Portrait of St. Boniface, Meghan Burnside (Former Student of St. Boniface), 2006, Acrylic on Canvas
This great apostle of Germany was born in Wessex, England, between the years 672 and 680. When he was small, some missionaries stayed a while at his home. They told the boy all about their work. They were so happy and excited about bringing the Good News to people. Boniface decided in his heart that he would be just like them when he grew up. While still young, he went to a monastery school to be educated. Some years later, he became a popular teacher. When he was ordained a priest, he was a powerful preacher because he was so full of enthusiasm.
Boniface wanted everyone to have the opportunity to know about and love Jesus and his Church. He became a missionary to the western part of Germany. Pope Gregory II blessed him and sent him on his mission. Boniface preached with great success. He was gentle and kind.
He was also a man of great courage. To prove that the pagan gods were false, he did a bold thing. There was a certain tree called the "Thunder Oak of Thor". The pagans believed it was sacred to their gods. In front of a large crowd, Boniface chopped down the tree with an axe. The pagans realized that their gods were false when nothing bad happened. Boniface taught the new converts that thunder was not the special power of a false god, but rather a wonderful gift of nature from the one true God. When the people expressed disappointment that they no longer had a tree to show enthusiasm for, Boniface told them that, every Christmas, they could cut down evergreens and bring them into their homes to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. Therefore, Boniface created the concept of the Christmas tree.
Everywhere that Boniface preached, new members were received into the Church. In his lifetime, Boniface converted great numbers of people. In place of the statues of the pagan gods, he built churches and monasteries. In 732, Pope Gregory made Boniface an archbishop and gave him another mission territory. It was Bavaria, which is part of Germany today. Boniface and some companions went there to teach the people about true faith. Here, too, the holy bishop was very successful.
One day, as Boniface was preparing to confirm some converts, a group of fierce warriors swooped down on the camp. Boniface would not let his companions defend him. "Our Lord tells us to repay evil with good," he said. "The day has come for which I have waited so long. Trust in God and He will save us!" The Barbarians attacked and Boniface was the first one killed. He died a martyr on June 5, 754. Boniface was buried at the famous monastery he had started at Fulda, Germany. This was what he wanted.
THE PRAYER OF ST. BONIFACE
Eternal God, the refuge and help of all your children,
We praise you for all you have given us,
For all you have done for us,
For all that you are to us.
In our weakness, you are strength,
In our darkness, you are light,
In our sorrow, you are comfort and peace.
We cannot number your blessings,
We cannot declare your love.
For all your blessings, we bless you.
May we live as in your presence,
And love the things that you love,
And serve you in our daily lives,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.