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Scenes from the life of Boniface: pagan baptism (above) and martyr's death (below) in: Fulda Sacramentary (early 11th century), Bamberg State Library , Msc.Lit.1, fol. 126v

Bonifatius , maiden name Wynfreth (also Wynfrith , Winfrid , Winfried , * around 673 in Crediton ; † June 5, 754 or 755 at Dokkum in Friesland ), was one of the most famous Christian missionaries and the most important church reformer in the Franconian Empire . He was mission archbishop , papal legate for Germania , bishop of Mainz , most recently bishop of Utrecht and founder of several monasteries , including Fulda . Because of his large-scale missionary activity, carried out with Franconian support in what was then still predominantly non-Christian Germania , he has been venerated by the Catholic Church as the “ Apostle of the Germans” since the 16th century .

Life, work and activity

Entry into the monastery, education, ordination and work as a teacher

Wynfreth was about 673, at least 675 in a noble Anglo-Saxon family in Crediton in the then little kingdom Wessex in the south west of England born and as puer oblatus in the Benedictine monasteries Exeter ( Old English Aet Exanceastre ) and Nursling ( Nhutscelle ) at Southampton educated. In the latter, he was ordained a priest at the age of about 30 . Wynfreth worked as a teacher of grammar and poetry until he began his missionary work in the eastern part of the Franconian Empire and its peripheral areas. By this time he was already known as a scholar, including the author of a new Latin grammar.

Missionary activity

The missionary activity of Boniface is within the Anglo-Saxon missionary movement to see the 7th and 8th century, after Pope Gregory the Great by his missionaries, led by Augustine of Canterbury in the paths led Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons in their turn the conversion of yet not or only superficially Christianized Germanic tribes on the continent aimed at, especially the related Saxons . It was also about their integration into a hierarchical church organization subordinate to the Pope with a metropolitan arrangement (subordination of the dioceses of a church province to the authority of the archbishop metropolitan ) based on the model of the missionaries and their successors such as Benedict Biscop , Ceolfrid and Theodor von Tarsus im Opposite to the Irish Scottish Church and the Irish Scottish missionary movement directed by it towards Rome, the Anglo-Saxon Church. Benedictine self-image monasteries formed the basis of these activities in view of the extensive lack of urban centers. In 716 Boniface made his first missionary trip to the Frisians . However, this failed because of the Frisian Duke Radbod , an opponent of the Christian-Franconian missionary work, who had just recaptured southwestern Friesland from the Franks. So Wynfreth returned to Nursling in the autumn of 716, where he was elected abbot the following year . To what extent he was in contact with Willibrord , an Anglo-Saxon missionary in Friesland, is not exactly known. Willibrord had already started missioning the Frisians in 695, but now had to experience how his work collapsed due to Radbod's successes. From these experiences Bonifatius later drew the consequences for his further missionary work by looking for a close connection to the spiritual power of the Pope and the secular power of the Franconian housekeepers .

In 718 Wynfreth gave up his position as abbot and left England forever, first to make a pilgrimage to Rome . There he received the order from Pope Gregory II on May 15, 719 to “make the secret of faith known to the unbelieving peoples”. Under the name Bonifatius (“Bringing the Good Fate”) given to him by the Pope , he began his mission again with the Frisians, this time in collaboration with Willibrord. Although the external conditions this time were much more favorable than on Boniface's first missionary trip - Radbod had died in the meantime - there were apparently considerable tensions between the two missionaries, and so they separated in 721. After that, Boniface traveled through areas in what is now Hesse for over twelve years , Thuringia and Bavaria .

The missionary journeys of Boniface can be imagined as expeditions on which he went with warriors, craftsmen and a larger retinue in order to establish settlements and monasteries . His missionary wish met with the interests of the Frankish housekeeper, Karl Martell , who (like his successors) saw Christianity and a tightly organized imperial church as a bracket that seemed suitable to promote the cohesion of his empire. So after his second trip to Rome in 723 he issued Boniface a letter of protection with which he returned to his mission area.

The felling of the Donar oak

Boniface falls the Donariche - color lithograph c. 1900 after a painting by Heinrich Maria von Hess 1834/44

The priest Willibald of Mainz reported in his Vita Sancti Bonifatii of a special event at Geismar , where the god Thor consecrated Donareiche standing and has long been revered. The North Hessian town of Geismar, located within sight of the Franconian fortress Büraburg , is now part of Fritzlar as a district . According to Willibald, Boniface decided to fell this oak. The numerous attendees, including, according to Willibald, a large number of Frisians (who probably belonged to the Germanic tribe of the Chattas living there ), eagerly awaited the reaction of the Germanic deity Donar, to whom the oak was consecrated. She was deeply impressed that this did not happen.

In his writings, Boniface referred to trees consecrated to Donar as idols , the worship of which, according to Christian doctrine, constitutes a violation of the Ten Commandments . It can therefore be assumed that he wanted to set an example for both those who had already converted to Christianity and those who were still to be converted with the felling of the Donar Empire, in order to demonstrate the powerlessness and non-existence of the Germanic gods and to prevent them from worshiping them.

With the felling of the oak, Boniface may have intended to impressively demonstrate the superiority of the one God of the Christians over the old gods and their local cults , who have been proven impotent, by means of a symbolic act and by establishing a founding myth to initiate a fundamental religious reorganization to direct. This intention is confirmed by the news that he had built an oratory consecrated to the apostle Peter , venerated as the guardian of the gates of heaven and the foundation of the Christian church, from the wood of the oak , thereby lending the memory of the unique symbolic act duration. Around 732 the building of a dedicated to St. Petrus church and a monastery in Fritzlar mentioned. It is always assumed that the oratory and the first church built under Wigbert were already at the current location of the Fritzlar Cathedral . Although Willibald's written tradition speaks of two different places, namely Geismar as the location of the Donareiche and Fritzlar, which is only 1.5 km away as the location of the church, it is often assumed that these places are identical and that the cathedral is located the place of the former Danube oak, for which there is no evidence.

