Drinking with Your Patron Saints, which we will speak more about in the coming days, debuts on St. Patrick’s Day, and like its two older brothers (Drinking with the Saints and Drinking with Saint Nick), it has cool artwork on the front cover (see above).
As you may have guessed, the beer that the old man is holding is the handiwork of the crack art team at Regnery Publishing. The original painting, depicting St. Christopher crossing a river, is from the workshop of Joachim Patinir (1480-1524), a Flemish Renaissance painter. Although we do not know who the author is, that did not stop the painting from being auctioned at Christie’s in 2012 for a tidy £37,000. Fortunately, you can get your copy for only $19.99, with numerous drinking suggestions included at no extra charge.
While the artist’s identity may remain a mystery, the story he tells is of a famous legend in the annals of the saints.
Reprobus was a giant of a man (7½ feet tall) from the third century who wanted to serve the greatest king ever. He enlisted in the service of a mighty potentate, but when he noticed that the man was afraid of the devil, he left him to serve the Prince of Darkness. That did not last long, however: when Reprobus noticed that the devil was afraid of a roadside cross, he rightly reasoned that Christ was the mightiest of all.
After converting, Reprobus sought the advice of a holy hermit. The hermit told him to fast: Reprobus said he couldn’t. The hermit told him to offer many prayers. Ignorant of how to pray, Reprobus again asked for something else. Finally, the hermit suggested that he put his large stature to good use and ferry people across a dangerous river on his shoulders. (We suspect that the holy hermit is the elderly fellow on the riverbank, although it is odd that Reprobus is moving towards him.)
Anyway, Reprobus happily agreed to the task until one night he was awoken by a small
child asking for passage. As they crossed the river, Reprobus almost collapsed and drowned under the little one’s enormous weight. When the exhausted giant complained after they reached the other side, the child replied: “Be not astonished: thou bearest him who beareth the world.” Do you see the world on Christopher’s shoulders in the painting? We almost made it into a bottle of Chambord for the cover before deciding against it.
As proof that He was who He said He was, the Child commanded Reprobus to plant his staff in the ground, at which point it blossomed into a palm tree with leaves and dates. Our Lord then baptized Reprobus personally, changing his name from Reprobus (Latin for “rejected”) to Christopher (Greek for “Christ-bearer”). The Christ-bearer went on to suffer martyrdom for his fearless preaching of the Gospel. Christopher also became the enormously popular saint of ferrymen and their passengers, freight ships and their crews, gardeners, motorists, pilgrims, sailors, skiers, surfers, and, of course, travelers. We also think that he should patronize Uber drivers.
When you are done traveling, there are a number of drinks with which to toast St. Christopher for a safe journey, and you can find them in Drinking with Your Patron Saints. Cheers!