4 - 6 minutes readMay 14 – St Boniface, Martyr ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

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May 14 – St Boniface, Martyr

The Apostle of the Gentiles, explaining the mystery of the Pasch, tell us that Baptism is the sepulcher of our sins, and that we rise from it together with our Redeemer, having our souls radiant with the life of grace. Our holy Faith teaches us that he who gives his life for Christ or his Church, washes away, in his own blood, every stain from his soul, and rises to life everlasting: it is as though he received a second Baptism, which reproduces all the effects belonging to the great Sacrament of Regeneration. We have today a sinner, who being purified by Martyrdom and rebaptized in his own blood, is numbered among the privileged ones who share in the glory of our Risen Jesus. Boniface, by his immoralities, had scandalized the city where he lived; but his repentance was most complete. He longed to suffer the cruelest tortures for the love of the God he had offended, and thus make atonement for the sinful pleasures in which he had indulged. His wish was granted; suffering transformed him into the Saint whose Feast is kept on this day, and whose virtues are an homage to the Divine Conqueror of sin and death.

Holy Church thus commemorates, in her Office, the bravery of this generous-hearted Martyr.

Bonifacius, civis romanus, quod cum Aglae nobili matrona impudice versatus esset, tanto illius intemperantiæ dolore captus est, ut pœnitentiæ causa se ad conquirenda et sepelienda martyrum corpora contulerit. Itaque relictis peregrinationis sociis, quum Tarsi multos propter Christianæ fidei professionem variis tormentis cruciatos vidisset, illorum vincula osculatus, eos vehementer hortabatur, ut constanter supplicia perferrent, quod brevem laborem sempiterna requies consecutura sit. Comprehensus igitur, ferreis ungulis excarnificatus est: cui etiam inter manuum ungues et carnem acuti calami sunt infixi, plumbumque liquefactum in os ejus infusum. Quibus in cruciatibus ea vox tantum Bonifacii audiebatur: Gratias tibi ago, Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei. Boniface was a citizen of Rome, and had held criminal intercourse with a rich lady, by name Aglaë. He afterwards was so grieved for this immoral conduct that, by way of penance, he devoted himself to the looking for and burying the bodies of Martyrs. In one of his travels, he left his companions; and finding, on arriving at Tarsus, that many were being put to divers tortures for the Christian Faith, he approached them, kissed their chains, and did all in his power to urge them to bear patiently the short labor of sufferings which were to be followed by eternal rest. For this he was seized, and his flesh was torn by iron hooks. Sharp reeds were also thrust up his fingernails, and melted lead was poured into his mouth. His only exclamation, in the midst of these tortures, was: “I give thee thanks, Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”
Mox in ollam ferventis picis demisso capite conjectus est: unde quum inviolatus exisset, ira incensus judex eum securi percuti jubet. Quo tempore magnus terræ motus factus est, ita ut multi infideles ad Christi Domini fidem converterentur. Eum sequenti die quærentes socii, quum martyrio affectum cognovissent, quingentis solidis ejus corpus redemerunt, et conditum unguentis, linteisque involutum, Romam portandum curarunt. Quod factum quum ab Angelo Aglae matrona, quæ et ipsa pœnitens se piis operibus addixerat, cognovisset; prodiens obviam sancto corpori, Ecclesiam ejus nomine ædificavit, in qua corpus sepultum est nonis Junii, quum ejus anima pridie Idus Maii apud Tarsum Ciliciæ urbem migrasset in cœlum, Diocletiano et Maximiano Imperatoribus. He was then put, head foremost, into a cauldrom of boiling pitch; and when he was taken out, and found to be unurt, the judge, in a fit of anger, ordered him to be beheaded. During his execution, a great earthquake was felt; whereupon, many of the pagans were converted to the Faith of Christ our Lord. On the day following, his companions, who were in search of him, were told that he had suffered martyrdom. They bought his body for five hundred pieces of silver; and having embalmed and shrouded it, they had it taken to Rome. All this was made known, by an Angel, to Aglaë, who had also devoted herself to penance and good works. She, therefore, went to meet the Martyr’s relics. She built a Church, which was named after the Saint, and in which he was buried on the Nones of June (June 5th). The Martyr’s soul passed into heaven on the day before the Ides of May (May 14th), at Tarsus, a city of cilicia, under the Emperors Dioclesian and Maximian.


The Angels rejoiced more at thy conversion, O Boniface, than at the fidelity of the ninety-nine just; but their joy was redoubled when they found that heaven gained, in thee, not only a Penitent, but a Martyr too. Receive, also, the congratulations of holy Church, which celebrates the memory of thy victory. Rome is still in possession of thy holy Relics, which repose in the Church on Mount Aventine, where once stood the house of her that imitated thy repentance. In both her and thee, we have a proof of the infinite mercy of our Risen Jesus, who called the two sinners from spiritual death to the life of grace. Have compassion, O holy Martyr, on those poor sinners, whom this Easter has not yet brought back to their Redeemer. The Alleluia has resounded through the whole universe, and yet it has failed to rouse them from their sleep of sin. Pray for their resurrection. Their days are numbered; and perhaps they are not to see another Easter. Yet do we hope in the divine Mercy, which has shown us its power by making thee and Aglaë to be vessels of election. We, therefore, unite our prayers with thine, O Boniface, that our Lord may grant a resurrection to our Brethren. Hope is our armor in this peaceful contest with Divine Justice, which delights in being vanquished by prayer. Present our prayer before the Throne of God; and many of those that are now spiritually dead will come to life again, and their conversion will cause joy to the Angels, as thine did.


This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)