St Christopher of Palestine

Saint Christopher, a Roman, lived during the sixth century. He was tonsured into monasticism at the monastery of St Theodosius (January 11) in Palestine, near Jerusalem. The accounts of Abba Theodulus about St Christopher are contained in chapters 105 and 234 of the book THE SPIRITUAL MEADOW (Limonarion)

Once St Christopher went to Jerusalem to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and at the Life-Creating Cross. At the gateway of the church he beheld a monk not moving from the spot. Two ravens flew before his face. St Christopher discerned that these were demons, which held the monk back from entering the church.

He asked the brother: “Why do you stand at the gate and not enter?” The brother answered: “Pardon me, Father, but within me struggle two thoughts. One says: go and venerate the Venerable Cross. The other says: don’t go in, make some excuse, and come to venerate the Cross another time.” Then St Christopher took the brother by the hand and led him into the church. The ravens immediately disappeared, and the brother venerated the Cross and the Holy Sepulchre. St Christopher told this story to someone who was distracted by his duties and neglected his prayers.

By day St Christopher fulfilled his monastic obedience, and by night he retired to a cave, where at an earlier time St Theodosius and other Fathers had prayed. At each of the 18 steps leading into the cave, he made 100 prostrations, and spent the greater part of the night in prayer, before the semantron was sounded for Orthros. He spent eleven years doing this. One time, descending into the cave, he beheld a multitude of lamps in it. Two radiant youths were tending them.

“Why have you put the lamps here so that I cannot enter in and pray?” asked the monk.

“These are the lamps of the Fathers,” they replied.

“Tell me, does my lamp burn or not?”

They said, “Pray, and we will light it.”

“Pray?” he said, “What have I been doing up to now?”

Then the saint said to himself: “Christopher, if you wish to be saved, greater effort is needed!”

At dawn he went from the monastery to Mount Sinai, taking nothing with him. The monk toiled there for fifty years at great exploits. Finally, he heard a voice saying, “Christopher! Go to the monastery where you struggled earlier, so that you might rest there with your Fathers.”