Some historians assume that Boniface did not take great risks with his behavior. He could count on the protection of the Frankish garrison of the Büraburg in the event that the Chatti attacked him because of the degradation of their traditional beliefs, which was evident in the felling of the oak that was sacred to them. The Franks were Christianized, the Büraburg had been in their hands for several decades, and Geismar, as archaeological studies have shown, a farming and craftsmen's place that delivered its products to the Büraburg and the surrounding area, was already through these contacts familiar with Christianity.

Development of the church organization in Thuringia, Main Franconia and Bavaria

Allegedly, from 738 onwards, Boniface was able to regulate the ecclesiastical situation in Baiern and set about reorganizing the dioceses of Regensburg (739), Passau (739), Salzburg (739) and Freising (739). He re-founded the dioceses of Büraburg near Fritzlar (742), Würzburg (741/742), Eichstätt (741 or later) and Erfurt (742). In the meantime, he himself had been appointed mission archbishop and received the diocese of Mainz as his seat in 746 , whose owner Gewiliobus , who came from the Franconian nobility, was deposed at his instigation because of serious misconduct at the Franconian Synod of Les Estiennes of 733 or 744. His attempt to gain the bishop's seat in Cologne and to make it the metropolitan seat of an Austrasian church province had previously failed . Only under his successor Lullus did Mainz become an archbishopric and metropolitan seat with Büraburg, Erfurt and Würzburg as suffragan dioceses . Bonifatius soon lost his influence in Bavaria and it seems that due to the influence of the Irish Virgil von Salzburg, whom he fought all his life, a kind of Damnatio memoriae has come about . In general, the Anglo-Saxon mission fell on the defensive towards the end of Boniface's life, and his influence at court waned in relation to the powerful interests of the Frankish nobility and episcopate. What role he played in the Concilium Germanicum of 742 is just as controversial as the question of the anointing of Pippin the Younger allegedly carried out in 751 by Boniface.

Boniface met in many places of his activity within a largely non-Christian environment groups of the population who had already had more or less loose contact with Christianity. This Christian influence was mainly due to the Franks and their connection to the local greats, in Thuringia also to the missionary work of the aforementioned Willibrord. References to an earlier Irish Scottish mission in this area are not clearly clarified (see proselytizing the chats ). In Thuringia in particular, considerable conflicts arose as a result of the efforts of Boniface to enforce a church organization based on the Roman Catholic model.

Territorial situation of Europe in 737 AD

Death of Boniface and beginning of cultic veneration

It is not known why Boniface set out again to proselytize the Frisians when he was 80 years old . Already in the early life of Boniface it is said that he wanted to die as a martyr . Indeed, there is some evidence that he aspired to martyrdom in order to be able to protect his foundations as a holy patron even after his death . On the way to a confirmation of Frisian Christians on the morning of June 5, 754 or 755, he and his companions were slain by opponents of the Christian-Frankish proselytizing on the bank of the Boorne river near Dokkum .

Willibald names eleven companions by name, including the bishop of Utrecht Eoban and Adalar , who later became the first bishop of Erfurt , so that the symbol number is twelve (number of apostles ). In some of the manuscripts of Vita II from the 9th century, an addition of 52 companions is mentioned, possibly also a symbol number (52 weeks of the year).

Whether his death is to be regarded as martyrdom in the narrower sense or whether it was a mere robbery or murder is more of a theological question. Boniface's contemporaries, however, had no doubts about the interpretation of the process as martyrdom: the onset of cultic veneration can be observed immediately after the event. According to the report of the biographer Willibald, Chapter 8, the bodies of the martyrs were recovered by local Christians and that of Boniface was transferred by ship across the Zuider Sea to Utrecht, where he was initially buried. Then an embassy from Bishop Lullus of Mainz came by ship with the order to transfer the body to the Fulda monastery. The resistance of the locals against the removal of the martyr's body was only broken by a bell miracle (according to Eigil's Vita Sturmi, a fixation miracle). On the thirtieth day after the martyrdom, the corpse had arrived in Mainz (according to Vita Sturmi already in Fulda), where a large crowd had already gathered for a solemn reception, supposedly on divine inspiration, and Bishop Lullus had returned from the royal court at the same time. From there the body was taken to Fulda and buried in a new grave in the Salvatorkirche at the place he had designated. As amicable as Willibald harmonizes it and thus conceals the defeat of Lullus and the Diocese of Mainz in the conflict over the relics, the decision on the final resting place does not seem to have come about. Because according to the testimony of Vita Sturmi, chapter 16f., Which is probably closer to the truth, a bitter dispute broke out over the final resting place for the relics of the martyr between the diocese of Mainz as his official seat and the Fulda monastery chosen by him as the burial place , that of his pupil Sturmius , who immediately rushed to Mainz on the news, was founded on the initiative of Boniface. Lullus, the choir bishops, the entire clergy and the citizens of Mainz tried to prevent the reliquary translation to Fulda by all means in order to keep the new martyr as patron, and only through another miracle, a nocturnal vision of Boniface with a Deacon from Mainz, whose truthfulness he had to confirm under oath on the instructions of Lullus, this resistance was finally overcome. The body was brought by ship via Hochheim am Main to Fulda and there was buried by Lullus, who returned to Mainz the following day, in a new grave (in the [Salvator] church built by Abbot Sturmius). From then on, the monastery flourished through numerous donations from noble landowners in honor of the new patron. This dispute soon also came to the question of the autonomy of the monastery under Abbot Sturmius, based on the Zacharias privilege, in relation to the Archbishop of Mainz, Lullus, who now claimed rule over the monastery as the responsible diocesan. The conflict finally ended with the enforcement of the Fulda claims. Bonifatius was buried in the west of the monastery church of St. Salvator, the so-called Sturmi basilica, from where, after the new construction of the so-called Ratgar basilica on November 1, 819, he was put into a new altar grave on the choir podium in a solemn translation as part of the church consecration West apse was convicted.

