Ivica Čairović

Boniface – Missionary and/or Reformer

pages: 897-914


Wynfrith, second name Boniface, was born around 680 in England. He started his education in England in the manner of Roman school and tradition. At thirty, he was ordained and set out to preach in Friesland. Because of political instability Boniface went into Hesse and Bavaria, having secured the support of the Pope and of Charles Martel for his work there. It was the beginning of a highly successful missionary effort, and the planting of a vigorous Christian church in Germany, where Boniface was eventually consecrated bishop. He asked the Christian Saxons of England to support his work among their kinsmen on the continent, and they responded with money, books, supplies, and above all, with a steady supply of monks to assist him in teaching and preaching. After Boniface’s third trip to Rome, Charles Martel erected four dioceses in Bavaria (Salzburg, Regensburg, Freising, and Passau) and gave them Boniface as archbishop and metropolitan over all Germany east of the Rhine. In 745, he was granted Mainz as metropolitan see. In 742, one of his disciples, Sturm (also known as Sturmi, or Sturmius), founded the abbey of Fulda not far from Boniface’s earlier missionary outpost at Fritzlar. High point of Boniface’s career was the Concilium Germanicum, organized by Carloman in 743. While Boniface was not able to safeguard the church from property seizures by the local nobility, he did achieve one goal, the adoption of stricter guidelines for the Frankish clergy, which often hailed directly from the nobility. Boniface balanced this support and attempted to maintain some independence, however, by attaining the support of the papacy and of the Agilolfing rulers of Bavaria. In Frankish, Hessian, and Thuringian territory, he established the dioceses of Würzburg, and Erfurt. By appointing his own followers as bishops, he was able to retain some independence from the Carolingians, who most likely were content to give him leeway as long as Christianity was imposed on the Saxons and other Germanic tribes.

The main goal of the study is to begin to research if Boniface was really missionary or reformer, and what was his main role in the papal plan for the regions of Germanic tribes.




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