Saint Boniface

Also known as

  • Apostle of Germany
  • Boniface of Crediton
  • Winfrid
  • Winfried
  • Wynfrith

Memorial

Profile

Educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter, England. Benedictine monk at Exeter. Missionary to Germany from 719, assisted by Saint Albinus, Saint Abel, and Saint Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites. Bishop. Archbishop of Mainz. Reformed the churches in his see, and built religious houses in Germany. Ordained Saint Sola. Founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. Evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans, and he and 52 of his new flock, including Saint Adaler and Saint Eoban were martyred.

Once in Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshiping 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.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun.

One tradition about Saint Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface bought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing purity of spirit.

Born

  • c.673-680 at Crediton, Devonshire, England

Died

Canonized

Patronage

detail of a print of Saint Boniface chopping down the Odin oak; by Daniel Chodowiecki, 1780; Vonderau Museum, Fulda, Germany; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsRepresentation

Additional Information

Readings

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon this ship but to keep her on her course. Let us stand fast in what is right, and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: “O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.” Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful, and he tells us: “My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Let us continue the fight on the day of the Lord. The days of anguish and of tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, “let us die for the holy laws of our fathers,” so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them. - from a letter by Saint Boniface

Let us pray the gracious defender of our life, the only sure refuge of those in trouble, that His right hand may keep us safe amidst these dens of wolves, and that He may guard us from harm, so that the footsteps of apostates walking in darkness may not be found, where should be the beautiful feet of those who carry the peaceful light of the gospel, but that the most gracious Father and God may help us to gird up our loins, with bright candles in our hands, and that he may enlighten the hearts of the heathen to gaze at the glorious gospel of Christ. Amen. - Saint Boniface; text from Prayers of the Saints

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Boniface“. Saints.SQPN.com. 17 December 2014. Web. 20 December 2014. <>