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Mathilde De Robien – 01/04/22
Names that raise the banner of Christ.
Christmas is the feast of Christ’s birth, and naming babies born during this season — or anytime of the year, really — is an opportunity to render homage to Him who became man to save all of humanity. Here’s a selection of names—some quite familiar, some less so—that raise the banner of Christ.
From the Greek “christos” (anointed) and “phorein” (carry), this name literally means, “He who carries Christ.” St. Christopher was a 3rd-century martyr who died in Lycea (now located in Turkey). There is evidence of devotion to him as early as the 5th century, in Bithynia, where a basilica was dedicated to him.
According to tradition, he was a ferryman of prodigious proportions who helped pilgrims cross the river. One day, he lifted a child of extraordinary weight: it was Christ. He then helped him to cross the river by carrying him on his shoulders. This legend has made him the patron saint of travelers.
2. Christian (also Christine, Kristan, or Kristen)
This is a common word for followers of Christ, but it’s also a saint’s name. St. Christian was a Polish monk, killed by brigands in 1003, along with four Italian monks who went to evangelize Poland. He is celebrated on November 12.
Christian became a name in its own right after the edict of Constantine, in 313. This edict granted freedom of worship to all religions, so that everyone could “worship the divinity in heaven in his own way.”
From the Greek “chrysos” (gold) and “stoma” (mouth), Chrysostom literally means “golden mouth.” It was the nickname of a bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, renowned for his edifying homilies and speeches. He supported the Catholic faith against the pressure of imperial power, which led to his removal from his patriarchal seat in Constantinople and his exile to the Black Sea. He died in 407. Today, he’s a doctor of the Church, and is celebrated in the Western Church on September 13.
Although etymologically, Chrysostom does not come from “Christ,” the similarity of its sound and the service rendered to Christ by the saint who bore the name gives the it a place in this selection.
A Spanish derivative of Christopher, Cristobals have a patron saint in the person of Blessed Cristobal de Santa Catalina, a 17th-century Spanish priest. He was a holy man who combined his work as a hospital nurse with his priestly ministry. In 1670, he joined the Third Order of St. Francis and committed himself to serving the poor by creating the Franciscan Hospitallers of Jesus of Nazareth. In 1690, in the middle of a cholera epidemic, he contracted the illness while treating the sick. He died on July 24.
The tradition of care for the sick founded by Father Cristobal continues today with the congregation of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth. Beatified in 2013, he is celebrated on July 24.