Saint Christopher in popular culture

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Saint Christopher, a 3rd-century Christian venerated by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, has been adapted to a number of settings in popular culture.

Saint Christopher personifications, apparitions[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • In William Saroyan's novel The Human Comedy, the saint appears symbolically as the character Big Chris. In one passage, Ulysses, a five-year-old boy, experiences a dream in which Big Chris carries him across a stream.

Film[edit]

  • In Robert Altman's 1978 science fiction film Quintet, a Latin-speaking gambler named Saint Christopher rules over a future ice-age city.[3]
  • In the 1996 World War II film The Ogre a recurring theme is the comparison of the main character, Abel, nicknamed "The Ogre", with a demoted saint, Saint Christopher. It begins with Abel praying to Saint Christopher to burn down his school. In the final scene, Abel rescues a boy from the Nazis by carrying him across a swamp.[4]

Television[edit]

  • In the episode "Quest" during the seventh season of Smallville, Three Kryptonian symbols (Traveller, Savior and Sanctuary) were translated by Clark and Chloe to refer to the (fictional) Saint Christopher's Cathedral in Montreal.[5]

Music[edit]

  • In the second verse of the song The Risen Lord from his 1988 album Flying Colours, singer Chris De Burgh sings a version of Saint Christopher's meeting with the Christ child at the river.
  • Dennis DeYoung of the rock band Styx wrote the song "Christopher, Mr. Christopher" for Styx's 1974 album Man of Miracles. The song reflects fondly of the story of Saint Christopher and laments the perceived downgrade of Saint Christopher's status in 1969; in DeYoung's words, "So when they took that saint away, all that's left were her fears".
  • Tom Waits wrote the song "Hang on St. Christopher", released on the album Franks Wild Years in 1987, in which he implores Saint Christopher to watch over him as he pushes his hot-rod cars and motorcycles to their limits. He also refers to the saint in the song "Tom Traubert's Blues": "I've lost my St. Christopher, Now that I've kissed her."
  • The band Fosca released a song entitled "Letter to Saint Christopher" on their 2002 album Diary of an Antibody. In it, the protagonist asks Saint Christopher if he will "ever reach point B", using the story of Christopher and the young child's journey across the river as a metaphor for moving on from an unhappy life.
  • The second song on Jamie T's new EP, Sticks 'N' Stones, is called Saint Christopher and features the lyrics "She's never alone, as long as St Christopher's here."
  • The Mars Volta's song "Zed and Two Naughts" from the 2012 album Noctourniquet, features Saint Christopher in its lyrics, related to his patronage of transportation.
  • In the bridge of the song I'm A Sinner from her 2012 album MDNA, singer Madonna sings about saints and mentions Saint Christopher along with the lines "Saint Christopher, find my way, I'll be coming home one day".
  • In the Jimmy Buffett song "Surfing in a Hurricane" there is a line that says, "Saint Christopher might not get our asses out of here."
  • The band, Daughter, released a single on their EP "His Young Heart" called "The Woods." It features the lyrics "I asked Saint Christopher to find your sister and she ran out in the woods."
  • Mary Black has a song titled "The Moon and St. Christopher" written by Mary Chapin Carpenter [6]
  • Bon Jovi, in the song "Right Side of Wrong" from the "Bounce" album (2002), references a St. Christopher necklace worn by the principal character in the lyrics.
  • Brendan Benson's song "Bad For Me" references a St. Christopher pendant in the line "And this St. Christopher that hangs around my neck has got to be a fake, 'cause I crash every time..."

Saint Christopher medals and likenesses[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • In Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, the narrator gives Holly Golightly a St. Christopher's medal for Christmas, "[b]ut at least it came from Tiffany's."
  • In Barbara Kingsolver's first novel, The Bean Trees, a Guatemalan refugee, Esperanza, wears a Saint Christopher pendant and calls him the patron saint of refugees. She later gives the pendant to a three-year-old orphaned girl named Turtle.
  • In the third Nikki Heat novel, "Heat Rises," Jameson Rook wears a St. Christopher medal that he is given by Faustino Velez Arango when he finds Nikki near the end.

