Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-94)
St. Christopher and the Infant Christ

Fresco, 112 x 59 in. (284.5 x 149.9 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Cornelius Vanderbilt, 80.3.674

This is the most common narrative image of St. Christopher. As in the Golden Legend, he starts to carry a child across an otherwise unfordable river, but the child seems to get more and more heavy with each step. Finally the child, who is Christ, explains that he is carrying the weight of the world. That punch line is here expressed by a globe that the child holds in his left hand.

As a sign so that Christopher will know he is telling the truth, the child tells him to stick his staff in the ground beside his house and he will see in the morning that it will have put forth palm leaves. The leaves at the top of the staff in this painting refer to that miracle.

Read more about images of St. Christopher.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.