St. Christopher and the Quest for the Alpha Dog

Saint Christopher was a totally incredible badass. He\'s not a Roman Catholic saint anymore, since he got Mysterii Paschalised back in \'69, but he\'s still totally legit with the Orthodox, and for good reason. He\'s the saint of travelers, and ferrymen, and total badasses everywhere.

He didn\'t always go by \"Christopher\", of course. For most of his life his name was literally Wicked: Reprebus. He was a Marmaritaen, which of course means that instead of a human face, he had the head of a dog. He was also a giant man, seven and a half feet tall with muscles to match, \"terrifying both in strength and in countenance\".

One day Reprebus decided that the King of the Marmitae wasn\'t cool enough for a guy like him to serve under, and so he went off to find \"the most powerful king there was\". Leaving Africa, he found himself in Antioch, the largest city in Syria. Ah, Antioch, where \"fashion was the only law, pleasure the only pursuit, and the splendor of dress and furniture was the only distinction\"--surely their governor was a pretty impressive ruler!

After only a few days there, however, Reprebus realized two things: first, that the governor of Antioch was really not that much of a bad-ass, and secondly that he reported directly to Rome. Well, clearly the boss of Rome was superior to the boss of Antioch, then! Neglecting to obtain a letter of reference, (on account of the seven feet of height and the dogface) Reprebus signed up for the Roman army straight away.

Things went well for a while, as the Emperor of Rome was unquestionably the most impressive leader on the planet at that time. However, one day Reprebus noticed a startling thing: whenever anyone referred in passing to the Devil, Emperor Decius shuddered and crossed himself. Reprebus\' ears perked up at this (well, the left one did--I imagine that the right ear was all floppy, you know?). There was someone more powerful than Emperor Decius?

After that the honeymoon was over--no matter how powerful the Emperor was, he was apparently still less great than the Devil. Reprebus submitted his letter of resignation and left to headed to the closest, lonliest crossroads he could find.

Satan arrived promptly on the tick of Midnight, all fire and brimstone, hooves and flames. He was certainly impressive enough! He brought his Legion of Hell, as well, and there were soldiers there that made Reprebus\' dog-Head look downright normal, and his seven-and-a-half feet look short.

So they were walking down the road, and Reprebus was getting ready to settle down and sign the Official Contract, when they happened to pass by a small rustic church. He didn\'t even pause in his recruitment speech, but Reprebus noticed that the Devil swerved just a little out of the way, giving the cross a wide berth. Upon adamant questioning, Satan admitted that yes, ok, he was afraid of Jesus Christ. At that, Reprebus turned on his heel and left to find God without so much as a \"fare you well\" to the indignant Devil.

Reprebus didn\'t find God, but he found a lonely hermit by a river who had devoted his life to God, and that was close enough. After explaining to the hermit that he was on a quest to work for the most powerful, most kick-ass king he could find, Reprebus asked him what he should do in God\'s service.

\"Well\", replied the hermit, \"if you want to serve God, I\'d recommend fasting and daily prayer...\" Noting Reprebus\' hangdog expression, the hermit hastily added, \"Or you could maybe help people cross the river over there. It\'s pretty deep, even at the ford, and a folks keep drowning\".

He had mostly served as a soldier, but never really enjoyed the work, so Reprebus jumped in the river and got to work. With his height and strength, it was actually quite easy to help people across the river, and for several days things went well. Until the little kid came along, that is.

He was a tiny child and lighter than a feather, so Reprebus suggested that he ride on his shoulders on the way across. He climbed up, scratched him behind the ears, and they set off across the calm, placid river.

With every step, however, the little child seemed to weigh more and more. By the halfway point it was like carrying a full-grown man and, worryingly, the weather was getting worse worse. By the two-thirds mark, the river was swollen, the water was choppy, and the cute little kid might have been a well-fed ox.

Finally, with a supreme effort of will, Reprebus staggered to the other side of the river. At this point the river\'s waves were crashing over his head, the \"little\" child was the heaviest thing he had ever carried, and his fur was completely soaked. It was all he could do to drop the kid on the bank before falling over.

When he had recovered his breath, he said, \"You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were.\" To his surprise, the child smiled at him, and said, \"You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work.\" And then he vanished.

Now firmly convinced that his new boss was worth a dozen of his old bosses, Reprebus got baptized, changed his name to \"Carryin\' Jesus\" (in the Latin, Christopher) and magically transformed his face into a human head. I presume that this last bit was done via Christian grace; I can only hope that he preferred it to the old one.

He had many more adventures before finding himself in the Lycia. The King asked him to worship the Lycian pagan gods, but after having rejected the king of Marmaitae, the governor of Antioch, the Emperor of Rome, and the Devil himself, Christopher was in no hurry to work for some local deities. The King of Lycia tried to tempt him with treasure, wine, and beautiful women, but Christopher scoffed at the treasure, lapped up the wine, and converted the women to Christianity.

At that point the Lycian ruler decided to just have him killed. As Wikipedia tersely puts it, \"Various attempts failed, but finally Christopher was decapitated\".

A thousand years later his skull destroyed a Saracen army, lifting the siege in Croatia, and seven hundred years after that the Pope declared that he didn\'t exist.