Happy Feast Day of St. Boniface, the “Apostle of the Germans” and patron saint of Germany!
“In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.”― Saint Boniface
June 5 is the feast of St. Boniface, the English Benedictine monk who planted Christianity and Benedictine spirituality in Germany. Boniface was first a Benedictine monk and later commissioned by Pope Gregory II in the 8th century to preach the gospel in Germany. For 35 years he did missionary work in various parts of Germany and was consecrated as Bishop of Germany in 722. Later he served as the Archbishop of Mainz, having founded the dioceses of Wurzburg and Erfurt. His efforts went to ensure that political authorities and rulers were committed to Christianity.
He traveled to many churches to encourage them, but his mission to Frisia, which resulted in many conversions, ultimately led to his martyrdom. His relics were brought to Fulda where a monastery founded in 744 served as a base for his missionary work.
The Benedictine community rebuilt the monastery church to house his relics. Pilgrims continue to visit and pray at the tomb of St. Boniface, which lies in a crypt beneath the high altar. A statue of St. Boniface is also a Fulda landmark.
There are many churches and monasteries that were consecrated by or named after St. Boniface.
Kloster Benedicktbeuren is a Benedictine monastery consecrated by St. Boniface in 725. Later the Basilica of St. Benedict, the abbey church, was built in the 1680s. Beneath the main altar is an arm relic of St. Benedict, gifted by Charlemagne around 800, making it the third most significant place of Benedictine pilgrimage (other sites include Montecassino and St. Benoit-sur-Loire.)
It would take more than two Benedictine pilgrimages to see all of the churches and monasteries influenced by St. Boniface! And it will take a lifetime to follow his advice:
“Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock.”
― Saint Boniface
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