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Campaign to make St. Boniface the Patron Saint of Devon

It could lead to a Devon Day on June 5th

Boniface left his monastery to take the Gospel to northern Europe, and was martyred there in 754.   He is rightly acclaimed, ‘Apostle to the Germans’.

Cllr Nick Way had put forward a motion that Devon County Council should supports the initiative to adopt St Boniface as Patron Saint of Devon.

The cabinet on Wednesday morning backed supporting the work of the Boniface Link Association towards adopting St Boniface as Patron Saint of Devon.

Cllr Way said: “Devon’s only native-born saint, Boniface, has been described by eminent  historians as ‘The greatest Englishman of all times’ and is often referred to as the First European because of his important missionary work across a large part of the continent.

“He is a significant historic figure.  Cornwall has St Piran and Dorset has St Wite as their patron saints.

“Devon should have its own patron saint, it is important for the county’s identity and tourism and people should be able to celebrate St Boniface day each year on June 5.

“I want to thank the cabinet for supporting the motion. It is very important that the church are supporting this, but it is very important from the secular point of view to bring to this to the council, as there are cultural and tourist implications of it. It would be a very good thing for Devon if we can hammer home ‘Devon Day’ and I look forward to having a Cream Tea, the right way around, on June 5.”

Cllr Carol Whitton added: “I would be even more delighted if we could find a link between St Boniface and cream teas. The more I read about Boniface, the more he ticks all the boxes that we hope for and I would be delighted to have a Patron Saint of rival the attitude of the Cornish of their patron saint.”

The cabinet heard that both the Bishop of Exeter and the Bishop of Plymouth were supporting the motion.

In a joint statement, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, and Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth, said: “We are delighted to champion the groundswell of support to acclaim St Boniface as patron saint of Devon.

“At a time when our links with Europe are under scrutiny, it is good to honour our historic, spiritual links and to celebrate the faith and courage of this extraordinary man of whom Devon can rightly be proud.”

Devon County Council’s full council, when they meet on May 23, will be recommended to work the work of the Boniface Link Association and the mechanism by which Boniface is honoured in the church calendar on June 5 and to support the work of the association in working towards the adoption of Saint Boniface as Patron Saint of Devon.

St. Boniface (680–754), known in Church history as the Apostle to the Germans, is regarded as “probably the greatest missionary since St. Paul” for his extensive travels and successful evangelization efforts in modern-day Germany.

Born in Crediton area around 680, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints says that he had a deeper influence on the history of Europe than any other Englishman, as well as being known as a great bishop and evangelizer, Catholic legend, based on actual historical events, also holds that he is the founder of the use of a Christmas tree to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.

His Anglo Saxon name was Wynfrith (from the Saxon words for friend and peace.) He changed it to the Latin name Boniface (meaning good fate) when he entered the monastery in Exeter.

He later became a missionary in northern Europe and is credited with bringing Christianity to Germany.

St Boniface was killed by a mob in what is now Holland on Pentecost Sunday in 754AD.

He is buried at Fulda, the abbey he founded in northern Germany. It is now a place of pilgrimage for Christians.

St Boniface Roman Catholic Church has the national shrine to the saint, whilst historic Crediton Parish Church has an aisle and a number of artefacts dedicated to St Boniface. Both are popular destinations for people from across the world interested in St Boniface.

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