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St. Christopher medals

Spring travels on the horizon? Travel safely (and in style) with protection from the Patron Saint of Travel! Read on for a brief history of these stunning medals.
St Christopher_Hero

Some families have family game night traditions, some have holiday traditions.

In my family, our tradition has always been the gift of jewelry. Not just any kind of jewelry, though; a particular piece of jewelry symbolic of protection that has been passed down through generations and become a staple in my jewelry box: St. Christopher medals.

Throughout my childhood and into my teens, my mom would almost always gift my sister and I St. Christopher’s for birthdays and holidays. As a child, I loved these colorful medals for their shiny enamel surfaces and significance to my mom. And to this day, I am still in awe over the variety of bright colors I can choose from: crimson reds, royal purples, greens and yellows, eye-popping blues, silver, and pinks and whites.

The medallions also came in an assortment of sizes and styles: from dime sizes to nickels to one as large as a quarter. My St. Christopher jewelry collection gradually built up, and soon I could lay claim to one from almost every color in the rainbow.

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Choose to have your St. Christopher medal made into earrings, charms for a bracelet, and rings!

As I got older, though, and began moving from dorm to apartment to house to a newer house throughout and after college, I sadly began to lose track of them. As my collection of St Christopher’s dwindled, I began to take for granted the sanctity of this particular symbol. I didn’t develop a full appreciation for it until my 20s when my personal style really began to form – and looking back, I have my mom and St. Christopher’s to thank for my love of jewelry.

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A snapshot of my own collection of St. Christopher's as I have begun rebuilding my collection!
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Feeling blue?
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This painting of St. Christopher by Giambattista Cima da Conegliano hangs in the Chiesa di San Stefano in Venice, Italy. 
Jozef Sedmak, Dreamstime.com

So, what is a St. Christopher medal? They are created in the patron saint's honor and are usually made from colored enamel and sterling silver. Each medal depicts the saint carrying a young child Jesus on his shoulders and a staff in his hands. The words "Saint Christopher" are written along the top of the medal, and "Protect Us" along the bottom.

Little is known about the saint himself, St. Christopher, but one thing is certain to those who know his name: he is considered the patron saint of travel.

His story dates back to biblical times. According to legend, he was a man of incredibly large stature (some say he was 18 feet tall!), and provided loyal service to his king. However, he desired to serve the greatest king of all: God. His quest to serve Jesus Christ led him to a hermit, who told St. Christopher that in order to serve God, he had to prove himself. The hermit instructed St. Christopher to assist travelers passing through cross a dangerous river. Many had died in the attempt, but St. Christopher’s size and strength would protect him and others. While assisting one such traveler, a lone child, across the turbulent waters, St. Christopher discovered that the child was in disguise as Christ, and that he had finally proven himself to his one true king.

While St. Christopher medals are a testament to the Catholic faith, many who don them do so to invoke St. Christopher’s protection during travel and long voyages, not as an affirmation of their religion. March is a common time for travel – spring break, long weekends away, and Easter trips with family approaching – so whether you believe the legend of St. Christopher or not, you can travel comfortably knowing you have an amulet of luck on your side!

Why do I wear the patron saint of travel? I wear it as a testament to my mom, my childhood, and the community I live in, yes, but also as my own lucky charm.

FIND MORE: necklaces , earrings , enamel , rings

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