Monday, June 5, 2006
St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

“Saint Boniface Felling Donar’s Oak” by Johann Michael Wittmer (1861)

Simple (1955 Calendar): June 5
Memorial (1969 Calendar): June 5

Today the Church remembers St. Boniface, bishop and martyr. He was born around 680 AD into a Saxon family and performed missionary in Germany from 719 AD, when Pope Gregory II requested thusly, until the saint's death in c. 755 AD. Baptized with the name Winfrid, the saint received his early education in a Benedictine monastery in Exeter. In his teen years, he was sent to a monastery at Nursling in Hampshire, where compiled the first-ever dictionary of Latin grammar. At the age of 30, St. Boniface was ordained as a priest.

In 716 AD he began missionary work in the area of present-day Northern Holland. Declining the offer to become Abbot of Nursling, St. Boniface went to Rome in 719 and was commissioned by Pope Gregory II to be a missionary to Germany. At that point, he was given the name "Boniface" meaning "meaning maker of good". In his missionary work, St. Boniface was assisted by Saint Albinus, Saint Abel, and Saint Agatha. During his mission in Germany, St. Boniface destroyed idols and pagan temples and built churches on the sites to erase the false worship and establish the worship of the True God. In 722, St. Boniface was consecrated as a bishop.

Much of Germany had very little knowledge of true Christianity. The clergy there was corrupt and far too many people believed in heresies and errors in the truth. St. Boniface became bishop of Mainz and did amazing things for the Church in Germany by helping to spread the Faith. He also evangelized Holland where he and 52 of his new flock, including Saint Adaler and Saint Eoban were martyred in 755 AD. He is known as "The greatest Englishman of all time".

In Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word 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." Conversions began.

Traditional Matins Reading:

Boniface, formerly called Winfrid, was a native of England, born towards the end of the seventh century. From his very childhood, he turned away from the world and set his heart upon becoming a monk. When his father tried in vain to divert him from his wishes by the beguilements of the world, he entered a monastery, where under blessed Wulphard he was instructed in all virtuous discipline and every kind of knowledge. At the age of twenty-nine years he was ordained priest, and became an unwearied preacher of the word of God, wherein he had a special gift, which he used with great profit to souls. Nevertheless, his great desire was to spread the kingdom of Christ, and he continually bewailed the vast number of barbarians, who were plunged in the darkness of ignorance and were slaves of the devil. This zealous love of souls increased in him in intensity day by day, till having implored the divine aid by prayers and tears, he at last obtained the permission of the Prior of the monastery to set out for Germany.

He sailed from England with two companions and reached the town of Dorestadt in Friesland. On account of a great war then raging between Radbod, king of the Frieslanders, and Charles Martel, his preaching was without fruit: so he returned to England, and to his former monastery, the government of which, against his will, he was forced to accept. After two years, he obtained the consent of the Bishop of Winchester to resign his office, and he then went to Rome, that by the Apostolic authority he might be delegated to the mission for converting the heathens. When he arrived at the City, he was courteously welcomed by Gregory II, who changed his name from Winfrid to Boniface. He departed thence to Germany and preached Christ to the tribes in Thuringia and Saxony. Radbod, King of Friesland, who bitterly hated the Christian name, being dead, Boniface went a second time among the Frieslanders, and there, with his companion St Willibrord, preached the Gospel for three years with so much fruit, that the idols were hown down, and countless churches arose to the true God.

Saint Willibrord urged him to accept the office of bishop, but he refused, so that he might the more instantly toil for the salvation of unbelievers. Advancing into Germany, he reclaimed thousands of the Hessians from diabolic superstition. Pope Gregory sent for him to Rome, and after receiving from him a noble profession of his faith, consecrated him a bishop. He again returned to Germany, and thoroughly purged Hesse and Thuringia from all remains of idolatry. On account of such great works, Gregory III advanced Boniface to the dignity of archbishop, and on the occasion of a third journey to Rome, he was invested by the Sovereign Pontiff with the powers of legate of the Apostolic See. As such, he founded four bishoprics and held divers synods, among which is especially to be remembered that of Lessines held in Belgium, in the diocese of Cambrai, at which time he made great efforts to spread the faith among the Belgians. By Pope Zachary he was named Archbishop of Mainz, and by command of the same Pope, he anointed Pepin king of the Franks. After the death of St Willibrord, he undertook the government of the Church of Utrecht, at first by the ministry of Eoban, but afterwards, being released from the care of the Church of Mainz, he established his see at Utrecht. The Frieslanders having again fallen back into idolatry, he went once more to preach the Gospel among them, and while he was busied in this duty he won the palm of martyrdom, being slain by some impious barbarians, who attacked him together with his fellow-bishop Eoban, and many others, on the river Born. In accordance with his wish expressed during life, the body of St Boniface was carried to Mainz and buried in the monastery of Fulda, of which he had been the founder, and which he has rendered illustrious by numerous miracles. Pope Pius IX ordered his Office and Mass to be extended to the universa Church.

