Posted by: fvbcdm | June 5, 2012

Feast of Saint Boniface (5 June 2012)


During my grammar school days at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in New Orleans, we studied not only our catechism but also what was called “bible history” which led into church history. And, like most schoolchildren, I suppose, I enjoyed the stories of everyone from Adam and Eve down to the Middle Ages.  One of those historical figures was Saint Boniface, whom we celebrate on June 5.   He was a British monk who eventually went to what is now Germany and spent the rest of his life working for the spread of our faith in that part of continental Europe.  I can remember very well the textbook that we used to study church history; one of the many illustrations in it was that showing Saint Boniface cutting down an oak tree somewhere in central Europe.  He was all dressed in the vestments of a bishop, including the chasuable and the miter.  We kids were not bothered by the unlikely picture of a bishop in full episcopal vestments chopping down a large oak tree; details like that didn’t bother us at all.  To this day, when I think or read or hear of Saint Boniface, I think of that dramatic picture of a fully-vested bishop wielding his ax and cutting down a large oak tree somewhere in a forest in central Europe.


This great apostle’s original name had been Winfrid, a pagan name, but when he became a monk, he took the name of Boniface, which means in Latin “one who does good.”  He became the bishop of the German city of Mainz, from where his influence spread through all that region.  I remember our first river cruise in Europe with my travel group as we passed the city of Mainz early in the morning.  I stood on the deck of our river cruiser and watched the city of Mainz go by early in the “dawn’s early light,” and remembered the picture in my church history book of the saintly bishop cutting down a large tree while wearing the vestments of a bishop, including the headdress called a miter!  Many a Catholic of today who is of German extraction owes some of his or her faith to the English monk who became a missionary and bishop in central Europe. So let us today ask our Lord through the intercession of Saint Boniface to restore the unity of the Church in what is now Germany and all of central Europe—the cause to which Saint Boniface gave his life both in mission and then in martyrdom. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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