25 July: “Mister” Christopher

Today is the feast of Saint, er um… "Mister" Christopher.  This beloved figure "lost", as it were, his status as saint when the Holy See made a determination to remove from the universal calendar some certain figures (e.g., "Miss Philomena") whose historicity was questionable.  The Church has never said that a person cannot venerate these figures, of course, but they are generally not be celebrated at the altar.

In any event, here is the terse entry in the Martyrologium Romanum:

2. In Lycia, sancti Christophori, martyris.


The Martyrologium Romanum assumes that he is a saint! 

"Christopher" means "Christ bearer".  

May we all be Saint Christopher!

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  1. Andris says:

    Why “Mister”? That there is no more a feast or commemoration of a particular saint does not mean he lost his status of a saint. The Church of Rome has earlier, too, purged its calendar (like in 1570). No liturgical calendar contains all the saints which are mentioned in the martyrology.

  2. Victor says:

    The Martyrologium Romanum assumes that he is a saint!

    So does the German liturgical calendar, where 25th of July is St Christopher’s day as always.

  3. Sidney says:

    Here in Brazil St Christopher is much venerated, so the brazilian bishops
    agreeded in celebrating his cult. Here he is the patron of the means of
    tranportation, so there are blessings of cars in all the cities and many chapels d
    dedicated to him along the roads.
    St Christopher, pray for us and make us Christ bearers!

  4. Jon says:

    Reminds me of another conundrum.

    I’m a Dominican tertiary who attends the Traditional rite on Sundays, and the Novus Ordo during the week. As a Third Order Dominican, the feast of St. Dominic, coming up next week, is very important to me. I need to celebrate. But I scratch my head.

    August 6, 1221
    Death of St. Dominic.

    August 5, 1234
    Date of universal feast proclaimed by Pope Gregory IX.

    August 4th
    Date on which in 1558 Pope Paul IV ordered feast of St. Dominic to be celebrated, having proclaimed Aug. 5th feast of Our Lady of the Snow.

    August 8th
    Feast of St. Dominic in Novus Ordo calendar. August 4th is now designated the feast of St. John Vianney (actual death date), whose feast in the 1962 Missal was August 9th.

    Go figure.

  5. marc says:

    I’m a convert, from ’76; have always lived in more or less ‘well-intentioned’ parishes–rare solemn, sung masses in either Latin or English, not much good music etc but on the other hand no dancing, no clowns, not much patently heretical preaching. From the beginning, though, the Vatican II bit of misinformation I’ve noted most often (even more often, I think, than ‘they did away with Latin’–perhaps because, where I’ve lived, there have always been the at least very occasional masses in Latin in e.g. the local cathedral city etc) is ‘they did away with St Christopher’. Have always tried patiently to explain the difference between ‘not celebrating N. in the calendar’ and ‘saying he never existed’–after 30 years, one can only marvel at how ill-conceived, ineffective and generally counterproductive of authentic reform the introduction of the new rites must have been in ’69 and ’70 etc.: as trying as many aspects of parish life can be, I have always been grateful that I was spared the living through of the years immediately after the Council.

  6. Bill White says:

    You may be interested in this website devoted to the ancient military martyrs – http://www.ucc.ie/milmart/ – among whom is St Christopher: http://www.ucc.ie/milmart/Christopher.html

    Cheers –


  7. Andrew says:

    It might be useful to mention that the Martyrologium is not an exhaustive list of Saints and Blessed.

    As it states under “Praenotanda, No. 27” of the same book: “… liber liturgicus censendus [est], propositum est nec exhaustivum praebere elenchum omnium Sanctorum ac Beatorum, nec prolixa ipsorum elogia …”

    (it is to be regarded as a liturgical book whose purpose is not to provide a comporehensive list of all the Saints and Blessed, nor to provide lengthy narration …)

  8. Séamas says:

    I hope taking them off the calendar doesn’t de-saint them. My patron saint is Columba of Iona, and if he was ever on the universal calendar, he hasn’t been in a long, long time.

    In fact, he was never canonized. He was one of those who became a saint before the Church had a process. He’s a saint because he was generally acknowledged as such; because he founded monastaries all over the British Isles; becuase he converted the entire Pictish nation to the faith.

    Jon: The Domincans in America celebrate it on the 8th, so if you want to celebrate it in union with your order, I’d go with that.

    May 24th, by the way, is The Translation of the Body of our Holy Father Dominic. Either can be celebrated as a solemnity, but whichever is chosen as a solemnity, the other is celebrated as a memorial.

    Here’s the Domincan Calendar for the U.S.


    If you’re not in the U.S., things may be different. I think they celebrate it August 5th in Australia, for instance.

  9. GK says:

    Here in San Christobal de las Casas in Mexico and here they have been celebrating the feast of St. Christopher (San Christobal) with a novena consisting of early morning daily processions with band music and fireworks in different parts of the city that end with a Mass. A priest I met here told me about his trip to a nearby village where he blessed cars.

  10. GK says:

    Sorry, please disregard the ‘and here’ in the first sentence. :)

  11. Jon says:

    Thanks, Seamus, but I was being a tad facetious. I solve my conundrum by celebrating both days.

    Two days of Dominican fun is better than one!

  12. Jeff says:

    I’ve always been a bit nervous about the notion that Christopher and Philomena were “de-sainted” in any way whatsoever. Removed from the universal calendar, yes, but that’s all.

    It’s a common teaching that the canonization of a saint is an infallible act. The reason commonly given is that God would not allow the Church to command (as in canonization) rather than allow (as in beatification) the veneration of a dead person not in heaven by all the Faithful.

    St. Philomena was indeed canonized. St. Christopher was not, but was and is universally venerated. There almost certainly WAS a St. Christopher, though we know almost nothing certain about him. There certainly was a young girl whose bones are venerated as those of St. Philomena, whatever her name was. These are historical personages. I think the nervousness of the authorities in the Sixties–that decade of wisdom–concerned the stories or guesses that had accumulated around their veneration, making them into legendary or quasi-legendary figures. But there is no question in my mind that there is a Christopher and a Philomena, that they are both in Heaven, and act as our intercessors.

  13. Victor says:

    Exactly! And even if the girl’s name was not Philomena, or these are not her bones – I am confident that when I cry “St. Philomena, help me!”, someone up there will listen. Same goes, evidently, for St. Christopher.

  14. A burden of one’s choice is not felt

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