Enlargement: the Codex is nailed with a square nail

New studies come to the conclusion that the perpetrators were Frisian opponents of the Christian-Franconian proselytizing who were very well aware of who they were dealing with and therefore targeted the representatives of the foreign religion. The motive of stealing prey, on the other hand, seems to correspond to the barbarian topic, the use of which the biographers tried to control the readers' judgment of the Frisians. The starting point for this conclusion is the Codex Ragyndrudis . It is exhibited as part of a facsimile in the Fulda Cathedral Museum and shows in the original two incisions of different lengths on both the upper and the lower narrow side, each of which is up to a maximum of 62 mm deep and has partly damaged the cover. In addition, there is another cut parallel to the fold and in addition - and this is extremely important for the further interpretation - in the middle of the outer edge of the long side a small hole penetrating the Codex, which indicates that the Codex is nailed with a square nail.

According to tradition, this codex is the book that Boniface kept to protect himself from the murderous blows of attacking Frisians; However, there is no absolute proof that it belonged to his possession like two other books also located in Fulda. In his Vita des Heiligen Willibald knows nothing of a gospel book that the latter is said to have held over his head to protect himself. Only an unknown Utrecht presbyter reported about it in a second vita around 825 and was able to name an old woman as an eyewitness. Here, however, a book of the Gospels is mentioned, which the Codex Ragyndrudis is certainly not. Otloh von St. Emmeram orients himself on these two vites and he also names a gospel book, although he must have already known the Fulda relic. He should have known that these were not gospel texts. So it is possible that there was a second codex that has now disappeared and that was replaced by the Codex Ragyndrudis, or else Otloh did not know the relic. Regardless of this, it should be noted that the Codex Ragyndrudis was not damaged by blows with a sharp weapon while Boniface was holding it in his hand, because then it would have sprung up during the blows and these would not have penetrated so deeply into the parchment; on top of that, Boniface would have had to turn the codex back and forth several times. So it must have been lying on a solid surface when it was hit and nailed up.

The reason for the damage and, above all, the nailing of the Codex Ragyndrudis, which Bonifatius presumably had with him during the Frisian attack, can be understood against the background of Germanic nailing rituals to ward off evil: By hammering nails, illnesses should be cured and accidents warded off, but also other people are harmed or protected from revenants. For this purpose, corpses or the shroud were nailed to the coffin, and thieves were also to be forced to return the stolen property or witches were to be hit. The crosses on the cover of the Codex could be the reason why it was viewed as a Bible, and the perpetrator or perpetrators obviously intended to nail what was in the book as it was dangerous. Thus this ban would have a religious- magical quality, which is not mentioned in the various Bonifatius Vites, presumably because the authors were not aware of the damage to the codex caused by the nailing and the associated ritual context or they were not aware of the nailing at all perceived.

Bonifatius was, as the examination of his bones also kept in Fulda has shown, with his height of 1.85 m to 1.90 m for the time already an outwardly very conspicuous man, whose impression was deepened by the verbal power with the he delivered his sermons. This fact also suggests that the attackers knew very well who they were looking at when they attacked the camp, because Boniface had already worked in this area for some time, as the Frisians he converted show. If the attackers killed him, although he did not offer any resistance and had also asked his companions to take on the martyrdom (at least that is what Willibald reports), they also did it consciously to eliminate a missionary of the Christian faith. It remains to be seen whether the consecration implements that Boniface and his people carried with them were also a target of the attackers because of their material value.

Life dates

The main source for the chronology of Boniface are his letters, as well as Willibald's Vita I and Eigil's Vita Sturmi. The reconstruction was mainly carried out through the work of Tangl, Stengel and Schieffer (see literature below).

