Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: July 1999

The Passion of St. Christopher (BHL 1766)

1. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time, when Dagnus ruled in the city of Samos, a man came from the island, by origin from the race of the dog-headed people, and was instructed by the Lord to receive the holy baptism which the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in his age, and it was revealed to him that many generations were going to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be called sons of the Living God through him. The saint prayed with his whole heart and behold, a cloud descended from the heaven and began to shine upon him, and a voice came down to him from heaven, saying, "Chosen servant of God, behold, you have accepted baptism in the name of the Lord and of the Holy Trinity." And when the saint had entered Syria, he prayed, saying, "Glory to you, O God, you who convert the ignorant and lead them to the way of truth, you who change the tongues of the wild-beasts and grant them human speech." And when he had entered into the city itself, he prayed, saying, "O Lord, you who made Adam and gave him the knowledge to recognise the way of truth, allow me, your servant, also to teach this people who have strayed."

2. And while he prayed, a woman came out of the city in order to go and worship the idols, and trembled at the sight of the saint. Her face dropped as she saw the the body of a man, but the head of a dog, and she ran to the city and cried out, saying, "Come and see wonders which no-one has been able to see before now." And many crowds ran out and saw the saint standing and praying next to the church, and he looked around at this people and prayed, saying, "O Lord God Almighty, grant me that they may believe in your holy name by my agency." And holding a hard staff in his hand, he planted it into the earth and said, "O Lord My God, make this staff flower and have fine branches and beautiful foliage just like you changed the water into vine at Canaa in Galilee." Many watched, and since the staff flowered, 1,018 men from that city believed in him and received baptism at his hand.

3. When king Dagnus heard this, he sent 200 soldiers to him in order to bring him to him. But when the soldiers saw him, they were afraid to go near him, and he sent another 200 soldiers. And when the soldiers reached him, and saw him standing and praying, they themselves began praying with him also. When he had finished his prayer, he rose, and the soldiers said to him, "Lord, the king wants to see you." And he said to them, "If it is my wish, I will come; if not, I will not come. Yet I will come with you." And when he had entered into Dagnus' sight, the king saw him, and immediately fell down the stand on which he was sitting, since he was huge. He got up after a while, and seated in front of the tribunal, he questioned him saying, "Who are you, or where are you from, or what is your name ?" Saint Christopher replied, "I have been called Reprobus since my birth, but after holy baptism, I am called Christopher." So the king said to him, "Dog-headed and evil troublemaker, do you not sacrifice to my great gods ?"

4. Saint Christopher replied, and said to him, "Truly, you have been well called Dagus, since you are a part of death and an ally of your father the devil. But the gods to whom you tell me to offer sacrifice are nothing. They have eyes and do not see. They have ears and do not hear. Nor can they help those who worship them since they are made of gold, silver and wood. Perish the gods who have not made heaven and earth ! But like a fool you worship them. Would that you would listen to me and worship the God who made heaven and earth since he can free you from the flame and forgive your sins." But the foolish king said to himself, "How can I overcome this man who was reared among the wild-beasts, if I do not find different tortures ?" And the king ordered him to be thrown into prison. Behold ! those 400 soldiers came before Dagnus' sight, and they all hurled their arms down before him saying, "We believe in the God of saint Christopher and worship him." And the king said, "But come, worship my gods, and I will give you gold and silver immeasurable, and set you in great honour."

5. The soldiers said to him, "To hell with you and your gold and silver. We have been baptized once and for all, and we believe in the Holy Trinity." Angered, the king ordered them to be beheaded. They certainly completed their martyrdom by means of the grace of saint Christopher. The king then ordered certain beautiful girls, Nicaea and Aquuilina, to go to him and be locked in prison with saint Christopher, and he promised them gold, silver and precious stones to make him sin with them and sacrifice to the gods. But when they approached the servant of God, they saw his face like a fiery flame, and they fell onto their faces from the third until the sixth hour. When the holy man of God Christopher had finished his prayer, he said to them, "Relax, my daughters, do not be afraid. But he who sent you to me will stand before the judgement of God. And he questioned them, saying "What is your profession ?" And they replied, "Pray for us, servant of God, that the Lord may forgive our sins. Our trade is prostitution, and since we used earn by means of our bodies, we gave to the poor, clothed the naked, redemed captives, and fed the hungry."

