Saint Christopher- The Martyr that Barked
Saint Christopher- The Martyr that Barked.
A Human saint trailed on a different path than the story of the hound Guinefort. Christopher’s history starts in Canaan (territory that now forms Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Syria). According to the local legends, their humans were powerful and ferocious.
A Semantic Confusion
Two Hebrew words were used to define them. One is “Cainite” and the other ‘Canaanites” (sons of Cain). Between the VI and IX centuries, these words formed Caninite, which means the man-dog.
It has also been speculated that this Byzantine depiction of St. Christopher as dog-headed may have resulted from a misreading of the Latin term Cananeus (Canaanite) as caninus, that is, “canine.”
Saint Christopher was born in the northern part of Canaan. When this region was conquered and taken by the Romans during the III and IV Centuries, Saint Christopher was arrested because he was described as a “Caninite Leader”.
He was reported to be of enormous size, with a dog’s head instead of a man (cynocephaly). He and the unit were later transferred to Syrian Antioch, where bishop Peter of Attalia baptized him and where he was martyred in 308.
The literal meaning of “cynocephaly” is “dog-headed”; however that this refers to a human body with a dog head is implied. Such cynocephalics are known in mythology and legend from many parts of the world, including ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and China. In many depictions, Saint Christopher appears as an equal to the Egyptian god Anubis.
That small grammatical and Semantical mistake feeds the popular imagination of the time, which started to think of Saint Christopher as a giant Dog. The official version of his life describes his execution, but the stories told during Medieval times are very far from any grip of reality.
The Will to serve God
In their version, Christopher, a loyal dog, released himself from captivity to find his savior, the King of Kings.
But by that time, Jesus was already dead, and the poor dog could not find him.
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