Boniface statue in Fulda
  • 672/673 - Wynfreth is born, probably in Crediton (Anglo-Saxons).
  • 716 - first (unsuccessful) mission trip to the Frisians .
  • In 719, Wynfreth received from Pope Gregory II in Rome a missionary power for Germania and his new name Bonifatius. He preached in Friesland , Thuringia , Hesse and Bavaria .
  • 721 - Missionary work in Hesse, establishment of a monastery in Amöneburg .
  • In 722 Pope Gregory II consecrated Boniface in Rome as a mission bishop without a permanent bishopric.
  • 723 Boniface the precipitated the donar dedicated Donareiche at Geismar (Fritzlar).
  • 724 consecrated Bonifatius Church and Monastery of St. Peter in Fritzlar and made Wigbert abbot.
  • In 724 Bonifatius consecrated the Johanniskirche in Altenbergen , the first baptismal church in Thuringia, in which the builder of the Wartburg , Ludwig the Springer , was baptized.
  • Around 725 Bonifatius founded a monastery in Ohrdruf and had the first church of St. Michaelis built. He also appointed Wigbert as abbot in Ohrdruf. Thus, like Amöneburg and Fritzlar, Ohrdruf became a base for missionary work in Thuringia and Hesse.
  • 732 Boniface was from Gregory III. appointed Archbishop of the Eastern Franconian Empire.
  • 737/38 Bonifatius was appointed papal legate for the entire Franconian Empire when he visited Rome .
  • 739 - Reorganization of the dioceses of Regensburg , Freising , Passau and Salzburg .
  • At the beginning of 742, Würzburg and Eichstätt were set up by Bonifatius as bishoprics. Burkard is appointed bishop in Würzburg, Witta in Büraburg by Bonifatius. Burkard and Witta were already bishops when Willibald was ordained bishop on October 21, 741 in Sulzenbrücken by Bonifatius. Boniface tried, together with the Carolingian Karlmann , to reorganize the Franconian Church.
  • 742 - Founding of the diocese of Erfurt by Boniface, he turned to Pope Zacharias with a request for confirmation of "Erphesfurt".
  • 743 Enthronement as Bishop of Mainz
  • In 744 the Fulda monastery was founded on behalf of Bonifatius by his pupil Sturmius , a Benedictine .
  • 746 - Boniface wanted to become Bishop of Cologne, opponents foiled his plan. Boniface became a bishop with his seat in Mainz with the title Archbishop
  • 747 - Burkard, not Boniface, presented the declaration of obedience from the bishops to the Pope in Rome on May 1st .
  • 748 - Pepin III convened a council. The results were agreed directly with the Pope, Boniface was not invited and pushed aside. His request for age-related resignation from the Mainz chair while retaining the office of legate was refused by Pope Zacharias , but the ordination of a choir bishop was permitted.
  • In 751 Pippin the Younger was allegedly anointed by Boniface at the Imperial Assembly in Soissons . Research largely agrees that this information is incorrect, since Bonifatius had already lost all influence at the Franconian court by this time. In addition, this tradition is based on later sources that were created at the time of Charlemagne. In the same year Bonifatius obtained the Zachariasprivileg for Fulda through his envoy Lul from the Pope , through which the independence of the monastery, which was chosen as the burial place, is secured from uninvited interference by church officials.
  • 752 consecration of Lul as choir bishop and thus presumptive successor as bishop of Mainz.
  • 753 Confirmation of Lul as the designated successor on the Mainz chair by Pippin. Boniface secures the orphaned missionary diocese of Utrecht , which is still under his supervision by Karlmann, for the Anglo-Saxon mission from the attempted takeover of the Cologne archbishop Hildegar , who claims it as a suffragan, and is confirmed in his position by Pippin. He returned to Mainz to prepare for his departure to the Frisian mission area.
  • 754 Jan. 6 - Pippin received Pope Stephen II on Ephiphany day in the Palatinate in Ponthion.
  • 754 Feb./March - Megingaud was consecrated Bishop of Würzburg (754–769) by Boniface.
  • 754 - In the spring Boniface went to Friesland. In the summer he became bishop of Utrecht.
  • On June 5, 754 or 755, Boniface and more than 50 companions, including Eoban , who may have been consecrated Bishop of Utrecht shortly before, were slain by Frisian opponents of Christian-Franconian missionary work near Dokkum in Friesland when he wanted to hold a baptism festival.


Boniface's sermons and numerous letters have been preserved (today mostly judged to be false). The sermons are addressed to Christians who have already been converted. They do not deal with the interpretation of Bible texts, but explain the history of salvation or are catechetical explanations of Christian doctrine and Christian duties. The letters, some of which are accompanied by poems, show his nature and work and his goals and illuminate contradicting episodes in his actions and behavior. A grammar with an introductory figure poem and a metric as well as a collection of riddles (aenigmata) about virtues and vices in hexameters have emerged from the school operation . The assumption that some of the glosses (Glossator A) in the Victor Codex (Fulda, Hessische Landesbibl., Cod. Bonif. 1) originate from Bonifatius cannot be proven, but also cannot be ruled out.


Monument of St. Boniface in front of the Mainz Cathedral
Postage stamp (1954) for the 1200th anniversary of death

Boniface was not a great theologian, but he combined missionary zeal with a rare talent for organization and administration. Its historical significance is viewed differently, with the ecclesiastical and political interpretations of its work sometimes contradicting each other considerably.

From a historical and ecclesiastical point of view, Boniface's importance lies in the targeted orientation of the church structures he created towards the center of Rome and the papacy , just as he knew them from the English church and how he knew them, in contrast to his Irish-Scottish predecessors from of the Celtic Church , represented on the continent. By allowing himself to be expressly commissioned by the Pope after an initially somewhat unsuccessful beginning of his missionary work, Boniface gradually succeeded in gaining the necessary recognition and support from the Frankish nobility and at the same time integrating the papacy into developments in Western and Central Europe. On the one hand, he laid the foundation for his successful missionary work, and on the other hand, he was able to develop the beginnings of a church organization with a center in Rome, independent of secular rule in its information and decision-making paths. Although he did not succeed in fully implementing the structural change to a church hierarchy free of aristocratic interests , because he also lacked the support of secular rulers, he was the one who, with the redefinition of Rome as the center of ecclesiastical organization in Europe, made an important contribution Laying the foundation stone for the development of the Christian Occident. Boniface knew how to convince Karl Martell and the tribal leaders of the advantages - especially of the political and cultural unity - of Christianity.

