From the Greek name Khristophoros, from Khristos ‘Christ’ + pherein ‘to bear’. This 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 Christ-child over a stream; he is regarded as the patron of travellers. In England the name was uncommon in the Middle Ages, but became very popular in the 16th century, especially in parts of the North.
English, French, Dutch, Polish, Czech, and Slovenian: from a Germanic personal name (see Bernhard). The popularity of the personal name was greatly increased by virtue of its having been borne by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c.1090–1153), founder and abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux.