The Other Saint Boniface

When most people think of St Boniface, they think of the Apostle to the Germans – the patron saint of Germany and the Netherlands who died in 754. Today, however, is the commemoration of another Boniface who was martyred in about 290 in St Paul’s hometown of Tarsus.

He was from Rome. After he and his rich lover (some say he was he was also her slave) repented of fornication, he went East where there was great persecution going on, to gather relics of martyrs to make sure they were cared for properly. When he got to Tarsus, he found Christians being martyred in the city centre. He rushed to them to ask for their prayers and declared to the authorities that he was a Christian.

They beat him and tortured him by methods that vary somewhat in the relating of the story, but all include that his tormenters poured molten tin or lead down his throat. He was unharmed by this, as well as by being thrown in boiling tar. They finally got him with sword parting his head from his shoulders.

St Boniface is a clear testimony to the adage that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. The miracles surrounding his death caused several hundred people to embrace Christ. His own relics were returned to Rome where his erstwhile lover built a church over his grave. As is the custom with martyrs, the miracles just kept happening.

So when you think you are being treated a bit badly by those around you, especially if it for your faith, remember Holy Boniface and you probably don’t have it so bad.

St Boniface of Rome, pray to God for us!

Godless Politics

Tony Blair once opined that if a British politician talks about God, “people think you’re a nutter”. Nick Clegg doesn’t plan on being thought a nutter. The new leader of the Liberal Democrat Party told an interviewer on Radio 5 Live that he doesn’t believe in God.

Most polticians don’t step over this line either. They usually just say that faith is a private matter, while hinting that they may attend religious services on rare occasions.

This is such a contrast to American politics, where no one who run for office national office without making some sort of strong (even if imaginary) connection to religion. Outside of spiritually icy Blue States, candidates for lesser offices will make even more of their faith.

Nick must be hoping to pick up the youth vote. Surely if he advertises his atheism, he will appeal to the increasing Christianophobia leaving schools and entering the adult world with each yearly cohort. This may finally sever the last remnants of the traditional connection between the Liberals and the chapel (non-Anglican Protestant churches) – just as the Church of England was once called the Tory Party at prayer.