Saint Boniface

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Saint Boniface (bŏn´Ĭfəs, –fās), c.675–754?, English missionary monk and martyr, called the Apostle of Germany, b. Devonshire, England. His English name was Winfrid. He was educated in the monastery of Nursling, near Winchester. In 716 he made his first trip to Friesland to aid the mission of St. Willibrord, but unsettled conditions forced his return to England. In 718 he left England for Rome where Pope Gregory II encouraged his missionary zeal and gave him the name Boniface. Under the protection of the Frankish ruler Charles Martel, Boniface and his companions made many converts in Thuringia, Hesse, Franconia, and Bavaria. His chopping down of Thor's famed sacred oak at Fritzlar symbolized the advance of Christianity in pagan Germany. He established an orderly Christianity there closely tied to the papacy. He became regionary bishop (722) and metropolitan of Germany (731), creating new bishoprics under the supervision of his English disciples. He founded monasteries at Reichenau (724), Murbach (728), and Fulda (744), which became important centers of learning. As papal legate he reformed (c.745) the decaying Frankish Church. He was consecrated (745) archbishop of Mainz. He was martyred by pagans in Friesland. Feast: June 5.

See his correspondence tr. by E. Kylie (1966).

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Boniface, St (c.675–754). St Boniface was possibly the greatest of early Anglo-Saxon missionaries. Named Wynfrith, trained in monasteries at Exeter and Nursling (Hants), he left England in 718, working first with Willibrord in Frisia before beginning his own work in Hesse and Thuringia as regional bishop. Appointed archbishop in 731 and ultimately papal legate, supported by Frankish rulers, he became a leading ecclesiastical figure in Europe. In 754 he returned to evangelize in Frisia, where he and his followers were killed by heathen robbers. In establishing an organized church under the authority of the pope, setting up sees in Bavaria, and effecting the reform of the Frankish church, he contributed to the extension of papal authority in Europe. His success depended on fellow Anglo-Saxons joining him, as bishops in new sees, monks, nuns, and teachers in new foundations, which, like his great abbey of Fulda on the borders of Hesse and Thuringia, became centres of English learning. Surviving correspondence shows Boniface engaged in formal consultation with the pope and leading Anglo-Saxon churchmen, in personal exchanges, particularly with nuns and abbesses who sent him books and vestments, and actively concerned about religious and moral affairs in England.

Audrey MacDonald

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Boniface, Saint (c.675–754) English missionary. In 716 he left England to convert the pagan Germans. For his success, Boniface received the Archbishopric of Mainz in 751. In 754 he was martyred by pagans in Friesland. He is buried in Fulda, Bavaria, and is venerated as the Apostle of Germany. His feast day is June 5.

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Boniface, St (680–754). Christian ‘apostle to Germany’. He was a native of Devon who, after earlier missionary visits, received the support of the pope for his work in Germany in 722. The challenge involved in felling the Oak of Thor at Geismar led to a breakthrough in recognition, and not much later he laid the foundations of church organization in Germany. After becoming archbishop of Mainz, he returned to missionary work in Frisia where he was martyred. Feast day, 5 June.

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Saint Boniface (sānt bŏn´Ĭfās), former city and historic community, SE Man., Canada, on the Red River opposite Winnipeg. It is now part of Winnipeg. It is an industrial center, with large stockyards and meatpacking plants, oil refineries, flour mills, and breweries. St. Boniface was founded in 1818 as a Roman Catholic mission. Many of the inhabitants are French-speaking. A Roman Catholic cathedral is there, as is St. Boniface College, affiliated with the Univ. of Manitoba.

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Boniface, St (680–754), Anglo-Saxon missionary, born Wynfrith, known as the Apostle of Germany. He was sent to Frisia and Germany to spread the Christian faith and was appointed Primate of Germany in 732; he was martyred in Frisia. His emblem is an axe, as the instrument of his martyrdom, and his feast day is 5 June.

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Saint Boniface, d. 1009, German missionary, known also by his lay name, Bruno of Querfurt. He evangelized the Balts and died a martyr. He is known as the Apostle of the Prussians. Feast: June 19.