6. Saint Christopher said to them, "Reject Jove and Apollo and all your idols and join with me in prayer, and I trust in my God, since he will forgive you your sins." They replied and said, "Pray for us, since we believe in your God and will endure martyrdom with you." The next day the king ordered them to come out of prison and insult his God. They replied, saying "Would that you would listen to us and worship the Lord God of saint Christopher." The king replied and said to Nicaea and Aquilina, "Have you also been corrupted by this troublemaker, so that you reject my great gods ? But ponder upon your beauty, and sacrifice to my gods. If you refuse, I will make you completely disappear from the the face of the earth." They replied to him and said, "If you want us to sacrifice to your gods, order the whole of the streets to be cleaned, and let a herald go forth and shout for everyone to gather into the temple, since Nicaea and Aquilina are going to offer sacrifice to the gods."

7. A great crowd of people then gathered, and the king said to the people, "Nicaea and Aquilina are going to sacrifice to the gods." And as they headed for the temple, they looked back into the jail where saint Christopher was imprisoned, and cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Pray for us, servant of God, that God may free us from these idols." And when they had entered into the temple, they cried out, "Gods of the pagans, hear us." Although they said this three times, there was not a sound from those gods. And they said to the people, "Perhaps they have fallen asleep and do not hear, or are engaged in some task and have no time to spare." Nicaea then untied her belt and set it about Jove's neck, and they both pulled, hurled him down onto his face and destroyed him. They treated Apollo similarly also, and said, "If you are gods, get up and help yourselves." But when king Dagnus heard that Nicaea and Aquilina had destroyed his gods, he came and said to them, "I had asked you to sacrifice to my gods, not to dash them to pieces." They said in reply, "We have dashed the stones to pieces. Such are your foolish gods that they are destroyed by women !"

8. The king replied and said to them, "Since you have placed your trust in that criminal, and have destroyed my gods, I will make you suffer a terrible death in order for Christopher to see your destruction and sacrifice to my gods." And the king ordered iron chains to be set on the hands and feet of Aquilina, and he ordered her to be hung up and a large stone to be tied to her feet in order to rip her limbs apart. But she raised her eyes, looked at saint Christopher praying, and shouted out to him, saying, "Servant of god, pray for me, since I am receiving my crown in the name of your God and." After this she heard a loud voice, saying, "Receive your crow. Enter into the grace of God." And Nicaea looked at her, and prayed, saying, "Lord God of saint Christopher, do not separate me from my sister, but condescend to crown me with her." And the king ordered Nicaea to come before his sight, and said to her, "Do you still persevere in your foolishness ? Hear me and sacrifice to my gods so that you too do not further suffer the tortures which your sister suffered."

9. Nicaea replied, "Your tortures are my delight, and your death, my eternal life." The king then ordered her hands and feet to be bound and her teeth to be knocked out one by one so that she would not able to respond on account of the pain. But she cried out further and said, "I will not fear your tortures. I have a holy supporter who can free me from your hands." Angered, the king ordered a lot of wood to be collected and a great fire to be made, and he ordered her to be burned there. But she stood in the midst of the flame and cried out, "O Lord, you who sent your angel to the three boys in the furnace and freed them from the fiery flame, free me in the same way also from this flame in order to embarass this tyrant." And her hands and feet were freed, and she stood in the middle of the fire, and the flame was made like the dew which descends from the heaven. Seeing that he had not been able to injure her at all, the tyrant ordered her to be beheaded, and she completed her crown together with her sister so as to bear great witness to God.

10. Furthermore, a great crowd were awaiting their glorious passion since they had defied that tyrant and believed in the God of saint Christopher, and the whole crowd were shouting, "Great is the God of the Christians." But angered, the king said in his heart, "If I do not wipe this criminal from the face of the earth, he is going to draw the whole people to him in his wickedness, so that they all believe in him." And the king ordered him to come before his sight and said to hin, "Dog-headed and wicked troublemaker, will you not sacrifice to my gods ? How long will you remain steadfast in this faith ? And how long can I put up with you ? Will you sacrifice to my gods or not ?" He replied to him and said, "I want you to be led into the good faith in order for you to leave your wickedness and adore my Christ who has power over your life and death." And the king said, "Do you still remain steadfast in your foolishness ? And how long can I put up with you ?" In response, saint Christopher said, "I am not foolish, but a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you are foolish and unwise, you who do not confess the Lord Jesus Christ, but confess satan as your father." And angered, the king ordered his hand and feet to be bound. Three ex-consuls then said, "You would have been blessed, Dagnus, if you had not been born, since you have ordered such tortures for a servant of God." Angered, the king ordered them to be beheaded.

