I put out my hand to receive what resembled a brass bracelet, crumpled and oxidised with age.
"I've rescued a few of these off of trashed roadsters over the years. Lovely things they are..."
And that is how I came to possess a St. Christopher bicycle medallion - a Catholic charm given to me by a Protestant, in Northern Ireland. "Behold St. Christopher and go your way in safety," reads the inscription.
The patron saint of travelers, St. Christopher has been popular with bicyclists in some cultures. In Ireland, various bike accessories with images of the saint can be found - most commonly bells. Medallions like this one are rarer, but this particular one seems to have been popular in County Donegal in the Republic and adjacent areas of Northern Ireland throughout the 1930s-50s. Every so often, the local priest would hold a "blessing of the bikes," with these medallions made for the occasion. Members of the congregation would bring their roadsters to be blessed, at which time the priest would affix the medallion around their seat tubes. The bikes and their journeys would thereupon be protected.
The Blessing of the Bikes ritual has been revived in recent years, mainly in the US. As far as I know, St. Christopher is not mentioned in the proceedings.