Famous people who may never have existed

St. Christopher

St. Christopher is one of those jack-of-all-trades saints. He’s the patron saint of travelers, fruit dealers, epileptics, surfers, and presumably epileptic surfers. Followers adore him, and his talisman is a popular item among believers and tourists alike. There’s just one issue: he may not have been a real saint, or even a real person.

As explained by the LA Times, many scholars are convinced he wasn’t real, and they’ve thought that for awhile. At the least, they feel that were he real, everything saintly about him is based off pure myth. Instead of an evil giant who accepted Christ and converted 40,000 pagans to Christianity before being martyred, he might have been just a regular guy who, after being captured by the Romans and drafted into their military, converted to Christianity and was murdered for it. Those from the local church called him Christopher since they didn’t know his real name, and Christopher meant “bearer of Christ” so it worked.

The issue of his existence is so controversial that, in 1969, the Vatican “kicked [him] off the universal calendar,” meaning his feast day was no longer required, and you only had to worship him if you really wanted to. But he was never de-sanctified because, according to Professor David Woods of University College Cork, Christopher “has a genuine historical core.” He probably wasn’t a giant though, and 40,000 converts is likely one of those exaggerated “give or take” numbers.