7.6.san Cristóbal tachado copia
Oración de san Cristóbal, tachada en Las horas de nuestra señora según la orden romana , Zaragoza, Jorge Coci, 1516, f. 210r. Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, ID:
Other titles

Oración de sant Christoval, por sí pequeña
Oração de são Cristóvão
Oratione over commemoratione di san Christoforo

Place and year of ban
Preserved sources
Known uses

Against sudden death, probably by assimilation with the virtues associated with the image of the saint.

Information

The Oración de san Cristóbal (Prayer of St. Christopher) is common in books of hours and devotionals. The content of the text has no association with superstitious practices. Prohibition was probably related to the widespread belief in Europe that anyone who contemplated the image of the saint while travelling was protected from sudden death. The image of the giant who helped the Infant Jesus cross the waters of a wide, fast flowing river was often painted at church entrances to facilitate such contemplation. In the 16th century, in the post-Reformation period, the image of the Saint gradually disappeared from places of worship but continued to circulate in popular prints until the 19th century. The popularity of the representation of the Saint and the powers attributed to contemplation of his image date back to the 13th century, which is when the contemplation of Saints in general acquired protective properties. There are documented woodcuts from the 15th century with the image of St. Christopher, accompanied by lines confirming its usefulness for protecting against a bad death. One of the earliest dates from 1420 and reads as follows: Cristofori daciem die quqcumque tueris / Illa nempe die morte mala non morieris. Erasmus of Rotterdam attacked this belief on several occasions, in the Enchiridion Militis Christiani (1503) especially. The Counter-Reformation theologian, Johannes Molanus, also criticised the superstition surrounding the image of the saint in his famous treatise, De picturis et imaginibus sacris liber unus, tractans de vitandis circa eas abusibus et de earundem significationibus (1570). St. Christopher was also one of the patron saints that protected against the plague, although this does not seem to be the reason why the Catholic authorities had misgivings about his veneration and prayer. The prayer that circulates in books of hours is a short text asking for the Saint’s protection and mentioning his role as the bearer of Christ across the river. The Modo et regola di espurgare li uffici (Rome, Tortona 1571) orders expurgation of this reference from the content of the prayer, specifically the following lines: «y no menos tu hijo precioso señor nuestro Iesu Christo quesiste sobre tus ombros truxiesse [San Cristóbal], otorga propicio» (and you [Lord] granted so many graces [to St. Christopher] that you wanted [him] to carry on his shoulders none other than your precious son, our Lord Jesus Christ). This correction is in line with the interpretation of the image of the Saint proposed by Molanus in the 1570 treatise mentioned above. According to Molanus, the representation of Christopher with the Infant Jesus on his shoulders is a reminder that he had carried him in his heart, while the image of the Saint struggling to cross the river is a reminder of the sufferings he went through in order to follow Christ. There is no evidence that this interpretation was the reason for the ban in Spain and Portugal, where the prayer was included in the catalogues from 1559. Everything seems to indicate that there was a link between superstitious belief in the image and inquisitorial prohibition. Since the preserved testimonies of the prayer do not reveal any suspicious or objectionable content, it is possible that the power attributed to the text lay in the way it was used, in contact with the body, or in the relationship between the prayer and contemplating the image of the Saint as a guarantee of protection.

Bibliography
  • Fantini, Maria Pia, «Saggio per un catalogo bibliográfico dai processi dell’Inquisizione: orazioni, scongiuri, libri di segreti (Modena 1571-1608)», Annali dell’Istituto italo-germanicoin Trento XXV (1999) 612.
  • Jaquero Esparcia, Alejandro, « La poesía religiosa al servicio de la pintura: lecturas contrarreformistas en torno a san Cristóbal », e-Spania [En línea], 37 | octubre 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.4000/e-spania.36373
  • Londoño, Marcela, «La imagen de una oración prohibida. El culto supersticioso en torno a san Cristóbal». En Los límites de la representación. Vigilancia y censura de libros e imágenes en los siglos XVI y XVII. Bellaterra: Studia Aurea Monográfica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2015: 361-390. doi: https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/studiaaurea.175
  • Molanus, Johannes, Traité des saintes images, François Bœspflug, Olivier Christin, Benoît Tassel (eds.),  París: Cerf, 1996: 407, volumen 1.
  • «La oración de san Cristóbal». En Las oraciones censuradas. Superstición y devoción en los índices de libros prohibidos de España y Portugal (1551-1583), Barcelona: Herder editorial, 2019: 263-291.
  • Skemer, Don, Binding words. Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages, University Park PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006: 276-277.

Fuente 3. Oración de san Cristóbal, 1520

Sant Cristóbal, mártir de Dios precioso, ruégote por el nombre de Iesu tu criador y por la prerrogativa que te dio cuando te puso su nombre y por el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo y por la gracia que oviste cerca de Dios y por la sagrada virgen su madre, que seas piadoso a mí, tu siervo. Por tu santo (sic), ruego me hagas vencer los que contra mí piensan mal. Y por la carga gloriosa que sobre tus hombros traías, que era Cristo, y mereciste pasar allende el río sin peligro, ten por bien de me ganar gracia contra todas las angustias, pobrezas y tribulaciones y engaños y pensamientos, escarnios y mentiras y falsos testimonios y malos consejos ocultos y manifiestos que, contra mí, tu servidor, los malos enemigos piensan, porque con mi vida y honra te pueda servir y finalmente contigo en gloria vivir. Amén. Ruega por nos bienaventurado san Cristóbal. Que seamos hechos dignos. Oración. Señor Dios, que armaste el tu mártir bienaventurado Cristóbal de virtud, de constancia en su pasión y no menos a tu hijo precioso, señor nuestro Iesu Cristo, quesiste sobre sus hombros truxiese, otorga piadoso a los que su memoria hacemos que por sus méritos al reino delos cielos vengamos. E esto te demandamos por Iesu Cristo. Amén.

How to cite this page:
Forbidden Prayers Digital Library, web publication: https://forpral.uab.cat/en/prayer/oracion-de-san-cristobal/ ISSN: ISSN 2938-0901.