 07:38:43 PM »
"The existence of a martyr St. Christopher cannot be denied, as was sufficiently shown by the Jesuit Nicholas Serarius, in his treatise on litanies, "Litaneutici" (Cologne, 1609), and by Molanus in his history of sacred pictures, "De picturis et imaginibus sacris" (Louvain, 1570)". http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03728a.htm

I pulled this from the Catholic Encyclopedia, which can be a very useful website. It might be worth finding those primary texts mentioned, they might provide some answers. Wish I could be of more help.

P.S. I'm assuming this is the St. Christopher to which you're referring.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 07:39:50 PM by Aaron6127 »
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Offline Arzelle

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2017, 05:10:05 PM »
Thank you, Aaron. And that's the one. I didn't expect researching such a popular saint's life to be so difficult.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2017, 05:45:58 PM »
I've been unable to locate online the passage from St. Ambrose. A dozen or more Orthodox sources copy each other in saying some version of St. Christopher converting "as many as 50 thousand pagans to Christ, as Saint Ambrose of Milan testifies," but with no specific reference. Catholic sources tend to speak of 48 thousand, though even with this more specific number I still couldn't find my way to a translation or exact reference of the primary source. The closest I could find was in a couple books available through Google books (A Short Reader of Medieval Saints, and The Golden Legend), which say something like: "Ambrose in his Preface says of this martyr," and then go on to mention the conversions bit.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 05:51:09 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline biro

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2017, 06:41:37 PM »
Welcome to the board.
My only weakness is, well, never mind

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2017, 06:43:35 PM »
The closest I could find was in a couple books available through Google books (A Short Reader of Medieval Saints, and The Golden Legend), which say something like: "Ambrose in his Preface says of this martyr," and then go on to mention the conversions bit.

Sorry, just a correction: the two books give brief quotes by St. Ambrose, and don't just 'mention' what he says.

Offline Arzelle

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 12:49:28 PM »
Asteriktos
I was running into the same problem, all the websites recycle the same basic story but with no reference or source. I really appreciare you finding that quote for me too, that's just what I was searching for.

Biro
Thank you, I'm glad to be here.

Offline Sharbel

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Re: Historicity of St. Christopher
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 11:08:34 AM »
I was running into the same problem, all the websites recycle the same basic story but with no reference or source...
That's pretty much what many Christian scholars live off, by quoting each other in circles.  Now, if only the sole result were their mooching an income and not leading so many astray with them...
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 11:09:25 AM by Sharbel »
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