The historical-political interpretation in no way ascribes the importance of the papacy to the Merovingian-Carolingian era as it is today from a church perspective. The Carolingian housekeepers used the papal reputation as representatives of Christ on earth to legitimize themselves, but kept the actual power in their hands at all times through their military power and thus helped the Pope out of difficult situations. So it was a quid-pro-quo situation in which the Franks had the upper hand. Boniface, who acted as a loyal supporter of the Pope and consolidated the organizational form of the church hierarchy oriented towards Rome, at the same time helped the Carolingian house celebrations to strengthen their rule. Since the unification of faith in the Franconian Empire was a stabilizing factor for the Franconian sovereignty over the country and its people, Boniface could count on the support of the house keepers. The alliance between the papacy and the Carolingians subsequently became one of the decisive political constants of the Frankish Empire. The question of the supremacy of one side or the other, which was also included in it, did not, however, play a prominent role until the end of Franconian dominance in Central Europe.


The grave of St. Boniface in the crypt of the High Cathedral in Fulda
Reliquary of St. Boniface in Dokkum
  • Iconographic attributes of the saint venerated as a martyr : pontificals (as bishop) and pallium (as archbishop), occasionally monk's robe or abbot insignia (as monk, abbot and founder of a monastery), and since the second half of the 15th century increasingly individual attributes such as sword or dagger pierced book (as a martyr and messenger of faith), cross staff with double crossbar (as papal legacy), penitential scourge (as a restorer of church discipline), spring or well (according to legend). Not until the 19th century Eichbaum, but not as an attribute, but as a pictorial element in scenic representations.
  • Remembrance days :
    • Roman Catholic: June 5th (day of death), mandatory day of remembrance, festival in the German-speaking area (decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Order of the Sacraments of September 9, 2005, Prot. N. 1402/05 / L), solemn festival in the Diocese of Fulda. Every year around this day, the Boniface pilgrimage to the grave of the saint in the High Cathedral in Fulda takes place. In addition, the 9th of July (transfer of the relics to Fulda), not required day of remembrance in the Fulda Cathedral, and December 1st (bishop consecration), not required day of remembrance in the diocese of Fulda.
    • Anglican: June 5th (anniversary of death).
    • Protestant: June 5th (anniversary of death, commemoration within the meaning of Article 21 of the Confessio Augustana ) for the following churches:
  • Patronage: Bonifatius is the main patron of the Diocese of Fulda and the Diocese of Erfurt and Groningen in the Netherlands; Co-patron of the Haarlem diocese in the Netherlands, patron saint of England and Thuringia and patron saint of beer brewers and tailors . In addition, Bonifatius is the namesake of the pastoral associations (PV) St. Bonifatius Fulda (Deanery Fulda), St. Bonifatius Amöneburg (Dean Marburg-Amöneburg) and St. Bonifatius Bruchköbel (Dean Hanau).
  • Spread of the cult: The veneration as a martyr begins immediately after the murder, as can be seen from letters from Archbishop Cuthbercht of Canterbury and Bishop Milret of Worcester to Lul of Mainz as well as the early Fulda documents. Throughout the Middle Ages and early modern times, however, the worship of Boniface was largely limited to the area around the Fulda Monastery, where the martyr's grave was located, and his official residence in Mainz. Only in the 19th century did the veneration of the saint spread across Germany. On the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the death of St. Boniface in 1855, Pope Pius IX allowed. devotion to the universal Church. In the course of the national movement, Boniface became the "Apostle of the Germans". Only in the course of the neoconfessionalization did the Catholics emphasize the ultramontane (Roman) side of the saint (foundation of the Bonifatiuswerk , Bonifatius jubilee 1855). He is the patron of the Missionary Benedictine Secular Institute of St. Boniface .
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See also


  • Wilhelm Levison (ed.): Vitae Sancti Bonifatii archiepiscopi Moguntini. In: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rer. Germ. in usum scholarum. Hahn, Leipzig 1905. (digitized version) , accessed December 16, 2015.
  • Michael Tangl (Ed.): S. Bonifatii et Lulli epistolae. In: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Epistolae selectae. Volume 1. Weidmann, Berlin 1916.
  • Reinhold Rau (arrangement): Letters from Boniface. Willibald's Life of Boniface. Along with some contemporary documents. Using the translations by M. Tangl u. Ph. H. Külb revised. by Reinhold Rau. 2., unchanged. Edition Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchges., 1988 (first edition 1968), ISBN 3-534-01415-4 .
  • Bengt Löfstedt, George J. Gebauer (Ed.): Bonifatii (Vynfreth) ars grammatica, ars metrica. In: Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. (CCSL) 133. Brepols, Turnhout 1980, ISBN 2-503-01336-8 .
  • Ernst Dümmler (Ed.): Bonifatii carmina. In: Monumenta Germanica Historica. Poetae. Volume 1, pp. 3-15.
  • Pseudo-Boniface: Sermones. In: Migne, Patrologia Latina. Vol. 89, Col. 843-872.


