The Legend of Christopherus
Once there was a man called Offerus who was as big and as strong as a giant. He was proud of his great strength and he vowed to serve no one but the most mighty of kings.
In time he came to serve a great king, said to be the most powerful of rulers. Offerus worked hard and the King was pleased to have such a man at his service. But, after a time, Offerus noticed that whenever the devil was mentioned, the King would shrink back and make a gesture against the Devil’s power. Offerus confronted the King and demanded to know who was mightier, the King or the Devil. The King squirmed but eventually admitted that the Devil was mightier than he.
Then I seek the Devil and I will serve him. I vowed to serve the most mighty of kings, so I must go.
And, without a moment’s delay, he set off to find the Devil. Well, it’s never very hard to find the Devil and shortly after he had left the King, Offerus came upon a shadowy knight, riding a black horse.
“Are you looking for me?” asked the knight with a grimace.
“Yes”, said Offerus, “if you are the Devil.”
“That I am”, said the knight.
Offerus explained his quest, and after being assured by the Devil that he was indeed the most mighty of kings, Offerus entered his service.
Offerus served the Devil well, but after a time he noticed that whenever they came to a cross on the road, the Devil shrank away from it and did anything to avoid it. Offerus demanded to know whose symbol this was and where this man could be found, for he could see that he must be mightier than the Devil.
The Devil came up with all sorts of excuses and stories, but Offerus stood firm, and in the end the Devil admitted that the Bearer of the Cross, the Christ, was the mightiest king of all.
Then I seek the Christ and I will serve Him. I vowed to serve the most mighty of kings, so I must go.
Immediately, Offerus set out to find the Christ. He searched and he searched, and he asked everyone he met where the Christ could be found. After many years he came to a hermit, who advised him to stop his traveling and instead to take up a good work. The Hermit took Offerus to a little hut by the side of a mighty river and said that Offerus could, with his great strength, carry travelers across the river. Offerus agreed and took on this task.
One night, many years later, Offerus was asleep in his hut when he heard the voice of a child:
He opened the door and looked around, but could see no one. He returned to bed. Again, the child called:
And again Offerus went to the door and looked out. This time he did see a child, and the child asked him to carry him across the river. Taking up his great staff, Offerus lifted the child upon his shoulder and set off across the river. Suddenly the river started to flood and Offerus, who feared nothing, became afraid. But he carried on, wading further into the river.
To Offerus’ amazement he realized that the child was becoming heavier and heavier. By the time they reached the middle of the river Offerus thought he could go no further. But, gathering all his strength and with the aid of his staff, he managed to stagger to the far shore and set the child down.
“I thought I would drown. I felt that I carried the whole world on my shoulder”, he said to the child.
“Indeed you did feel the weight of the whole world, for that is the burden I carry, and you carried Me. Since you have borne Me on your shoulder your name shall now be Christopherus – Bearer of the Christ”, and with that the Child was gone.
Christopherus returned to his hut. The next morning when he went to take up his staff, he saw that it had sprouted leaves and flowers. He knew that this was a gift from the Christ, and he continued his life of service, satisfied that he now served the mightiest of kings.