Saint Boniface, bishop, missionary and martyr was hacked to death by a band of Frisian idol-worshippers on this day, June 5, 754, along with 52 of his companions. His life was one of tireless struggle to convert the pagans of Germania, steeped in dark, superstitious practices. The famous story of his boldly chopping down the ‘Donar Oak’, which the Frisians held so sacred that any man who harmed the tree would himself die, has become a symbol of the magnanimous freedom of Christianity, contrasted to the pusillanimous slavery to false gods, which are little more than a mask for deeper, demonic forces, which seem, of late, again to be coming to the fore. .
Winfrid, or Wynryth, his birth name, was a monk, sent on his missionary journey to the north of Germany by Pope Gregory VII, the great Hildebrandt, who renamed him ‘Boniface’, the ‘one who does good’. The Pope’s choice, like Christ’s of Peter’s, was prophetic, for Boniface indeed did much good, more or less converting what we now know as ‘Europe’ (he is one of her primary patrons), dedicating his life to the cause of Truth, and leading others thereto, regardless of the difficulties and labours.
Boniface’s first mission to the pagans was unsuccessful, and it was only after he had received this specific mandate from the Holy Father, that his efforts turned the tide of incipient Germania towards Christianity, culminating in shedding his blood. Our work for God must always bears the most fruit when done under obedience of some sort, manifesting the voluntas Dei through properly constituted authority.