  • Michel Aaij: Boniface's Booklife: How the Ragyndrudis Codex Came to be a Vita Bonifatii. In: The Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe. No. 10, May 2007 ( ).
  • Arnold Angenendt : The early Middle Ages. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-17-017225-5 .
  • Marc-Aeilko Aris , Hartmut Broszinski : The glosses to the letter of James from the Viktor Codex (Bonifatianus 1) in the Hessian State Library in Fulda. Parzeller Verlag and Bonifatius-Verlag, Fulda and Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-7900-0276-3 , ISBN 3-87088-937-3 .
  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzBoniface. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 684-687.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: New information on the legal status of the Fulda Abbey from the Vita Aegil of Brun Candidus. In: Hessisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte. Volume 41, 1991, pp. 111-129.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: Text, image and architecture as carriers of an ecclesiological conception of monastery history. The Carolingian Vita Aegil by Brun Candidus von Fulda (ca.840). In: Gottfried Kerscher: Hagiography and Art. The cult of saints in writing, images and architecture. Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, 1993, pp. 75-106.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: Saint and Book. Reflections on the tradition of the Bonifacius martyrdom on the occasion of the partial facsimile of the Ragyndrudis Codex. In: Hessisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte. Volume 46, 1996, pp. 1-30.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: The murder of the Archbishop Bonifatius by the Frisians. Searching for and shaping a martyrdom out of ecclesiastical necessity? In: Archive for Middle Rhine Church History. Volume 57, 2005, pp. 95-132.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: Sturmi or Bonifatius. A conflict in the age of the Anian reform about identity and monastic self-image as reflected in the altar rituals of Hrabanus Maurus for the Salvator Basilica in Fulda. With appendices to the tradition and critical edition of the tituli as well as to text sources on the architecture and building history of the Salvator Basilica. In: Marc-Aeilko Aris, Susanna Bullido del Barrio (ed.): Hrabanus Maurus in Fulda. With a Hrabanus Maurus bibliography (1979–2009) (= Fuldaer Studien 13). Josef Knecht, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-7820-0919-5 , pp. 123-187.
  • Cornelius Peter Bock : A relic of the apostle of the Germans or Aenigmata s. Bonifacii. In: Freiburg Diocesan Archive . 1868.
  • Albert Delahaye: Holle Boomstammen - De historical mythen van Nederland, ontleend aan Frans Vlaanderen. Tournehem / Zundert 1980.
  • Albert Delahaye: De Ware Kijk op. Part I: Noyon, het land van Béthune en Frisia. Teksten 1-497, Zundert 1984.
  • Heinz Dopsch , Roswitha Juffinger (eds.): Virgil von Salzburg. Missionary and scholar. Contributions to the international symposium from 21.-24. September 1984 in the Salzburg Residence. Office of the Salzburg Provincial Government - Cultural Department, Salzburg 1985.
  • Ernst Friedrich Johann Dronke : Codex Diplomaticus Fuldensis. Cassel 1850.
  • Franz J. Felten (Ed.): Bonifatius - Apostle of the Germans. Mission and Christianization from the 8th to the 20th century. Steiner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08519-X .
  • Franz J. Felten et al. (Ed.): Bonifatius - life and aftermath (754-2004). The shaping of Christian Europe in the early Middle Ages. (= Sources and treatises on the Middle Rhine Church History 121), Society for Middle Rhine Church History, Mainz 2007, ISBN 978-3-929135-56-5 .
  • Franz Flaskamp : The year of Boniface's death. In: Historical yearbook. Volume 47, 1927, pp. 473-488.
  • Stephan Freund : Boniface and the Bavarian dioceses. The hagiographic view. In: Franz J. Felten u. a. (Ed.): Bonifatius - life and aftermath (754-2004). The design of Christian Europe in the early Middle Ages (= sources and treatises on the Middle Rhine Church history 121), Society for Middle Rhine Church History, Mainz 2007, ISBN 978-3-929135-56-5 , pp. 281-293.
  • Michael Glatthaar: Bonifatius and the sacrilege: on the political dimension of a legal term (= Freiburg contributions to medieval history 17). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2004, ISBN 3-631-53309-8 .
  • Erhard Gorys : Lexicon of the saints. dtv, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-423-32507-0 .
  • Hare:  Boniface . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1876, pp. 123-127.
  • Karl Heinemeyer: Boniface. In: Dietmar von der Pfordten (ed.): Great thinkers of Erfurt and the University of Erfurt. Wallstein, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-89244-510-9 .
  • Werner Heinz: The Rise of Christianity. History and archeology of a world religion. Konrad Theiss-Verlag, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1934-6 .
