Charlemagne’s Coronation

So, when Winfred (Boniface) was born, the Moslems were in North Africa. Sixty years later they were stopped in their tracks by Charles Martel at Tours, just south of Paris. Remember Charles had started to fight to protect Christians in Friesland where Winfred had gone on his first journey. Charles Martel was followed by his two sons, Carloman and Pippin. After a while Carloman resigned as king of his area, giving it to Pippin, and entered a monastery. Pippin was the father of Charlemagne (742-814). The Franks were orthodox Christians. Most of those conquered by the Moslems were Arian Christians. During this time, when Christian kingdoms were under assault from all sides, paganism from the Scandinavian areas spread south into the German areas. So you had areas that had remained orthodox, areas where people blended biblical faith with pagan beliefs, and areas that were completely pagan. “To be quite “frank,” from a human point of view, it is very doubtful that Christianity would have survived in Europe if not for the Carolingian (Frankish) Empire. I believe that it was the hand of God himself who raised up the Franks. We do have the promise of our Lord that then Christian Church will not cease, but will last until the Second Coming”, writes Rev. Dr. John R. Rickert  form Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Newark Delaware.

So this is the political realities that face Winfred after he went back to England.  Dr. Rickert writes, “Boniface had gone on his first missionary journey without being prepared. He would not make that mistake again. In 719 he went to Rome hoping to be officially sent to Friesland to work. He did receive a papal commission, but to work in Germany (this is also when Winfrid became Boniface). In Germany he devoted himself to starting, organizing, and reforming churches and monasteries in Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. Some of these areas had completely reverted to paganism and others had never been converted, while still others had remained in good shape. After becoming an archbishop, Boniface was assigned to the See of Mainz in 743. Thousands came to Christ through his efforts, and thousands more returned to the Christian Faith. Ten years after becoming an archbishop Boniface resigned his position to return to mission work among the Frisians. By this time Radbod had died.”

Serving on the Board of International Missions for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod I can attest to the fact that the missionary endeavor should not be, undertaken lightly of a fly-by-night operation. I joke sometimes that I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking a little old lady is from Minnesota North or North Dakota wandering around the globe with bags full of cash to give to folks in developing countries for mercy work.  It isn’t a joke and it isn’t funny and it does happen and it makes my blood run cold. There is a tremendous amount of work in the recruitment, training, sending, supporting, caring for and protecting and finally, bringing missionaries home. Missionary zeal is one thing, but the support and the staffing needed to make sure the missionary can do the job, is incredibly important. This is the reason that the story of Boniface is so fascinating to me. His missionary zero was one thing, but the training and a lot of experience and the help that he received from people fighting to protect Christians made his work possible and allowed him to be able to accomplish what his fiery personality and personal exuberance set in motion.