The Legend of Saint Christopher


The legend of Saint Christopher, first written in the thirteenth century, tells the story of a strong man named Offero, who wants to find the greatest ruler in all the world and to serve him as his bearer. Offero's search is in vain until a mysterious child at a riverside asks Offero to carry him over the river. Only after Offero has carried the child over the river does he discover the child's true identity. Then Offero's name is changed to Christopher. / Author Margaret Hodges retells with power and simplicity ...
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The legend of Saint Christopher, first written in the thirteenth century, tells the story of a strong man named Offero, who wants to find the greatest ruler in all the world and to serve him as his bearer. Offero's search is in vain until a mysterious child at a riverside asks Offero to carry him over the river. Only after Offero has carried the child over the river does he discover the child's true identity. Then Offero's name is changed to Christopher. / Author Margaret Hodges retells with power and simplicity this unforgettable tale of the man who became known as the patron saint of travelers. And illustrator Richard Jesse Watson has created hypnopompic paintings that dramatically capture Offero's journey and the brilliance of his discovery of the One he sought. / Based on old nursery rhymes, the poetic text by Newbery Honor winner Kathi Appelt and the beautiful light-filled paintings of Debra Reid Jenkins combine to make this gentle bedtime story a perfect illustration of God's abiding love.

Relates the story of Offero, whose service to Jesus brought him the name of Christopher the Christ-bearer and caused him to be called the patron saint of travelers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hodges (Saint George and the Dragon) masterfully adapts William Caxton's 15th-century translation of The Golden Legend to serve up a saint's tale with strong folkloric elements. Offero, a strong man who works as a bearer (porter), wants to serve the greatest king in the world. When he discovers that the king fears the devil, Offero concludes the devil is mightier, and serves him until he learns that the devil fears Christ. Offero's search to serve Christ teaches him that his own inner grace is even stronger than his physical prowess. Watson's (The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake) artwork achieves a startling blend of the ancient and the timeless, the archetypal and the particular he paints narrative elements in representational oils, reserving the backgrounds for abstract patterns that hint at the mythic roots of legend. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
With simplicity and dignity, Hodges retells the story of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers, based on the 13th century Golden Legend translated by William Caxton. Offoro was a strong, bold man who wished to serve the "greatest king in the world." Every time he found a leader he thought worthy to serve, that person, it turned out, feared someone else. His quest led him from a king to the devil to a lonely hermit. From him he learned of a mighty lord, Jesus Christ. The hermit instructed Offoro to go to the river and carry travelers across, and for that kindness, Christ would show himself to Offorro. One evening a mysterious boy appeared at the river's edge and as Offoro carried the boy, he seemed to become heavier as the water frothed and raged. Setting him down on the other side, Offoro learned the boy's true identify—Christ, who carried the world's sin as his burden. For his kindness Offor's name was changed to Christopher, the Christ-bearer. When the miracle the child promised came to fruition, Christopher knew he had found the greatest master to serve. Powerful, dramatic oil paintings reflect the tone of the tale, with the dark palette used in Offoro's journey giving way to lighter and softer colors as Offoro recognizes Christ. Hodges, a gifted storyteller, incorporates elements of folklore in her sparse but dramatic retelling. 2002, Eerdmanns,
— Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Hodges does a fine job of adapting and retelling the saint's story from William Caxton's 15th-century Golden Legend, acknowledging that these tales were not meant to be historical. Offero has a desire to serve the greatest king in the world. He serves a variety of masters, including a monarch and a cruel devil, believing each is the greatest ruler, until the sign of a cross causes the devil to flee, and Offero looks for Christ. A hermit tells him that he should take travelers across the river to find Christ, and one night he carries a young boy who becomes so heavy that he feels like the world is on his shoulders. The child is Christ, carrying the burdens of the world. Changing the man's name to Christopher, which means the Christ-bearer, Christ sends him back to the river to continue helping travelers. Hodges's style is fluid and has the cadence and rhythm of an experienced storyteller. The text is well illustrated by Watson's sometimes complex, full-page paintings done in oils on acrylic. While the figures are realistic, the backgrounds are mysterious and impressionistic, dark and somewhat foreboding until after the encounter with Christ, when they become infused with light. As she did in St. Jerome and the Lion (Orchard, 1991; o.p.), Hodges brings the story to life for young readers.-Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802853608
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/23/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 808,930
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

(1911—2005) Margaret Hodges was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from Vassar College with honors and received a Masters in Library Science from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After working as a children's librarian, she was a professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences of the University of Pittsburgh. Margaret wrote numerous award-winning books for children. A majority of her work is inspired from folktales and historical figures.

Richard Jesse Watson is the illustrator of many award-winning books for children, including One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham (Baker), The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake by Nancy Willard (Harcourt Brace), and The Waterfall's Gift by Joanne Ryder (Sierra Club). Richard Jesse Watson lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

The Legend of Saint Christopher

By Margaret Hodges

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2002 Margaret Hodges
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0802850774

Chapter One

In days of old, there lived a man called Offero. His name meant "The Bearer."

He was very tall and strong, and his face was fierce and bold. He served the king of the land where he lived. But he wanted to find an even greater king. He wanted to find the greatest king in the world - to serve him as his bearer.

So Offero went out and searched until he found a king who some said was the greatest in the world. And Offero served in his court.

One day a minstrel came to the court and sang a song about the devil. Trembling, the king made the sign of a cross as he listened to the song. Offero was amazed and wondered what the sign meant.

At first the king would not tell him. But Offero said, "Tell me what the sign means, or I shall leave your court."

So the king told him, "When I hear the devil's name and make the sign of the cross, the devil cannot harm me."

Offero said, "You fear the devil? That means the devil is mightier than you. I thought I had found the mightiest and the greatest lord in all the world, but I was wrong. Farewell - I will go to find the devil and be his servant."

So Offero left the king and went to find the devil. As he went through a great desert he saw a knight with a cruel face half hidden by his armor.

"Where are yougoing?" asked the knight.

"I am looking for the devil," said Offero. "I want him for my master, because he is stronger than the greatest king in the world."

"I am the one you seek," said the knight. "I am the devil."

Then Offero swore to be the devil's servant and took him for his master.

As they went along together, they saw a cross standing by the side of the road. When the devil saw the cross, he was afraid and fled.

Offero was amazed. He ran after the devil and asked why he had run away. But the devil would not tell him.

Offero said, "If you will not tell me, I will leave you and serve you no more."

The devil was forced to answer since he wanted Offero to serve him. "There was a man called Christ who died on a cross. When I see his sign, I am afraid."

"Since you flee from his sign, he must be greater and mightier than you," said Offero. "I have made a mistake. I have not found the greatest lord of the world. I will serve you no longer, and I will go to look for Christ."

Offero searched for a long time to find Christ. At last he came to a lonely place where a hermit lived. Offero asked the hermit where he could find Christ.

The hermit answered, "If you would find him, go and live by yonder riven The river is deep and wide, and many people have drowned when they tried to cross. You are tall and strong. If you live by the riven you can carry people over. Our Lord Jesus Christ will be pleased to see you helping travelers, and I hope he will show himself to you."

Offero replied, "I can do this service, and I promise that I will."

Excerpted from The Legend of Saint Christopher by Margaret Hodges Copyright © 2002 by Margaret Hodges
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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