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!

Miracles are Normal

This may be a faithless nation, but the most viewed story right now on Reuters UK involves a miracle chair. The chair is in Italy. You probably wouldn’t find a chair like this in Britain – it’s a Matthew 13:58 situation.

The chair in Naples is where women who want to get pregnant sit while they are touched with a reliquary containing a vertebra and a lock of hair from St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus, who died in 1791. It seems to me that the relics are the sacramental contact point rather than the chair. Perhaps St Mary Frances used to sit in it, but the article doesn’t say.

I suppose it doesn’t matter, because either way she intercedes and/or the power of the Holy Spirit residual in her mortal remains energises the woman and babies are conceived. That’s the way miracles work.

I often see belligerence toward the reality of miracles. It’s not just a lack of belief, but antagonism toward any belief in them. They must have some scientifically verifiable explanation or else they have been falsified. Miracles really upset the applecart of the secularist. They claim God can’t exist because He doesn’t show Himself, then when He does, they don’t know what to do.

For a believer, miracles are normative. Every Divine Liturgy or Mass is centred around the miracle of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In them we participate in the moment that Jesus gave Himself up for the life of the world. That’s really another miracle. This month we look forward to the Nativity, the fruition of the miracle of the Incarnation. Once you believe that God became Man, took away the sin of the world, and shares Himself with the faithful, the success of one saint’s intercession for a couple to conceive a child is small potatoes. Really nice small potatoes, especially if you are the couple.