New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Boniface of Mainz

detail of an illustration of Saint Boniface by Cornelis Bloemaert, c.1630Article

Martyr, apostle of Germany. Archbishop of Mainz, born Devonshire, England, 675; died Dokkum, Netherlands, 755. Educated at Exeter, he joined the Benedictine Order at Nutshalling, and was ordained, 705. In 716 he set out on a missionary journey to Friesland, but was obliged to return because of political disturbances. Declining the Abbacy of Nutshalling, he was authorized, 719, by Pope Gregory II to preach to the Germans east of the Rhine. He labored in Frisia with Saint Willibrord, refused the See of Utrecht, offered to him by Willibrord, and continued his missionary work in Thuringia and Hessia. He was called to Rome by Gregory II who consecrated him regional bishop, 722, giving him the name Boniface, probably the Latinized form of Winfrid, his original name. Returning to Hessia, he destroyed the sacred oak of the thunder god, Thor, at Geismar, thus dealing a blow to heathenism. In 732 Gregory III made him archbishop with no definite province. He established the Church in Bavaria, founding the bishoprics of Passau, Ratisbon, Salzburg, Freising, Eichstadt, and Neuburg. Commissioned by Pope Zacharias, 741, to reform the whole Frankish Church, he held councils, established bishoprics, and, laboring against countless difficulties, effected a complete reform of the clergy. He was made Archbishop of Mainz, 748, and resigned his see, 754, to accomplish his long-dreamed-of mission to Friesland. He built a number of churches there, and was slain by pagan savages. His works include letters, a grammar, sermons, poems, and a penitential. His genius for organization brought about the unification of the Church in Germany. Patron of Germany. Emblems: oak, axe, book, fox, scourge, fountain, raven, sword. Buried in the cathedral at Fulda. Feast, Roman Calendar, 5 June.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Boniface of Mainz”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 August 2012. Web. 25 October 2020. <>