Saint Christopher was considered in the West as one of the most popular saints, being included in the group of “the Fourteen Holy Helpers” — the defenders from plague epidemics. According to a Greek belief people who saw St. Christopher that day should not be afraid of a contagious disease and sudden death. A deliberately exaggerated image of the Saint and the Christ child on his shoulder was placed not only in the area of the temple, but also on its outer walls, city gates, so that everyone could see his saving face even from a distance and thus avoid trouble.
The image of St. Christopher appeared in Russia only in the middle of the 16th century and became widespread in the monumental and icon painting. He was portrayed in a typical anthropomorphic form as well as in an unusual form with a dog’s or, sometimes, horse’s head. Like in the West, in Russia he was revered as a healer and deliverer from disease and pestilence; however, in some regions like in the Russian North and the Perm land he acquired different functions inherent in the Russian traditions.
This report examines the main iconographic types of St. Christopher and especially the features of his veneration in some Russian regions in the middle of the 16th— early 18th centuries. These issues have been addressed in many publications by both Russian and Western researchers but the image of St. Christopher in the ancient Russian art still needs to be comprehensively studied and symbolically interpreted.