Crypt of St Boniface

St Boniface (Latin: Bonifacius; German: Bonifatius; born "Wynfrith") (c. 672 - 5 June 754) was the Archbishop of Mainz from 745 until 754.

Boniface was born in Credition in Devon, modern England. Early in life he entered into a monastic life, partially against the wishes of his father. He was trained at Adescancastre and Nursling before becoming a teacher, and at age 30 he became a priest. In 716 he travelled to Frisia as a missionary to convert them to Christianity, however his efforts were futile due to the war between Charles Martel of the Franks and the Frisian king Radbod.

He set out again in 718 and travelled to Rome, and in 719 was renamed Boniface and set out to convert and reorganise the church in Germany by Pope Gregory II. He labored five years in Hesse, Thuringia, and Frisia, and on 30 November 722 was made the bishop of all territories yet to be Christianised. He came under the protection of Charles Martel in 723. That year he cut down the oak tree sacred to Thor in Büraburg near modern Fritzlar, and the people after Boniface was not struck down by lightning converted to Christianity. He constructed a church from the wood and established the Bishopric of Büraburg, the first Bishopric in Germany north of the Roman limes. In 732 he returned to Rome to report his works, and the Pope raised him to Archbishop with jurisdiction over Germany.

Boniface returned to Germany and converted thousands of people, before tackling the problem of Christians in Germany who had long been out of contact with the Roman Catholic church. He returned to Rome in 737 and 738 where he was made Papal legate to Germany. In 742 and 743 he founded the Bishoprics of Erfurt and Würzburg respectively, and in 745 was granted the Bishopric of Mainz as his metropolitan see. When Charles Martel established the Bavarian dioceses of Salzburg, Regensburg, Freising and Passau, Boniface was made the archbishop over all of them.

In 754 he returned to Frisia to pursue his goal of converting the inhabitants. He baptised thousands, and called a meeting of all converts near Dokkum. Instead of Christians, he was beset upon by armed villagers who killed him in retaliation of his destruction of their shrines. His remains were eventually buried in the Abbey of Fulda.

Preceded by:

St Boniface

Succeeded by:

new creation Bishop over Germany
722 - 732
Archbishop over Germany
732 - 754
Gewielieb Archbishop of Mainz
745 - 754