The Litany of St. Boniface:

For private use only

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us, Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, Pray for us.
Queen of the Apostles, Pray for us.

Saint Boniface, Pray for us.
Apostle of Germany, Pray for us.
Worthy successor of the Apostles, Pray for us.
Worthy disciple of Saint Benedict, Pray for us.
Ornament of the Catholic Church, Pray for us.
Thou light, shining for the conversion of pagan nations, Pray for us.
Thou light, shining like the sun, Pray for us.
Thou great benefactor of many nations, Pray for us.
Thou zealous preacher of the Gospel, Pray for us.
Thou unwearied laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, Pray for us.
Thou founder of the Catholic Church in Germany, Pray for us.
Saint Boniface, our Father, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, teacher of truth and virtue, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, extirpator of heathenism, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, destroyer of heresy, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, great bishop and model of missionaries, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, protector of missions, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, founder of many monasteries, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, powerful advocate with God, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, who didst work many miracles, Pray for us.
St. Boniface, great Martyr of faith, Pray for us.

That God may preserve and confirm us in our holy Catholic religion, Pray for us.
That God may grant us the grace to walk piously and faithfully before Him, Pray for us.
That God may humble the enemies of His Church, Pray for us.
That God may grant the grace of True Faith to all heretics and infidels, Pray for us.
That God may give us that spirit with which thou didst serve Him, Pray for us.
That God may restore the Faith to the whole of Germany, Pray for us.
That God may raise up zealous missionaries to convert all pagans and heretics, Pray for us.
That the Holy Spirit may enlighten all missionaries, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Pray 1 Our Father for the conversion of sinners

Let Us Pray: Merciful God, Who hast shown compassion to so many heathen nations through Thy faithful servant St. Boniface, we humbly pray Thee to revive and preserve that Faith which he preached in Thy holy Name, that we may receive Thy revelation with a faithful heart, and so regulate our lives as to gain the Heavenly Kingdom, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Preserve and increase, we beseech Thee, O God, the faith of Thy children, and lead back to the True Fold all those who have been separated or have separated themselves from it, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Ecclesiae Fastos:
We were very glad, therefore, to hear that those countries which owe a special debt of gratitude to St. Boniface intend to make the twelfth centenary of the martyrdom of this shining glory of the Benedictine order an occasion of special rejoicing and public prayer.

In Hac Tanta:
In these dark times, the memory of St. Boniface, who brought salvation to Germany twelve centuries ago, is a ray of light and a messenger of hope and joy. We commemorate the ancient union of the German people with the Apostolic See. This union planted the first seeds of faith in your country and helped them grow. After the Roman See entrusted Boniface with this legation, he ennobled it by the exceptional glory of his deeds and, finally, by the blood of martyrdom.

Encyclical of Pope Benedict XV promulgated on May 14, 1919.

O God, Who didst vouchsafe by the zeal of blessed Boniface, Thy Martyr and Bishop, to call a multitude of peoples to the knowledge of Thy name: grant, in Thy mercy, that as we keep his solemn feast so we may also enjoy his protection. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

4 comment(s):

del_button June 7, 2006 at 3:48 AM
Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten said...

Oh yeah I know Saint Boniface, he was martyred not so far away from here. He was evangelizing the Frisians (a rather rough crowd) and sought to make his point to chopping down a sacred oak; after which Boniface was duly chopped up himself by a rather unidignified mob.
Interestingly most 'sacred oaks' later were kept in place by the Church and became focal points for all kinds of miracle stories. There are still odd pilgrimages to former holy oaks (or their descendants) which are reputed to be the sites of miracles when the northern Netherlands were Christianized (600-800AD)

del_button March 9, 2008 at 3:00 PM
Anonymous said...

I just want to know when did St.Boniface die but other than that this was very helpful for me. I am doing a school project so it help me alot.

del_button March 9, 2008 at 3:04 PM
Anonymous said...

Hi I like this a lot. A friend toll me about this. St.Boniface is cool because he has the name of a place were my relivites live Thanks alot. I am a christain.

del_button May 21, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Anonymous said...

im an athiest but this guy is really cool

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