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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.
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.