  • Michael Imhof, Gregor K. Stasch (eds.): Bonifatius. From Anglo-Saxon missionary to apostle of the Germans. Imhof, Petersberg 2004, ISBN 3-937251-32-4 (volume of articles).
  • Petra Kehl : Cult and afterlife of St. Boniface. Parzeller-Verlag Fulda 1993.
  • Gisbert Kranz : Twelve reformers. EOS, St. Ottilien 1998, ISBN 3-88096-463-7 .
  • Dorothee von Kügelgen: Bonifatius. Apostle of the Germans. Parzeller, Fulda 2018, ISBN 978-3-7900-0524-0 .
  • Rüdiger Kurth: The nailing of the Codex Ragyndrudis. New aspects to the death of Boniface. In: Archive for Middle Rhine Church History. Volume 62, 2010, pp. 9-14.
  • Josef Leinweber: St. Bonifatius. Live and act. Diocese of Fulda, Fulda 1983.
  • Wilhelm Levison: England and the Continent in the Eighth Century. The Ford Lectures delivered to the University of Oxford at the Hilary Term. 1943. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1946.
  • Hubertus Lutterbach: Bonifatius - with ax and gospel. A biography in letters. Herder, Freiburg 2004, ISBN 3-451-28509-6 .
  • Barbara non-white (ed.): Bonifatius in Mainz. Zabern, Mainz 2005, ISBN 3-8053-3476-1 .
  • Lutz E. von Padberg : Bonifatius. Missionary and reformer. Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-48019-5 (including information on Willibald's Vita sancti Bonifatii).
  • Lutz E. von Padberg: Studies for Boniface adoration. On the history of the Codex Ragyndrudis and the Fulda relics of Boniface. (= Fuldaer Hochschulschriften 25), Verlag Josef Knecht, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-7820-0752-2 .
  • Lutz E. von Padberg and Hans-Walter Stork: The Ragyndrudis Codex of St. Boniface. Partial facsimile edition in the original format of the manuscript and commentary. Bonifatius-Verlag, Paderborn; Parzeller, Fulda 1994, ISBN 3-87088-811-3 .
  • Rudolf Schieffer: New Boniface Literature. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages . Volume 63, 2007, pp. 111–123, online (provides an overview of the latest publications on Boniface).
  • Theodor Schieffer : Anglo-Saxons and Franks. Two studies on the church history of the 8th century. In: Treatises of the humanities and social sciences class 1950. No. 20. Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz in commission from Franz Steiner, Mainz 1950.
  • Theodor Schieffer: Winfrid Bonifatius and the Christian foundation of Europe. Herder, Freiburg 1954, Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1972 (basic)
  • Theodor Schieffer:  Boniface. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , pp. 444-446 ( digitized version ).
  • Stefan Schipperges: Bonifatius ac socii eius. A socio-historical investigation of Winfrid Bonifatius and his social environment. Mainz 1996, ISBN 3-929135-11-6 .
  • Dirk Schümer: Apostle of the Europeans. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . June 5, 2004, No. 129, p. 1.
  • Franz Staab : The Mainz church in the early Middle Ages. The Anglo-Saxons Bonifatius (744 / 48–754) and Lul (754–786). In: Friedhelm Jürgensmeier (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Mainz Kirchengeschichte. Volume 1: Christian Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Echter Verlag, Würzburg 2000, ISBN 3-429-02258-4 , pp. 117-145.
  • Gregor K. Stasch (Ed.): Bonifatius. From Anglo-Saxon missionary to apostle of the Germans. On the 1250th anniversary of the death of St. Boniface. Catalog for the exhibition April 3 to July 4, 2004. Vonderau Museum Fulda, Catalogs Volume 10, Michael Imhof Verlag 2004, ISBN 3-937251-63-4 .
  • Edmund E. Stengel: To the early history of the imperial abbey Fulda. At the same time a literature report. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages. Volume 9, 1952, pp. 513-534 (also in: Edmund E. Stengel: Treatises and investigations for the history of the Reichsabtei Fulda. Parzeller, Fulda 1969, pp. 266-295).
  • Michael Tangl: The year of death of Boniface. In: Journal of the Association for Hessian History and Regional Studies. NF 27, Kassel 1903, pp. 223-250.
  • Heinrich Wagner : Boniface studies. (= Sources and research on the history of the diocese and bishopric of Würzburg 60) Commission publisher Ferdinand Schöningh, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-87717-066-8 .
  • Matthias Werner: Irish and Anglo-Saxons in Central Germany. To the pre-Bonifatian mission in Hesse and Thuringia. In: Heinz Löwe (Hrsg.): The Irish and Europe in the early Middle Ages. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-12-915470-1 , pp. 239-329.
  • Klaus Weyer: From the Celtic shrine to the Carolingian mission monastery - Neustadt am Main. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-8260-6740-2 , pp. 37–73.
  • James Mann Williamson : The life and times of St. Boniface. WJ Knight, Ventnor and H. Frowde, London 1904 ( ).
  • Georg Wolff : Bonifatius' last trip through the Wetterau. In: Alt-Frankfurt. 5, 1913, No. 2, pp. 52-62.