Film[edit]

  • In the 1957 movie The Spirit of St. Louis, (1957), Charles Lindbergh (played by James Stewart) is given a St Christopher medal before his big flight, which he refuses to accept in order to save every unnecessary ounce of weight. His friend instead hides the medal in the aircraft, to make sure that the saint would be with him for the long and dangerous trip.
  • In the 1974 movie Murder on the Orient Express, the Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson (Ingrid Bergman) wears a Saint Christopher medallion, the apparent loss of which causes her to panic before boarding the train in Istanbul, although she finds it shortly afterward.
  • In the 1993 movie Kalifornia Brad Pitt's character Early Grayce sticks a small statue of Saint Christopher on the dash of the car in one scene and tells David Duchovny's character Brian Kessler "Just in case".
  • In the film The Machinist, Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is often be shown wearing a St. Christopher medal.
  • In the 2003 movie Cowboys & Angels, Shane Butler (Michael Legge) is given a Saint Christopher pendant by his mother just before leaving his parent's home for the first time. He later gives the pendant to his friend, Vincent.
  • In the 2004 movie Crash, Peter Waters (Larenz Tate) carries around a pocket sized statue of Saint Christopher. Waters hitches a ride from police officer Tom Hansen (played by Ryan Phillippe) who has the same statue figure on his dashboard. When Hansen laughs at the thought that Waters has one too, and Waters reaches to pull his statue from his pocket, the cop suspects a gun and shoots him. When Hansen approaches the dead man's body, he discovers the statue in his hand, not a gun.
  • In the 2004 movie The Butterfly Effect, the story's main character, Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) is seen wearing a Saint Christopher pendant throughout the entire movie in each stage of his life.
  • In the movie Airplane!, a St. Christopher statue sits on top of the glare shield in the cockpit, and hides its face as the situation aboard the aircraft deteriorates.
  • In the Joss Whedon's 2005 film Serenity, Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) takes a St. Christopher medal off a dead security guard and wears it for the rest of the film.
  • In the 2006 film The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Sinéad gives Damian her brother Michaels St Christopher Medal after he was executed by the Black and Tans. Damian returns the Medal to Sinéad with his final letter to her the night before he is executed.
  • In the 2013 film Gravity, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) sees an icon in an evacuated Russian space station depicting Saint Christopher carrying the Christ-child on his shoulder across a river. The plot turns at this point with a paranormal event inspiring Dr. Stone to shake off despair and through a form of prayer, courage, and ingenuity find a way to escape.[7]
  • In the 2013 movie Red 2, Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins)is looking for his Saint Christopher medal in his cell in the insane asylum while Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), and Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) are trying to enlist his help.

Television[edit]

  • In an episode of the 4th season of the popular show Cheers, regular patron Norm Peterson takes a small St. Christopher statue out of his breast pocket and says he "just need[s] a little religion." Bartender Woody Boyd is impressed with Norm's sudden piety, until Norm removes the statue's head and takes a swig of alcohol from it.
  • In the episode entitled "Would You Want Me to Tell You?" (1.5) of the 2007 show Saving Grace, Grace mentions that her husband carries around a St. Christopher's medal for good luck while he drives his tractor trailer. She says that if she wanted to hurt him she would steal the medal just before a "long haul".
  • In the TV series Bones, FBI Agent Seeley Booth always wears a St. Christopher's medal around his neck.
  • On the HBO television series The Sopranos mafioso Christopher Moltisanti wears a gold St. Christopher's medal on a necklace around his neck, along with a crucifix, throughout the series (see cross necklace). Also, his surname literally means in Italian "many saints" and he mentioned more than once that he was named after St. Christopher by his devoutly Catholic Christian mother.

Celebrity[edit]

  • During the Beatles’ visit to New York in August 1964, a fan named Angie McGowan grabbed a St. Christopher's medal from the neck of drummer Ringo Starr. McGowan later returned the medal in a much-publicized event.[8]
  • NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki, a Roman Catholic, always raced with a St. Christopher devotional medal in his car.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ p. 132 - Airman, by Eoin Colfer. Published by Puffin, 2008.
  2. ^ McKenzie, James (2013). Janis and Saint Christopher. Portland, Oregon: BookBaby. p. 239. ISBN 9781483503639. 
  3. ^ Friedman, Lester D. (April 1991). Unspeakable images: ethnicity and the American cinema. University of Illinois Press. p. 153. 
  4. ^ Halle, Randall (June 26, 2008). German Film After Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic. University of Illinois Press. p. 78. 
  5. ^ Kubicek, John (May 8, 2008). "Smallville: Episode 7.19 "Quest" Recap". Smallville. BuddyTV. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Mary Black Homepage - Discography". Mary-black.net. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  7. ^ Sanidopoulos, John (September 26, 2013). "Movie Recommendation: Gravity". Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  8. ^ *"Ringo finds St. Christopher's Medal", WABC-TV, August 1964, Retrieved 04-19-2009
  9. ^ "Kulwicki Lives On Through Scholarship". Albany Herald. October 3, 1999. p. 10C. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "One Direction on Africa charity trip: "It was really upsetting"". Pressparty. 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2014-04-22.