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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, Missionary to Germany, and Martyr, 754.

One of the great achievements of the Anglo-Saxon Christians was the conversion of their cousins in Germany. The trail was blazed by Willibrord (see November 7) but the man to whom most credit is due was Boniface of Devonshire, England. His real name was Wynfrith. Boniface ("good deeds") was a nickname that stuck.

In spite of some disappointing efforts in Frisia (Holland), the missionary Boniface proceeded into the Germanic heartland. In Bavaria, Thuringia, and Hesse he won many converts to Christ. In an act of extraordinary boldness, he chopped down the sacred Oak of Thor at Geismar. With the felling of this tree, Germanic confidence in the old gods fell. From then on Boniface's work progressed rapidly. He soon organized eight German dioceses, founded the famous abbey at Fulda, and was himself consecrated the first Archbishop of Mainz. Boniface always kept in close touch with England, writing many letters to friends at home who supplied him with books, vestments, and recruits for the work in Germany.

Still concerned about the Frisians with whom he had failed, Boniface made another effort to revive the church there. In this attempt he was slain by a mob of Frisian pagans near Dokkum.

Help us to strengthen your church, O Christ, that we may do your work in the world. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Almighty God, you called your faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and a martyr in Germany, and by his labor and suffering you raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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