Blessed Boniface of Canterbury

detail of a medallion of Saint Boniface of Canterbury, date and artist unknown; swiped from Santi e BeatiMemorial


Born to the nobility, member of the ducal House of Savoy. Eleventh child of Count Thomas of Savoy. Brother of Queen Beatrix of Savoy. Uncle of Queen Eleanor of England.

Carthusian monk at the Grande Chartreuse. Prior of the monastery in Natua, France. Bishop of Belley, France in 1233. Chosen archbishop of Canterbury, England by Pope Innocent IV in 1243. Attended the Council of Lyon in 1245. He revised the court, eliminated unnecessary offices in the archdiocese, and worked to get the nearly bankrupt diocese back to fiscal health. Tried to reduce royal meddling in the Church’s internal affairs and control of its appointments.

Tried to implement reforms in a number of the monasteries in his diocese, but many refused to recognize him or permit his visits. Some of the disputes actually led to violence, and he was forced to excommunicate some clerics to force compliance. Others, however, welcomed his reform efforts, and were impressed with his personal piety, his charity, and his simple lifestyle. In 1258 he was chosen the leader of a group of king‘s counselors who represented the interests of the English barons against the king. In May 1261 he called a council at Lambeth castle which led to declarations explaining that the Church had the right to oppose worldly forces and intervention. However, Pope Urban IV needed the support of King Henry and refused to ratify these decrees.

Boniface went into voluntary exile in France from 1262 to 1266, administering his archdiocese as best he could from across the Channel, and continued to oppose Henry’s unilateral appointments to ecclesiastical offices and his taxation of Church property. But he sided with the king on other matters, especially when the barons resorted to civil war. Briefly served as regent of England, and accompanied the king on diplomatic trips to France. Died while trying to settle family business and end feuds between family factions. Later English historians complained of his excessive involvement in worldly politics and his family affairs, and he was far more appreciated by those who knew him in France.


  • c.1207 near Sainte-Hélène-du-Luc in the Savoy region of modern France



Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Boniface of Canterbury“. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 August 2017. Web. 14 June 2021. <>