Saint Christopher  - A Giant ?


Tradition relates that Saint Christopher came from a country of cannibals and that his face was doglike.  "He was of gigantic stature, had a terrifying mien, was twelve coudees tall. - Jacques de Voragine, in The Golden Legend   [A coudee is slightly larger than an English foot. So as per this ancient account, St. Christopher stood from 12 to 18 feet tall, a facet of the Christopher Legend forgotten or erased from church history.

The dog-headed Christopher myth originates  in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian [c 243-316 CE]  A man named Reprobus ["Wicked"  in Latin] was captured in battle against tribes in North Africa, and was assigned to the "numerus Marmaritarum" or "Unit of the Marmaritae". He was reported to be of tremendous size, with a dogs head instead of a human one, by some accounts this was characteristic of the Marmaritae people, but highly unlikely.

Early translations did not always render an accurate translation of the Greek term kunokephalos ("dog-headed" ), and at times translated it as canineus  ("dog-like"). This progressively morphed to read "Canaanite" (Cananeus) since it seemed apparent that a Saint could not really have been "dog-like".

 So Christopher the "Canaanite" (Cananeus) was actually Christopher the Canineus ("dog-like") . Some believe that the description of Christopher as hailing from the land of the dog-headed derives from the Egyptian cult of the jackal-headed god Anubis. Others believe that the civilized intellectuals of the Greco-Roman world were accustomed to describing those who lived on the outskirts of civilization as cannibals and dog-headed savages. So that when the original author of the account of St. Christopher described his origin from the land of cannibals and dog-headed peoples he was merely signifying that he came from the edge of the civilized world, a cultural metaphor .

 It has been speculated that St. Christopher could be the same man known as the Coptic Saint Menas for whom a 4th century burial site is known .  Doubts about the historical existence of Christopher, long the patron saint of travelers, prompted the Catholic Church to remove his name from the calendar of saints in 1969.


Popular Romances of the West of England




Giant Legends of Antiquity

Gabbaras    Eleazar The Jewish Giant    Ferragus The Portuguese Giant King  

Ordulf the Mighty    The Giant Lord of Vallemont France   Assorted Tall Tales



Roman Historian Pliny relates in his catalog of Human Wonders , the giant garabbas brought to Rome in the age of Claudius. He describes Gabbaras, who was brought to Rome by Claudius Caesar from Arabia as between 9 and 10 feet in height. 

Pliny also tells of Posio and Secundilla, a male and female giant found in the Sallustian Gardens durring the reign of Augustus Caesar .  Some accounts state they were the Gardens guardians, others that they were buried there as a tribute to their incredulous height. As per Pliny they measured 10 feet 3 inches each.

Eleazar The Jewish Giant

Roman/Jewish Historian Josephus tells of Eleazar.  In the "Antiquities of the Jews", by Josephus, is the story of Eleazar a Jew,  who was 10 ft 6 inches tall .

According to Josephus, in 36 CE on the occasion of a treaty conference Eleazar was handed over as a  gift to Roams Emperor Augustus.  He was put on display in Rome as a Freak.

Some accounts state that Eleazar was the son of Aaron, the brother of Moses which is chronologically impossible. As per Exodus 6:25 Aaron had a son by this name also but the Giant Eleazar lived many Centuries later.


Ferragus The Portuguese Giant King

There is an  account of an 11 foot tall giant dubbed " Ferragus " in the classical literature of France . Ferragus is largely mythical in nature but some believe it to be somewhat factual, most likely due to his association with actual historical persons. .  Ferragus, was supposedly slain by the nephew of Charlemagne, Roland {Orlando}.  Ferragus, of Portugal is mentioned in the Old French medieval prose romance Valentine and Orson .

In the Chronicle of Charlemagne he is a giant 36 ft high, with the strength of 40 men, and with an invulnerable skin; while in Ariosto's Orlando furioso he is described as a leader of the Saracen Army, son of Lanfusa.

Bullfinches Mythology : " Roland particularly distinguished himself by his combat with Ferragus ... a giant... his skin was such impenetrable stuff that no sword could make any impression on it ... "

In his castle Ferragus kept a great Brazen Head, that told those who consulted it whatever they required to know. It was a gigantic head which told those who consulted it whatever they required to know, past, present, or future.


