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Boniface was born Winfrid around the year 680 to a respected and noble English family, and it was to his father’s great displeasure that, at the young age of five, his son devoted himself to the monastic life.

Educated at the monastery school close to Exeter, with further studies guided by the monks and, later, directed by the learned Abbot Winbert at the Abbey of Nursling in Winchester, Boniface became a very learned and popular scholar.

His popularity and skill in teaching attracted many other students and scholars, for whose benefit he wrote the first Latin grammar known to have been compiled in English. After continued studies, he was ordained to the priesthood at the age of thirty.

Convinced of his calling to be a missionary, Winfrid declined the position of abbot at the monastery of Nursling and obtained from his superior permission to travel to Frisia to assist the famous missionary, St. Willibrord, who had been struggling for a long time to bring the Gospel home to his people. However, the mission ended in failure and Winfrid was forced to return to England a few months later.

Refusing to give up though, Winfrid set out for Rome to ask the Holy Father himself for an official mission and the backing of the Church. Pope Gregory II consented, gave him the new name of Boniface, and assigned him to work in Thuringia, Germany, where the Church was in bad shape, isolated, and subjected to superstition and heresy.

However, Boniface received no help from the local clergy and once more traveled to Frisia to join Willibrord and get training by the expert missionary. He was so helpful that St. Willibrord wanted to make Boniface his successor; but after three years of training, Boniface still felt the pull of the missionary work in Germany that he had left behind. Returning first to Rome where he was consecrated bishop by the pope, Boniface set out once more to Hesse.

Boniface had enormous work ahead of him. The pagans, though attracted to Christianity, were still bound by fear and superstition to their old religion and gods. To prove to them the falseness of their beliefs and the reality of the one true God, Boniface called the people together and, approaching the “sacred” oak of Geismar, struck it down with an axe, whereupon it split into four parts and fell to the grown in the shape of a cross. Yet, there stood Boniface, still holding his axe, unharmed by their gods.

The work of evangelization and conversion advanced steadily thereafter; and in answer to his appeal, monks and nuns enthusiastically began to arrive from England to assist him.

Boniface also lent his own support to the Frankish Church which was also in sad need of repair, setting up councils and synods and instituting reforms which revitalized the Church there.

One day, while camped in the open fields near the banks of the little river Borne with his attendants, he was awaiting the arrival of some confirmandi when they were attacked by a hostile band of pagans. The saint exhorted his companions to faith and courage and they all died the death of martyrs. St. Boniface’s body was taken to Fulda where it still rests.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for September 22, 2019

Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little. Remember...

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September 22

 

Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little.
Remember that he of whom you are speaking
is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation,
God can make him a saint,
in spite of his present weakness.

St. Thomas of Villanova


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Thomas of Villanova

When the emperor discovered his secretary had written the na...

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St. Thomas of Villanova

Thomas was born in Castile, Spain in 1488. His family was not wealthy, but his father’s work as a miller allowed the family to be charitable and generous towards the poor. He was sent to school at the University of Alcala at the age of sixteen, where he threw himself enthusiastically into his studies and, ten years later, became professor of philosophy.

In 1516 he joined the Augustinian Friars at Salamanca and was ordained a priest two years later. He eventually became prior in several houses of the Augustinian Order, notably Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid. When Don Jorge, the Archbishop of Valencia, resigned, the emperor did not offer Thomas the see because he knew the high position would be a grievous trial for the humble friar-priest. Instead, the emperor nominated a religious of the Order of St. Jerome. However, when the emperor discovered his secretary had written the name of Brother Thomas of Villanova on the letter of nomination, he took it as a sign from God and appointed Thomas bishop. The year was 1545.

Thomas immediately began to restore the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was deeply committed to the poor, established care for orphans and convinced the emperor to provide funds to organize priests for service among the converted Moors who had lapsed back into their old religion for lack of a shepherd.

Renowned for his personal charity, sanctity and austerities, Thomas was eventually consecrated archbishop. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent supporter of the Reformation against the Lutheran heresy.

Thomas of Villanova died in 1555 of angina at the age of sixty-seven. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs F...

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The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 

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As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.

During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.

She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.” 

Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men. 

After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”

A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul. 

 By Catherine Ferdinand

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“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. 

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