If your only knowledge of Christian saints is that certain holidays and cities are named after them, hang on to your asses. Some of these guys went down in history because they supposedly could fly, slay dragons and function without heads.
Here are the saints who were only an adamantium skeleton away from joining the X-Men.
Life as a missionary can be tough, especially if it's in third century Paris under Roman rule. Undeterred by government death threats, a missionary named Denis continued to convert Parisians to Christianity. This resulted in Denis being beheaded. And he was still undeterred.
"Jesus is head and shoulders above the rest! Hahaha! But seriously, this is excruciating."
The story goes that after his execution, Denis picked up his own severed head, washed it by a spring -- apparently because he was fussy about all the blood -- and walked for about two Gallic miles (which is approximately six of ours, adjusted after inflation). And he was preaching all the way, through the mouth on the severed head he was carrying, until he reached a spot that he thought would make a good burial site. There he eventually dropped dead.
But not before stopping for some bowling.
Fun fact: He's the patron saint of people suffering from headaches (Catholicism has apparently never been renowned for its subtlety). But even better, apart from several paintings of St. Denis with head in hands, the motif was awesomely extended to the world of sculpture, where St. Denis is permanently remembered not for his good deeds, but for being the guy who could do this:
He was a head of his time.
Though we think the real unsung hero of this story was his audience. If he was preaching the whole time he was walking around headless, then somebody was presumably listening. We have enormous respect for anyone who sees a headless guy walking toward them with blood spurting from a ragged neck stump, carrying a head that is offering them an inspirational message of salvation, and is able to actually listen to and absorb what the head is saying.
As you see in the above story, the Romans often served as the supervillains in these old tales of the superhero saints. For instance, when St. Margaret of Antioch resisted the advances of a local Roman prefect, he had her arrested, tortured and then thrown into the dungeon. Things took a turn for the worse when Satan appeared before her in the form of a massive dragon. In a scene ripped straight from some sweet airbrush art on the side of an '80s van, the Satan-dragon swallowed Margaret whole.
The other side is the Last Supper using Lord of the Rings characters.
What happened next varies depending on what account you read, but our favorite version involves Margaret cutting her way out of the dragon's stomach like a chestbuster from Alien. And for some reason the dragon looked like Snarf from Thundercats.
Which was just proof of his evil.
The next day, the Romans tried to execute her by drowning her and then lighting her on fire, which would have seemed a bit like overkill if it had actually worked. It turns out that bathing in the blood of dragons makes you immune to most ordinary causes of death, because neither the drowning nor the flames harmed her.
After Margaret showed Wolverinesque levels of unkillability, the Romans eventually resorted to chopping her head off and then presumably sleeping with the light on every night from then on.
Before Christopher became a saint, he tried going a different direction and decided to be a follower of Satan. Figuring that this was probably not the best move in the long run, he chose to join the forces of good, and started a career as a follower of Christ. This was a pretty big win for the good guys, because Christopher was three times taller than you.
You'd think he'd try to find a safer way to carry that baby. Since he's, you know, Jesus.
The tale written in the saints compendium called The Golden Legend held that Christopher was 18 feet tall. As the writing of the time put it, he was 12 cubits (a cubit being 18 inches). But apparently instead of being the patron saint of choke-slams or of little person juggling, he became the patron saint of traveling. Consequently, images of the Christian Goliath being really big were scattered around Europe.
The most important event in his life of being tall and wasting it just walking around was putting a 3-year-old Jesus Christ on his shoulders and wading across a river, hence the name Christopher ("Christ bearer"). You'd think Christ would be the last guy who'd need someone to carry him across a river, but in a story with a guy as tall as a building and a 3-year-old Jesus traveling on his own, accuracy may be secondary.
And if this painting is anything to go by, the Christ Child was kind of a backseat wader.
On top of that, when it came time to port the story of St. Christopher into Eastern Orthodox doctrine, a translation error pretty much transmogrified the guy. You see, Christopher was a Canaanite (which at the time of Christ meant that he was essentially an Israeli), but this became "canine." Hilariously, artists and iconographers just went with it and turned the giant into a damned werewolf without a second thought.
And a giant werewolf, at that.