History of Boniface

History of Boniface

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Boniface was born around 675 in Devonshire to a very noble family, and his given name was Winfrid (Duckett 340). He was sent to school to be taught by the monks. His parents wanted him to pursue monetary gains, but Winfrid felt called to do religious work thanks, in part, to the monks who often visited him. He fought with his father over his future, but obtained his father's permission and went to the monastery of Adescancastre. Here, he studied under Abbot Wolfhard, "and about seven years later he went to the Abbey of Nhutscelle between Winchester and Southampton" ("Catholic"). There, he studied under Abbot Winbert. Under the guidance of these men, Winfrid became very knowledgeable in numerous subjects including rhetoric and poetry. "At the age of thirty he was ordained priest. Through his abbot the fame of Winfrid's learning soon reached high civil and ecclesiastical circles ("Catholic"). But he did not want to have high civil standing and notoriety. He only wanted to share the gospel with his kinsmen in Germany. He pleaded on numerous occasions to his Abbot, and he finally gave his consent (Duckett 355).

He set out on his mission to Friesland in 716. His trip was cut short, though, due to political differences in the area. "Towards the end of 717 Abbot Winbert died, and Winfrid was elected to succeed him, but declined and induced Daniel, Bishop of Winchester, to influence the monks to elect another ("Catholic"). During his brief return to England, he resumed his duties as a preacher and pastor, but decided he wanted to visit the Pope in Rome for mission duties (Duckett 362). Upon his visit to Pope Gregory II, the Pope gave him full authority to preach the gospel to everyone in Germany. He worked under Saint Willbrord for three years, and then was summoned by the Pope for further instructions. In the year 722, Pope Gregory ordained him as a regional Bishop, and gave him the name of Boniface. Gregory sent him to Hessia and asked Charles Martel to protect Boniface ("Catholic"). In Lower Hessia, Boniface destroyed the idol of the pagan god, Thor, and made a chapel out of the wood that was destroyed. He converted many people with this tactic showing the pagan god was nothing compared to the Christian God.

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His work moved on to Thuringia. He erected many churches, and was converting many to Christianity, but he feared he could not do what was needed because he was doing so much by himself. In 731, Pope Gregory II died, and was succeeded by Pope Gregory III. Boniface sent a letter to him pleading for help in the mission work he was doing. Upon this letter, the Pope ordained him Archbishop and gave him authority to name bishops as he saw fit ("Catholic"). He erected many monasteries and churches up until his visit to Rome in 738. Boniface planned on announcing his resignation from the church, and would devote all of his time to mission work with the Saxons, but Gregory III would not let him resign ("Catholic"). Boniface continued his work, now in Bavaria, building churches, monasteries, and Dioceses. In 741, Charles Martel died, and was succeeded by his sons, Pepin and Carloman. Pope Gregory III also died and was succeeded by Zachary. After a letter written by Boniface to Zachary and Carloman, the first German synod was held("Catholic"). More of these synods would take place over the next couple years, and these would strengthen faith and discipline within the order of the bishopric. Then, at the request of Pepin and Carloman, Boniface was given the authority over Bavaria and Gaul ("Catholic"). Through the guidance and spiritual leadership of Boniface, Carloman renounced his share of the throne with his brother and spent the rest of his life as a monk.

Boniface spent the rest of his life reaffirming his previous works and missions. He continued to hold synods, and he continued to do what he felt he was called to do by God. After he was satisfied with the work he had accomplished, he set off to do what he originally planned, converting the Fresians (Duckett). In 755, Boniface and some of his friends and followers were martyred. He is now known as Saint Boniface, and will forever be known in the Christian faith as one of the most highly regarded workers for Christ and His will.

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