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The dog headed Saint, a Cynocephalus

who carried the boy, who carried the weight of the world

Angels and Icons Series

Recently a few of my posts included 'new' icons, not just new in the sense that they are my new works but they do not take the traditional form. Like a traditional icon, they are painted on wood panels and they include various stories from various religious traditions, but that's where there is a point of departure. The new icons blend traditional elements - particular characters and symbols with a more contemporary feel.

The icon series keeps some traditional elements but isn't bound to tradition or rules and includes other symbols and even at times composites the stories around the subject being featured. In particular, the stories are not always common or well known, these are the legends, the myths, the lesser known stories, or in the case of Saint Christopher a combination of stories surrounding him.

Saint Christopher a Cynocephalus Carries a Young Jesus across the water - original hand painted wooden icon by artist amy adams aka amyincluj

Saint Christopher as a cynocephalus carries a young Jesus across the water

Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher is a Saint in various christian religious traditions. Christopher is also known as the Christ Bearer since he is thought to have carried Jesus, as a small boy, across a body of water. He was also considered to be a cynocephalus - dog headed or cynephoros - dog faced, a giant. The cynocephalus were said to have been wild and fierce tribe of warriors. Cynocephalus were thought to have lived in caves and have traded with human beings.

rough sketch, study for Saint Christopher icon - amy adams art aka amyincluj - pastel and carbon on paper

Preliminary sketch of Saint Christopher as a cynocephalus, based on an historical icon image.

Historical images show Saint Christopher as either a human faced person carrying Jesus across a body of water with a palm tree staff in western traditions, or in the eastern traditions he is depicted singulary or with others (but not carrying the boy) as a dog faced person which is known as a cynocephalus.

painted icon, traditonal eastern depiction of the dog-headed saint Christopher - held at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece

Painted icon, traditional eastern depiction of a dog-headed Saint Christopher held at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece [1]

Some people think this is a mis-translation but dog headed beings have been known throughout history and to me it doesn't really matter. That is the story as it was told.

His Legend

It's said that whilst aiding many people to cross a swollen river, he unknowingly carried the boy Jesus across the river. However as he was carrying the small boy, with each step he grew more tired and weary. This seemed unusual at first since he was extremely tall by todays standards having over 5 meters and a very strong man. Later he realised that the difficulty he experienced was not so unusual once he learned that the boy was carrying the weight of the world with him.

woodcut print with hand-colouring of St. Christopher from Buxheim on the Upper Rhine dated 1423

Woodcut print with hand-colouring of St Christopher from Buxheim on the Upper Rhine dated 1423. The print is held in the John Rylands Library in Manchester. This is generally regarded as the earliest datable woodcut in Europe, although the date on the print could simply commemorate a particular event in that year. [2]

The inscription can be translated "In whatsoever day thou seest the likeness of St Christopher, In that same day thou wilt from death no evil blow incur".

This is the second icon of Saint Christopher in my Angels & Icons series who is recognised by various christian religions.

approx 40cm square wooden panel painting - icon of Saint Christopher

Angels and Icons series began in 2016. Saint Christopher is the third saint chosen for the series. Saint Martha was the first and you can see the first art icon and learn more about her legend here and here. Also known as a saint but chosen for this project as an angel is the archangel Michael, check out article on Medium with a gif of this very famous archangel as a modern day icon.

If you like the art, share a thought in the comments or share this post with your friends. Thank you for taking the time to read about and view my art. If you want to see more subscribe to my posts and/or find me on Instagram and Twitter. You can contact me when you click here.




15 Sep 2016 & 26 Sep 2016 in Art © Amy Adams Art

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