Feast Day of Saint Boniface — Eighth Century Bishop
The feast of Saint Boniface, celebrated June 5th, honors a man credited for three major life time accomplishments: missionary to and apostle of Germania, reformer of the Frankish church (and its ensuing influence on Western Christianity), and zealous pursuit of an alliance between the papacy and Frankish aristocrats.
Born c. AD 675, in Devon, England, Boniface was martyred for his missionary work on June 5, AD 754, in Frisia (now part of the Netherlands.) It is said that he was attacked and martyred as he read Scripture to new Christian converts on Pentecost Sunday. During his life, many honors were given him, including selection as archbishop and metropolitan of all German territory east of the Rhine.
Boniface, in his whole-hearted desire to convert the German people, destroyed the sacred oak of their pagan God, Thor. Witnesses claimed at the first stroke of the axe, a mighty wind came down and felled the ancient oak. Many were converted to Christianity through the brave action of Bonaface. A popular legend in Germany is that the traditional Christmas Tree began with this event. It is said that Bonaface urged all who were present to take home a fir tree in celebration. The evergreen symbolized peace, immortality, and praise to the Christian God.