11. Saint Christopher then said to him, "If you can torture me further, do it, foolish king. I have eternal life, and your tortures are sweeter than honey." The king then ordered an iron bench to be made in accordance with his height. And workman came and took his measurement, which was 12 cubits. And the bench was made according to the king's order, and they set him in the middle of the city and the king ordered him to be bound there and to be set on fire. And he ordered 40 vessels of oil to be poured over him. The holy man of God replied from the midst of the fire and said, "I have told you once and for all that I will fear neither your tortures nor your anger." When he said this from amidst the crowd of flames, that bench was readied as if for a meal. But the king came and saw saint Christopher standing in the middle of the fire and praying (and his face was like a new rose). When the king saw him, he fell upon his face as a result of the great fright, from the first until the ninth hours.

12. Aftewards he got up and said to saint Christopher, "Wicked beast, are the offences of those souls whom you have caused to stray and have not allowed to sacrifice to the gods not enough for you, but you draw the whole people over to you ?" Saint Christopher replied and said, "Many souls have still to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ by my agency, even you yourself." And the king cursed him and said to saint Christopher, "Do you want to lead even me over to your wickedness ?" And greatly angered, the king said to saint Christopher, "May my gods so treat me, and so punish me, if I do not destroy your life by this hour tomorrow and make an exmple of you for all." On the next day the king ordered saint Christopher to be brought forward, and when he had come before his sight, he said to him, "Heed my words and sacrifice to the gods now lest you die by means of multiple torture." Saint Christopher said, "I have cursed your gods, since I have my faith which I received in baptism."

13. The king then ordered a great pile of wood to be gathered in accordance with his height and to be set before the palace, and soldiers were called and he ordered the servant of God Christopher to be bound to the wood. and when the soldiers came in accordance to the king's command, they fired three flights of arrows at him in order to kill the servant of God quickly. And the king said, "Let us see if your God can come and free you from my hands and these arrows." And they fired arrows at him from the first until the twelfth hours and the foolish king thought that all the arrows lodged in his body. But the arrows were swayed to his right and left by the wind, and none of them touched his body. And after sunset, the king ordered him to be let down bound and put under guard in case he was perhaps freed by the Christians at night. And a great crowd was waiting to receive his body.

14. On the next day the king said, "let us go and see this criminal." And he went to him and said, "Where is your God ?" Let him come and free you from my hands and these arrows." Immediately one of the arrows jumped up, hit the king's eye, and blinded him. and saint Christopher said, " "And God has conde- scended to reveal this to me. Many Christians come and receive my body and set it in a place of prayer. But you come to that place and make a poultice with my blood in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Place it on your eye and you will be healed." And then the hour drew near for the holy man of God to receive his crown. He opened his mouth in prayer and said,

15. "O Lord My God, you who have led me from error to this knowledge, grant me what I ask of you, and wherever they place my body, let not hail strike there, nor the anger of fire, nor hunger, nor death, and if there are wrongdoers there, or demoniacs, in that city and in those places, and they come and pray with their whole heart, and call upon my name in their prayers on account of your name, let them be saved." And a voice came down from heaven saying to him, "Christopher, my servant, let those who mention your name in their prayer receive whatever they ask, and be saved, where your body is and where it is not." Completing his fine martyrdom, he was crowned on 25 July.

16. Those who believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of saint Christopher number 1,048 men and 111 souls. Indeed, on another day the king said, "Let us go and see where they have placed him." And arriving at that place, he shouted in a great voice, saying, "O Christopher, servant of God, show me the power of your God, so that I also may believe in him." And he took some earth from that spot where he suffered, together with a little of his blood, and placed it on his eye in the name of the God of Christopher and his eyes were opened that very hour. Then the king cried out in a great voice, saying, "Glory to you, God of the Christians, you who grant their desire to those who fear you, and from this day today I will set forth this command among every people and in every language: "Whoever blasphemes against the God of the Christians, let him be executed by the sword." Saint Christopher composed this prayer: "O Lord Jesus Christ, grant a good reward to those who write and read my passion, you who reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen."

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Copyright © 1999, David Woods. This translation may be copied for the purpose of private research only.