A masculine name from the ecclesiastical Greek christos, "the anointed" or "Christ" + pherein, "to bear." It was later combined into the ecclesiastical Greek Christophoros, which literally means "bearing Christ."

The name was popular among early Christians, conscious of the fact that they were metaphorically bearing Christ in their hearts. A later, over-literal interpretation of the name gave rise to the legend of a saint who actually bore the Christchild over a stream; he is regarded as the patron of travellers.

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