Tuesday, June 4, 2013

St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany

Today, June 5th, is the memorial of St. Boniface, bishop and martyr.

St. Boniface was born in Devonshire, England, around 680. Known as the apostle of Germany, Boniface was an English Benedictine monk who gave up being elected abbot to devote his life to the conversion of the Germanic tribes. It was a slow and dangerous task; his life was in constant peril, while his flock was often reduced to abject poverty by wandering bands of robbers. Yet his courage never failed. He began with Bavaria and Thuringia, next visited Friesland, and then passed on to Hesse and Saxony, everywhere destroying the idol temples and raising churches in their place.

After being recalled to Rome and consecrated bishop by the Pope, he returned to extend and organize the rising German Church. With diligent care he reformed abuses among the clergy, while establishing religious houses throughout the land. Feeling his infirmities increase, Saint Boniface appointed a Superior for his monastery and set out to convert a pagan tribe. When he was about to administer Confirmation to some newly baptized Christians, a troop of pagans arrived, armed with swords and spears. His attendants would have opposed them, but the Saint said to his followers: “My children cease your resistance; the long expected day has come at last. Scripture forbids us to resist evil. Let us put our hope in God; He will save our souls.” Scarcely had he stopped speaking, when the barbarians fell upon him and slew him, with all his attendants, fifty-two in number. He was martyred on June 5, 754 at Dokkum, Freisland (the modern Netherlands).