Boniface was born at Crediton in Devonshire, England, in the year 680. Some missionaries staying at his father’s house spoke to him of heavenly things and inspired him with a wish to devote himself, as they did, to God. He entered the monastery of and was trained for his apostolic work.
His first attempt to convert the pagans in Holland having failed, he went to Rome to obtain the Pope’s blessing on his mission and returned with authority to preach to the German tribes. It was a slow and dangerous task; his own life was in constant peril, while his flock was often reduced to abject poverty by the wandering rubber bands.
Yet his courage never flagged. He began with Bavaria and Thuringia, next visited Friesland, then passed on to Hesse and Saxony, everywhere destroying the idol temples and raising churches on their site. He endeavoured, as far as possible, to make every object of idolatry contribute in some way to the glory of God; on one occasion, having cut down on immense oak which was consecrated to Jupiter, he used the tree in building a church, which he dedicated to the Prince of the Apostles.
He was now recalled to Rome, consecrated Bishop by the pope, and returned to extend and organize the rising German Church. With diligent care, he reformed abuses among the existing clergy and established religious houses throughout the land. At length, feeling his infirmities increase, and fearful of losing his martyr’s crown, Boniface appointed a successor to his monastery and set out to convert a fresh pagan tribe. While he was waiting 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 ceased speaking when the barbarians fell upon him and slew him with all his attendants, to the number of fifty-two.
Boniface is known as the Apostle of Germany. He not only brought the Christian faith but Roman Christian civilization to this portion of Europe.
Saint Boniface, you faced discouragement and failure and learned from them. Help us to hear God’s message in our moments of failure and to use what we learn to serve God better. Amen.