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BONIFACE


657


BONIFACE


for further directions. Bynnan promptly executed liis commission and soon returned with the pope's answer, expressing satisfaction with wliat had been done and a desire to confer witli Winfrid personally. AVinfrid accordingly set out for Rome, taking his course through France and Burgundy. He was warmly welcomed by the pope, who questioned him carefully, made him take the usual oath of allegiance, received fro:n him a profession of faith, and on 30 No- vember, 722 (723), consecrated him a regional bishop, with the name Boniface. Some say that Winfrid had taken this name at the time of his religious pro- fession; others, that he received it on his first visit to Rome. The same discrepancy of opinion e.xists in regard to its derivation from bonum jacerc or bomim fatum: perhaps it is only an approximate Latinization of Wyn-frith. Pope Gregory then sent Boniface back v\ith letters to his diocesans in Thuringia and Hessia demanding obedience for their new bishop. A letter was also addressed to Charles Martel asking his pro- tection. Boniface himself had received a set of eccle- siastical canons for his guidance.

Boniface returned to I'pper Hessia and repaired the losses which occurred during his absence, many having drifted back into paganism; he also admin- istered everywhere the Sacrament of Confirmation. He continued his work in Lower Hessia. To show the heathens how utterly powerless were the gods in whom they placed their confidence, Boniface felled the oak .sacred to the thunder-god Thor, at Geismar, near Fritzlar. He had a chapel built out of the wood and dedicated it to the prince of the Apostles. The heathens were astonished that no thunderbolt from the hand of Thor destroyed the offender, and many were converted. The fall of this oak marked the fall of heathenism. Tradition tells us that Boniface now passed on to the River Werra and there erected a church of St. Vitus, around which sprang up a town which to the present day bears the name of Wannfried. At Eschwege he is said to have destroyed the statue of the idol Stuffo. Thence he went into Thuringia.

The difficulties that confronted him here were very great. Christianity had indeed made great progress, but it had become mixed up with heretical tenets and pagan customs. This was due to a great extent to some Celtic missionaries, several of whom had never been ordained, while others had been raised to the priesthood by non-Catholie bishops, though all performed priestly fvmctions. These taught doc- trines and made use of ceremonies at variance with the teaching and use of the Roman Church, especially in regard to the celebration of Easter, the eonierring of baptism, celibacy, the papal and episcopal au- thority. Besides, many were wanting in education, some scarcely able to read or write, and equally ready to hold services for the Christians and to offer sacrifices to the idols for the heathens. A neighbour- ing bishop (probably of Cologne) also gave trouble, by laying claim to a part of the district under Boni- face's jurisdiction and treating his authority as an intrusion, thereby indirectly strengthening the party of the heretics. All this caused him great anxiety and suffering, as may be seen from his letters to England. He overcame all, thanks to his episcopal dignity and to his own personality, full of courage and zeal in the cause which he defended, and sup- ported by the authority of the pope and of Charles Martel. His friends helped him not only by their prayers, but also by material aid. Many valuable books, ecclesiastical articles, and the like were sent to him with words of encouragement. Numbers of men and women went to Germany at different times to be his helpers. Among them were Lullus, Dene- hard, Burchard, Wigbert, Sola, Witta (called also Wizo and Albinus) Wunibald, Willibald and the pious women Lioba, Chuiiihild, Clnmitrude, Berthgit, Walburga, and Thecla. With these, and others re-


cruited in Thuringia and elsewhere in Germany, he contmued his labours. The number of the faithful increased wonderfully, including many of the no- bility and the educated of the country. These as- sisted Mm in the building of churches and chapels. Boniface took care to have institutions in which re- ligious life would be fostered. In Thuringia he built the first monasterj- Ohrdruf on the River Ohrn near Altenberga. He appointed Thecla Abbess of Kitzin- gen, Lioba of Bischofsheim, and Walburga of Heiden- heim.

Pope Gregory II died 11 February, 731, and was succeeded on 18 March by Gregory III. Boniface hastened to send a delegation to the new pontiff, to pay his respects and to assure him of his fidelity. The answer to this seems to be lost. In 732 Boniface wrote again and stated among other things that the work was becoming too much for one man. In an- swer Gregory III congratulated him on his success and praised his zeal, in recognition sending him the pallium, and making him an archbishop, but still without a fixed see. He gave him instructions to appoint bishops wherever he thought it necessarj'. Boniface now enlarged the monastery of Amoneburg and built a church, dedicating it to St. Michael. Another monastery he founded at Fritzlar near the River Eder, which was completed in 734. The church, a more magnificent structure, was not finished before 740. In 738 Boniface made his third journey to Rome, intending to resign his office and devote himself ex- clusively to the mission among the Saxons. He was accompanied by a number of his disciples, who were to see true Christian life in the centre of Christianity. Gregory III received him graciously and was re- joiced at the result of Boniface's labour, but would not allow him to resign. Boniface remained in Rome for about a year and then returned to liis mission in- vested with "the authority of a legate of the Holy See. His first care on his return was the Church in Bavaria.

In 715 (716) Duke Theodo had come to Rome out of devotion, but probably also to secure ecclesiastical order in his provinces. Gregory II sent three eccle- siastics with instructions to do away with abuses. Their work, however, was rendered futile by the death of Theodo in 717 and the subsequent political quar- rels. Boniface had twice passed I hrovigh the country. Now with the help of Duke Odilo and of the nobles, he began the work of reorganization acting entirely according to the instructions of Gregory II. He ex- amined the orders of the clergj', deposed the obstinate, rcordained those who.se ordination he found invalid, provided they had erred through ignorance and were willing to submit to authority. He made a new cir- cumscription of the dioceses and appointed bishops for the vacant sees, viz., the Abbot John to the See of Salzburg, vacant since the death of St. Rupert in 718; Erembert to Freising, vacant since the death of his brother, St. Corbinian, in 730; Gaubald for Ratisbon. Passau had been established and provided for by the pope him.self through the nomination of Vivilo. About this time Boniface founded the new Diocese of Buraburg. and named Witta as its bishop. This diocese existed only for a short time, during the administration of two bishops, and was then joined to Augsburg. Somewhat later the dioceses of Eichstatt and Erfurt (Erphe.sfurt) were formed, and Willibald was consecrated bishop for the former about October, 741; for the latter Boniface appointed as first (and last) bishop Adalar, who, it seems, never received episcopal consecration, as he is continually spoken of as a priest. Burchard was chosen for Wiirzburg.

Charles Martel had died 22 October, 741, at Quiercy on the Oise and was succeeded by his sons Carloman and Pepin. In Rome Pope Gregory III died 28 No- vember, 741, and was followed by Zachary. Carlo- man asked Boniface, his former preceptor, to a con- sultation. The result of this was a letter to the pope