St. Christopher has a cultural association with protection, and people have been giving medallions and necklaces bearing his likeness to their traveling loved ones for decades. Take a look at how this symbolic practice of the St. Christopher necklace came to be and why people continue to revere these medals to this day.
The Legend of St. Christopher
St. Christopher was an antiquated figure, originally born as Reprobus, who legend says ferried the Christian God, in the guise of a child, on his back over a raging river. Whether or not this apocryphal story actually happened, the large man's supposed martyrdom for his faith caused him to become a holy character in the Catholic canon. Yet, questions about his legitimacy arose, and in 1969, the Catholic Church removed him from their universal calendar. This was the furthest extent the Church could go without totally revoking his canonization. In between that time, people began gifting their loved ones with Christian or religious jewelry, and St. Christopher medallions were one such token which was frequently given as a promise of protection.
The Meaning Behind the St. Christopher Medallion
Inspired by St. Christopher's ability to protect the child on his back from the dangerous waves of the river that they crossed, these medallions have come to represent protection, particularly over travelers. Giving someone a necklace bearing the St. Christopher visage imparts a sense of protection onto them, as well as communicates your love for them by your tangible expression of your desire to keep them safe.
Who to Gift a St. Christopher Necklace
A St. Christopher necklace makes a lovely gift and is appropriate for so many different occasions and for people of all ages.
St. Christopher jewelry is believed to bring safety and good wishes to travelers, and a necklace would make an ideal gift for someone leaving on a trip or who travels frequently. In particular, this pendant would make a lovely and thoughtful gift for a member of the family who was embarking on a special or long trip, such as a military excursion, as the St. Christopher necklace remains close to their heart.
St. Christopher jewelry is a special gift for young children and babies, as it reflects the start of their journey through life. This would make a lovely gift for a baptism or Thanksgiving service. Even if the youngster won't be wearing the necklace until they're older, these necklaces make an heirloom gift that can be put to the side until the child is old enough to care for, and appreciate, it.
Considering that a student leaving home to live away at college or university is embarking on one of the biggest adventures of their lives, and for many it's their first major solitary travel experience, gifting a St. Christopher medal to them would be considered incredibly thoughtful as it is often their first major travel experience away from home.
Many cars are seen sporting St. Christopher icons. Those who do a lot of driving may find a St. Christopher necklace to be a thoughtful present since driving is a stressful activity, and it could be used a gentle reminder that there are people who love them and are wishing them a safe return.
Types of St. Christopher Necklaces
Although the necklace is the typical style of jewelry created with this religious iconography, you can find ways to customize these necklaces to fit your personal style.
- Keep it traditional - There are many necklace options to choose from with this traditional style, most often being made out of it metals like silver, gold and stainless steel.
- Pick unique materials - Necklaces are traditionally worn on chains; however, they look equally good when worn on other materials such as leather bands. This modern take on the traditional style would make it attractive to teenagers or people looking for something a little different.
- Make it shine - Gemstones can make an attractive addition to pendants, and some tiny diamonds or other precious or semi-precious gemstones can make a very special necklace for your loved ones.
- Choose an antique - Antique or vintage St. Christopher medallions can bring a historic flair to your traditional wardrobe and make for the perfect gift for the vintage lovers in your life.
Caring for Your St. Christopher Necklace
As long as you treat your St. Christopher necklace with care, you'll get years of pleasure out of it, and since a St. Christopher necklace is a special gift that can be passed down through the generations, you want to give it a little extra care so that it'll stay preserved for future owners to enjoy. Here are a few tips for how to keep your St. Christopher necklace in pristine condition:
- When you're not wearing the necklace, carefully store it wrapped in tissue paper or a soft cloth. This is especially important with metals such as silver that are naturally prone to tarnishing over time.
- Check the clasp regularly and add a safety chain if needed. Most jewelers can add a safety chain for you, and these pieces can give you some added security should the main clasp break.
- Clean the St. Christopher regularly. Your jeweler will be able to advise whether any special cleaning supplies are required, though the most common metals used (steel, sterling silver, or gold) can be cleaned using their normal cleaning treatments.
Give the Gift of Protection
A St. Christopher necklace is a special item of jewelry that serves more than just an aesthetic purpose. Whether you've been gifted one by someone you love or are planning on giving one yourself, if treated right, these pieces of jewelry can be treasured for many years to come.