Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Saint Christopher the Christ bearer
Patron Saint of Good Luck!
Patron Saint of bachelors, transportation, traveling, storms, epilepsy, gardeners, holy death, and toothache
The Story of Saint Christopher the Christ bearer
Saint Christopher is one of the most popular Catholic Christian heroes of the Faith. He is a saint, indeed listed as a martyr. He may have also been named Reprobus. He apparently died under the Roman Emperor Decius, in 251 AD. Most Catholics refer to him as Saint Christopher anyway, and his medals and the popular devotions to him are among the most common in Catholic piety.
Other than his listing as a martyr, there are no primary sources referring to St. Christopher, only stories and traditions which have been passed down.
According to these accounts, St. Christopher was extremely tall, and by some accounts he was even a giant! He was surely a man of significant physical stature. But, more importantly, he was a spiritual giant and a sure model and inspiration for the Christian faithful.
Christopher decided one day that he wanted to serve the greatest king he could. He presented himself before his local ruler and entered service, until he noticed the king cross himself at the mention of the devil, revealing that the king believed the Devil to have more power.
St. Christopher then decided to serve the Devil. During his search, he encountered a band of thieves, whose leader referred to himself as the Devil. But when this leader avoided a Christian cross out of fear, St. Christopher learned there was someone even more powerful than the Devil.
St. Christopher found a hermit who taught him all about Christ, the King of Kings. The hermit suggested that he spend his life in prayer and fasting, a thing which St. Christopher, a large and probably often hungry man found difficult, he objected. The hermit suggested he then find something else that would please Christ. St. Christopher offered to work at a nearby river, and help travelers across. The fording was dangerous and many with less strength people had drowned. The hermit advised St. Christopher this would please Christ.
One day, a child approached St. Christopher by the river and asked to be helped across. St. Christopher obliged. However, as he entered midstream, the river rose and the child's weight grew and became extremely heavy. It was only by great exertion that St. Christopher safely delivered the child to the other side.
When St. Christopher asked the child why he was so heavy, the child explained that He was the Christ and when St. Christopher carried Him, he also carried the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. The child then vanished.
Other legends state that St. Christopher traveled after this experience and evangelized thousands of people. Arriving in Lycia in Asia Minor, and witnessing to Christians there who were being martyred. At that time, St. Christopher was detained and ordered to offer a sacrifice to the emperor. When he refused, it was decided to attempt to persuade him with money and women. Two women were sent to seduce him, but instead he converted them to Christianity.
After this, it was decided to have him killed, but various attempts to assassinate him failed. Eventually, he was arrested and beheaded.
The name "Christopher" means Christ-bearer, and may allude to the legend of the man carrying the Christ Child across the river. Saint Christopher also did not become popularized in the Church until the 7th century, about three centuries after his supposed death. We know of his popularity because around the 7th century, churches and monasteries began to be named after him. This adds credibility to the supposition that St. Christopher was merely a legendary figure and not a real person.
There is also speculation that St. Christopher could have also been confused with St. Menas, an Egyptian saint. Both Christopher and Menas are referred to as "Christ bearers" and are patrons of travelers.
St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and of children. His feast day is July 25. Because he is not officially recognized by the Church, he has no date of beatification or canonization. Despite these technicalities, it is widely thought that he was real and that he continues to intercede on behalf of Christians, especially children, today.
The Museum of Sacred Art at Saint Justine's Church (Sveti Justina) in Rab, Croatia claims a gold-plated reliquary holds the skull of St. Christopher. According to church tradition, a bishop showed the relics from the city wall in 1075 in order to end a siege of the city by an Italo-Norman army.
Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is known for many things. Historic towns and villages, impeccable scenery, grilled seafood, great wine and irresistible desserts. Sounds like heaven, really. One thing that can be found there, and in many places around Croatia, is kroštule (or hroštule) – thin ribbons of fried pastry that are puffed, incredibly light and crumble into sugary goodness once inside the mouth.
Many cultures around the world have their own version – verhuni in the Ukraine, žagareliai in Lithuania and xkunvat in Malta, to name a few – yet these little Croatian “angel wings” are amazing. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. You make a dough, roll it, cut it, tie it, fry it and douse it with sugar. Personally I don’t think they store too well after being made as the texture becomes a little a soft. Not that you’d be storing them for too long, anyway.
makes approximately 25
1½ cups plain flour
¼ tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 tsp caster sugar
2 TBSP sour cream
2 TBSP rakija* (Rum)
1 TBSP vanilla
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
Cooking oil, for frying
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar
Place the flour onto a clean work surface, sprinkle with the salt and form a well in the centre. Place the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, sour cream, rakija, vanilla and lemon rind into a bowl and mix with a fork. Pour this into the well and, using your fingers, gradually mix the wet ingredients with the flour to form a dough. Alternatively do this in a large mixing bowl.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water. If it’s a bit wet, add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for half an hour.
If you have a pasta machine, pass the dough through the settings from thickest and gradually down to 2-3 mm thickness. Alternatively use a rolling pin. Once the dough is rolled, cut it into 15 cm x 2 cm strips using a crimped pasta cutter. Tie each strip into a knot, cover with a tea towel and set aside as you heat the oil.
Heat the oil to 190° C in a large saucepan. Place a few knots of pastry into the oil and allow to cook on both sides until lightly golden. Drain well on kitchen paper while you cook the remaining dough.
Combine the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and icing sugar in a large bowl. While the kroštule are still hot, toss them very gently in the sugar to coat well. Allow to cool before serving. They can be stored in an airtight container, but they’re always best eaten the same day.
* Rakija is a distilled spirit made from a variety of fermented fruits. Kroštule often contain rum, so use it if you like. I’ve had a small bottle of my dad’s rakija in my cupboard for over a decade so it somehow made it into the mix!