Web links

Commons : Bonifatius  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Saint Boniface  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. a b Schieffer: Bonifatius (see literature), p. 103.
  2. von Padberg: Bonifatius (see literature), p. 13.
  3. The dating to 754 was largely justified by Michael Tangl (see literature below) and Franz Flaskamp (see literature below), as well as Franz Staab, The Mainzer Church in the Early Middle Ages. The Anglo-Saxons Bonifatius (744 / 48–754) and Lul (754–786) (see literature below) p. 126, p. 132f .; ders., Mainz from the 5th century until the death of Archbishop Willigis (47-1011). Mainz as the urban center of Germania in the Carolingian Empire. In: Franz Dumont, Ferdinand Scherf, Friedrich Schütz (Eds.): Mainz. The history of the city. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1998, p. 80. It refers to the deeds of donation in Edmund Ernst Stengel : Document book of the Fulda monastery, which have only been handed down as copies . Elwert, Marburg 1913, 1956. (Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse and Waldeck X 1, 1–3) No. 22–27. Their dating is based solely on the indication of the reign of King Pippin in Roman numerals and was questioned by Heinrich Wagner (see literature below), pp. 178–192, with arguments that cannot be dismissed out of hand.
  4. Cf. Wagner (see literature below) pp. 207-226, whose objections to Tangl and Flaskamp are at least so substantial that a decision based solely on their arguments regarding the year of Boniface's death is forbidden and the question remains open consider is.
  5. a b Or perhaps near Dunkirk in what is now French Flanders , as the Dutch archivist Albert Delahaye has claimed. However, this thesis is controversial.
  6. ^ Letter 12, quoted from Lutz v. Padberg, Bonifatius, p. 29 (see literature )
  7. ↑ on this Glatthaar, p. 397/605 (see literature )
  8. ^ Rau, Reinhold (arrangement): Letters of Bonifatius. Willibald's Life of Boniface. Darmstadt 1968, p. 494.
  9. ^ Skeptical, however, Stephan Freund, Bonifatius and the Bavarian dioceses (see literature below).
  10. Article by M. Werner (see literature )
  11. Description by Willibald, in Reinhold Rau (see literature ), p. 511.
  12. G. Becht-Jördens, Murder (see literature )
  13. ^ So L. von Padberg Hans-Walter Stork: The Ragyndrudis Codex (see literature) pp. 15–34, esp. 15 f .; von Padberg, Studies on Boniface Adoration (see literature) pp. 20f .; 24-44. For the criticism of this interpretation, which, in the opinion of Becht-Jördens, misjudges the deliberate use of barbarian topics to defame the Frisians by Willibald, the author of Vita S. Bonifatii I, and for the source criticism cf. G. Becht-Jördens, Heiliger and Buch (see literature) p. 22 f.
  14. Boniface, Letters 111–112.
  15. G. Becht-Jördens, legal status (see literature); ders., Murder (see literature) S, pp. 98-104, pp. 117-121.
  16. G. Becht-Jördens, text, image and architecture (see literature) pp. 90–93 Today the relics are in the Bonifatius crypt of the baroque Fulda Cathedral .
  17. Ragyndrudis Codex in: Image index of art and architecture.
  18. Exact description of the damage (with the exception of the nail marks) in Padberg, Lutz von / Stork, Hans-Walter, Der Ragyndrudis-Codex des hl. Boniface, p. 27 f. (see literature )
  19. The exhibition catalog published by Gregor K. Stasch on the occasion of the anniversary year 2004 (see literature ) mentions on p. 96 “notches on the upper and lower edge” and “damage penetrating the handwriting”.
  20. von Padberg also considers it possible that Bonifatius carried a gospel book with him that was damaged by a sword blow but was lost at an unknown time, but limits his hypothesis himself. Compare v. Padberg, Studien p. 39 ff. (See literature )
  21. Compare v. Padberg, studies p. 21 f. (see literature )
  22. Compare v. Padberg, Studien pp. 25–27 (see literature )
  23. Compare v. Padberg, Studien pp. 28–31 (see literature )
  24. Compare the status of the Codex and the resulting conclusions, which are only briefly reproduced here, v. Padberg, studies p. 35 f (see literature ). To criticize v. Padberg's interpretation cf. G. Becht-Jördens, Heiliger and Buch (see under literature) pp. 15–30. The nailing traces highlighted here escaped the original manuscript by Padberg and Stork during their autopsy and were only discovered and interpreted by Rüdiger Kurth, Nagelung (see literature ).
  25. Müller-Kaspar, Ulrike (ed.), Handbuch des Superstlaubens (Vienna 1996), Volume 2, p. 600 f, keyword "Nagel"
  26. Becht-Jördens; Heiliger und Buch (see literature) p. 18; Aaij, § 7 (see literature ) as well as the reconstruction of the rear cover, shown in v. Padberg / Stork, partial facsimile, p. 115.
  27. ^ Kurth, Rüdiger, The nailing of the Codex Ragyndrudis. New aspects to the death of Boniface. In: Archive for Middle Rhine Church History. Volume 62, 2010, p. 13 f. as well as Becht-Jördens, Heiliger und Buch (see literature ), p. 18, who, without knowing the nailing, interprets the attacks on the cross of the binding cover as a demonstration of the impotence of the alien religious symbol. The realization of the magical meaning of the process shows that the Frisians initially assumed that the Christian symbol might have a supernatural effect and therefore tried to render it harmless through a magical ritual.
  28. Compare v. Padberg, Studien p. 45 ff. (See literature )
  29. Recent research now assumes that no anointing at all took place in 751 following Pippin's elevation to the Frankish king. See: Josef Semmler: Contemporary history and court historiography among the early Carolingians. In: Johannes Laudage (Ed.): Of facts and fictions. Medieval histories and their critical appraisal. Cologne 2003, pp. 135-164.
  30. ^ Pseudo-Boniface, Sermones. In: Migne, Patrologia Latina, Vol. 89, Col. 843-872.
  31. Michael Tangl (Ed.): Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Epistolae selectae. Part 1.; Reinhold Rau (see literature ).
  32. Examples from Matthias Werner (see literature )
  33. Bengt Löfstedt, George J. Gebauer (Ed.): Corpus Christianorum Series Latina (CCSL) 133 (see literature ).
  34. Ed. Ernst Dümmler, in: Monumenta Germanica Historica. Poetae, Vol. 1, pp. 3-15.
  35. Aris, Broszinski: The glosses for the letter of James (see literature) pp. 22-25.
  36. Winfried Dolderer: How Boniface should convert the Germans. In: Calendar sheet (broadcast on DLF ). May 15, 2019, accessed May 15, 2019 .
  37. ^ Georg Kiesel, Bonifatius (Winfried). In: Lexicon of Christian Iconography, Volume 5, Freiburg im Breisgau 1973, Sp. 427–436. In Rudolf Pfleiderer's case, attributes of the saints. an alphabetical reference book for understanding church works of art. Heinrich Kerler, Ulm 1898, attributes cited (also Ecumenical Saint Lexicon, Bonifatius online ). Ax, fox and raven are without evidence and presumably come across as pictorial elements in scenic representations at best.
  38. More details in the article Boniface. In: Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints. (links below).
  39. Tangl (ed.): S. Bonifatii et Lulli epistolae (see works below), ep. 111; ep. 112; Edmund E. Stengel (Hrsg.): Document book of the Fulda monastery. Volume 1, 1. Elwert, Marburg 1956, No. 24 ff.
predecessor Office successor
Gewiliobus Bishop of Mainz