Boniface Apostle & Missionary to Germany 730 AD Speaks

boni_1I like to include again some other testimony and words from an ancient Early Church missionary of the first Millennium, in a day that mission work was virtually equal with being a Christian. May those days come again, and I believe they are. May we learn from and be inspired by their holy examples. Wholehearted holy! Ha! (gotcha!)

Boniface (675-754?), “the Apostle to Germany,” was born Winfrid of a prosperous Anglo-Saxon family of the lower nobility in Exeter, England. He was a precocious child and was placed at an early age in a monastery where he received a good education in the Scriptures and the church fathers as well as the classics. He was ordained at around the age of thirty and was then placed in charge of an abbey school.

He soon became dissatisfied with this cloistered life (will you?) however, and was attracted to the new movement of missionary work on the Continent. In time he became one of the most effective of the Anglo-Saxon missionaries to the Continent at that time. He became a bishop in 722 at which time he was given the name Boniface. In 744 he founded the monastery at Fulda which became a famous center for missionary outreach. Later he became Archbishop of Mainz. However, despite his high office, he was always a missionary at heart. On one of his journeys, he and fifty-three of his companions were killed by an angry pagan mob. The letters of Boniface reflect a wide range of interests, but the most conspicuous aspect of them is what they reveal of the missionary-bishop’s compassion for the German people , and his burning desire for their conversion to Christianity. Hear his passionate words:

Boniface requests the prayers of Abbot Aldherius for himself and for the German idolaters [732-754]

To his reverent brother, Abbot Aldherius, Boniface, humble servant of the servants of Good, sends greetings in Christ.

From the depths of my heart I beg your gracious love to bear me in mind in your holy prayers and I urge you to implore for me our merciful God, who is the author of our wanderings, that he will hold our frail vessel in His guiding and protecting hand, preserve it from the waves of the german tempests, and bring it safely to the peaceful shore of the heavenly Jerusalem. Salute all our dear brethren in God in your holy community with our kiss of love and devotion. We commend ourselves to your prayers, so that, living or dying, we may be one with you in loving communion. And to make stronger this bond between us, we shall strive to deserve the affection of your brotherly love so far as lies within our power.

We beg you also to intercede for the peoples of the Germanic race who are given over to the worship of idols, beseeching our Lord, who gave His own blood for the salvation of the whole world and who desires that all men shall be saved and shall come to a knowledge of the truth, that He may bring them to acknowledge their Creator and lead them into the bosom of Mother Church.

We earnestly pray that your blessedness may be well  and prosperous in Christ.

25 Boniface Writes to the English, Asking Prayers for the Conversion of the Saxons (738)

To all his most reverend colleagues in the episcopate, to the venerable priests, deacons, canons, clerics, abbots and abbesses of communities, to the lowly monks who obey for Christ’s sake, to the consecrated and devout virgins and all professed nuns of Christ, indeed to all those Catholics of the English race who fear God, Boniface, a native of the same race, legate of the Universal Church in Germany and servant of the Apostolic See, formerly called Wynfrith, but now, through no deserts of his own, archbishop: greetings in the humble communion and sincere love of Christ.

With humble prayer, we beseech you, brethren, of your charity to remember our lowly selves in your prayers, that we may escape the cunning snares of the devil and the buffetings of evil men, that the word of the Lord may prosper and be glorified. We beg you to be instant in prayer that God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, may convert the hearts of the pagan Saxons to the faith, may make them repent of the devilish errors in which they are entangled and unite them to the children of Mother Church. Have pity on them, because their repeated cry is: ” We are of one and the same blood and bone.” Remember that we go the way of all flesh and in hell no man praises the Lord nor can death honor Him.

Be it known that in this undertaking I have the agreement and support and blessing of two Pontiffs of the Roman See. Act, then, on this prayer of mine, that your reward among the angels of heaven may be manifest and enlarged.

May the Almighty Creator keep your unity and common bond of love in force for evermore.

(Tangl, 46)

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