Pope Gregory II Sends Boniface to Spread Christianity among Pagans in Germany

Pope Gregory II Sends Boniface to Spread Christianity among Pagans in Germany

Boniface Cutting Down a Sacred Tree

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Saint Boniface receives from Pope Gregory II to spread Christianity to the pagans in modern-day Germany. Born Winfrid (Wynfrith or Wynfryth) in the kingdom of Wessex (modern-day Devon, England), he is given the name Boniface by the pope in honor of fourth-century martyr Boniface of Tarsus.

Because of his success converting the Germanic tribes, he also becomes known as the Apostle of the Germans and is named the patron saint of Germany.

Perhaps the most famous event during Boniface's missionary work occurs in Hessia where, according to the stories, he cuts down a tree which is believed to sacred to Thor. Boniface challenges Thor to strike him dead if he's really upset at the loss of the tree. Instead of lightning, though, comes a strong wind which helps knock the large tree over. Large numbers of pagans proceed to convert and Boniface uses the wood to build a church.

Especially significant is the relationships Boniface develops with secular rulers of the Franks, particularly the Carolingians. He is martyred by a group of Frisians who kill him and his companions in 754.

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