St. Boniface

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Boniface. St. Boniface was a Benedictine monk in England who lived in the 8th century. At age 30 he was ordained a priest, and soon it was seen that he had the gift of preaching.
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Now it is interesting that in those days, the monks often did missionary work, and Boniface was sent to Germany. Germany was composed mostly of pagan tribes, and this first missionary effort in 716 was not very successful. But Pope Gregory asked him to go again, and on this trip he was able to convert quite a number in Frisia, a Germanic region on the northwest coast of Germany.
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In 724 Boniface moved to the interior of Germany, bringing the gospel to the Hessians. Now many people in that region worshiped pagan gods, and at the village of Geismar there was a giant oak tree which was considered to be the sanctuary of the god Thor. Boniface called upon Thor to strike him dead if he were to cut down the “holy” tree. As Boniface started to chop the oak down, a great wind, as if by miracle, blew the massive oak over. When their so-called-god, Thor did not strike down Boniface, many of the people became open to the True Faith. With the wood from that tree, Boniface built a chapel dedicated to St. Peter.
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This moment is often considered the beginning of the Christianization of the Germanic peoples. From there Boniface pressed on, destroying many pagan shrines. Despite many, who were against his efforts, he continued to put his trust in God and to persevere. Conversions to the Faith were astoundingly numerous.
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Having been named a bishop, he proceeded to organize the Church of Germany. He installed worthy bishops, set up dioceses, promoted the spiritual life of clergy and laity, and founded the monastery of Fulda, which became a center of religious life in central Germany. Christianity was largely spread in Germany by the monasteries.
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At age 74, he then went on another missionary effort, but while administering Confirmation, a group of pagans overpowered him and put him to death.
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Many credit St. Boniface with the invention of the Christmas Tree.
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St. Boniface, when he was once facing so many difficulties, he wrote: ‘I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear comes upon me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church if I could find this warranted by the fathers or the holy Scriptures. Let us therefore trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not rely on ourselves. He will guide our steps.’
St. Boniface is the patron saint of Germany, of tailors, and of brewers.

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