Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Winfrid, The English Father of German Christianity
Winfrid (or Winfrith) was his birth name, he became Boniface either in his becoming a Benedictine monk or Bishop.
I've always been drawn to this saint and in reading about him for this post I figured out why. He was a spreader and defender of the Faith, which I had already known. One of my favorite saint's stories is the felling of the Donar Oak, where St. Boniface chops down a tree sacred to the pagan's god, then made a chapel from the lumber. What I discovered was that he spent part of his ministry in the land that saw my birth (Hesse) and is a patron of brewers!
St. Boniface was from England, born of a noble family and educated by Benedictines. He eventually became a Benedictine monk and set out as a missionary to Friesland (Netherlands). He met with some trouble and returned to England. He then went to Rome and was given the authority to preach the Gospel to the pagans in Germany by Pope Gregory II. He preached and converted pagans in Thuringia and Hesse, destroyed pagan idols and pagan temples, building churches in their places. He set up monasteries, founded or restored dioceses in central and south east Germany, and was made the Archbishop of Mainz (I was born across the river from Mainz in Wiesbaden, but lived in Mainz the first months of my life). He was very busy in his time in Germany. When he deemed that all was taken care of, he resigned the Archdiocese of Mainz and set off to Friesland to try and evangelize the Frisians again. He had some initial success, but was eventually martyred by pagans.
Along with brewers, he is a patron of tailors, file cutters, Germany, Diocese of Fulda, and the Archdiocese St. Boniface in Manitoba, Canada.
Sanctus Bonificius ora pro nobis.