Friday, June 04, 2010
Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
Saint Boniface (also known as Winfrid; Wynfrith; Apostle of Germany) was born at Crediton, Devonshire, England in 675 A.D. He was educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter, England, and he joined the Benedictine Order at Nutshalling, and was ordained in 705.
In 716 he attempted a missionary journey to Friesland but had to abandon the effort due to political disturbances. He was offered the abbacy at Nutshalling, but declined and was sent to Germany east of the Rhine as missionary by Pope Gregory II in 719. There he was assisted by Saint Albinus, Saint Abel, and Saint Agatha. He destroyed pagan idols and temples and built churches on the temple sites. He was called to Rome by Gregory II who consecrated him regional bishop in 722.
Upon returning Boniface encountered a group worshipping at the sacred oak of the Norse thunder god, Thor, at Geismar. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and he hacked down the six foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, "How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he."
In 732 Pope Gregory III made Boniface Archbishop with no definite province. He founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. In 741 he was commissioned by Pope Zacharias to reform the whole Frankish church, after which success he was made Archbishop of Mainz in 748.
In 754 Saint Boniface resigned his see to accomplish his dream of missionary work in Friesland. He built a number of churches there, but, he was attacked by pagans, and he along with 52 of his converts were martyred at Friesland, Holland.
Saint Boniface is buried in the cathedral at Fulda.