The Giant Lord of Vallemont France

From an order of Dominicans in Rouen, France comes a tall tale of Chevalier Ricon de Vallemont.  In 1509, some of the Dominican Monks were digging on their land and a stone tomb was found containing a skeleton, the skull allegedly "would hold a bushel of corn and the shin-bone measured 4 feet high," The tomb bore the inscription "in this tomb lies the noble and puissant lord, the Chevalier Ricon de Vallemont."

Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus , mentions a giant 13 1/2 feet high and says he had 12 companions who were double his height.  

Ordulf the Mighty

 In the church of the monastery of Tavistock, England  built in 960, was buried Orgar, and his son Ordulph.  Ordulph was said to be a giant , possessing remarkable strength. He once appeared before the gates of the city of Exeter alongside King Edward, and demanded admission. His demand was not immediately complied with so he tore away the bars of the with his bare hands, burst open the gates with his foot, ripped open the locks and bolts and smashed through a portion of the wall, calming walking into the city over the ruins he had created. The citizenry was , needless to say, in awe.

  "But notwithstanding the superiority of his strength and stature, Ordulph died in the flower of his age. He gave orders to be buried at his abbey at Herton, in Dorsetshire; but was interred in or near the Abbey Church of Tavistock, where a mausoleum or tomb of vast dimensions was erected to his memory, which is represented to have been visited as a wonder. 'The thigh-bone of Ordulph is still preserved in Tavistock Church." Traditions, Legends, Superstitions And Sketches Of Devonshire

People who knew Ordulph, King Edward included, believed that to be able to summon such strength only meant it came from unnatural and diabolical powers. These powers were said to have come from Satan in return for a pact Ordulph had made with the Prince of Darkness.


Assorted Tall Tales

In his account of a voyage to the Straits of Magellan, Jacob Lemaire  states that  "several graves  at Port Desire contained the skeletons of men ..10 and 11 feet tall, with shark like teeth." .L.A. Exposed: Strange Myths and Curious Legends in the City of Angels

See Also Patagonian Giants


 Frederick the Great of Prussia maintained a "regiment of giants" , known as the Potsdam Giants. The regiment of giants boasted at one time among its ranks a "Scottish Giant". This person was aproximately 8 feet 3 inches tall. 



The Excerpts below , extracted from the Web, are from Sources not researched as of February 2009

Valence in Dauphine boasted of possessing the bones of the giant Bucart, the tyrant of the Vivarias, who was slain by his vassal, Count de Cabillon.  Wonderful Characters Comprising Memoirs and Anecdotes of the Most Remarkable Persons of Every Age and Nation

Near Mezarino in Sicily in 1516 there was found the skeleton of a giant whose height was at least 30 feet; his head was the size of a hogshead, and each tooth weighed 5 ounces; and in 1548 and in 1550 there were others found of the height of 30 feet.

The Athenians found near their city skeletons measuring 34 and 36 feet in height.

In Bohemia in 758 it is recorded that there was found a human skeleton 26 feet tall.

In September, 1691, there was the skull of a giant found in Macedonia which held 210 pounds of corn.


 In his "History of the Counts of Holland " published in 1583 Hadrianus Barlandus said that in the time of John, Earl of Holland, the giant Nicholas was so large that men could stand under his arms, and his shoe held 3 ordinary feet.

Plater, a famous physician, declares that he saw at Lucerne the true human bones of a subject that must have been at least 19 feet high.

John Riolan, a 17th Century anatomist, wrote in 1614 "there was to be seen at one time in the suburbs of Saint Germain the tomb of the giant Isoret, who was reputed to be 20 feet tall..." Historical Landmarks and Other Evidences of Freemasonry Explained in a Series of Practical Lectures, Part 1  

Funnam, a Scotsman, who lived in the time of Eugene II, is said to have been more than eleven feet high Bell's New Pantheon or Historical Dictionary of the Gods, Demi Gods, Heroes and Fabulous Personages of Antiquity


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