Boniface, Bishop & Martyr

II Timothy 1.1-3,6-12; Psalm 122; Mark 12.18-27

Boniface (circa 672 to 5 June 754) was born in Crediton in Devon.  His baptismal name was Winfred.  As a very young man he came to live in a Benedictine monastery in Examchester (Exeter).  He received further theological training at the minster of Nursling, near Winchester, and was ordained a priest at about age 30.  

In 718 he came to Frisia (the coastal region on the north of modern-day Netherlands) to join the Northumbrian Willibrord preaching in the countryside.  Their mission was interrupted by war between Frisia and the Franks. Willibrord withdrew to Echternach (modern-day Luxembourg) and Winfred to Nursling.  The following year Winfred went to Rome where Pope Gregory II re-named him Boniface after a 4th Century martyr and ordained him as missionary Bishop to Germania.  He enjoyed remarkable success, and in 732 Pope Gregory III made him Archbishop of all of Germany east of the Rhine.  Charles Martel (Charlemagne’s grandfather) established dioceses in Salzburg, Regensburg, Freissing and Passau, giving them to Boniface. In 745 Mainz became his Archiepiscopal see, and he established further dioceses in Würzburg and Erfurt.  A disciple of his established an abbey at Fulda and he appointed bishops from among its monks.

In 754 he undertook a fresh mission to Frisia.  He and his companions were set upon and killed by Frisian bandits.  Boniface was acclaimed as a saint immediately.  He was buried first at Utrecht, then removed to Mainz; later his remains were moved to Fulda.

Posted in Daily Reflection.