Commemoration of S. Boniface, Martyr - From the Divine Office at Lauds
Ant: Come forth, daughters of Jerusalem, and behold the Martyrs and the crown with which the Lord crowned them, on this solemn, joyous day, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Precious in the sight of the Lord, alleluia. R. Is the death of His Saints, alleluia.
Collect: We celebrate each year the memory of Your holy Martyr Boniface. May we be helped, O God all-powerful, by his intercession. This we ask of You through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever. Amen.
From the Roman Martyrology: At Tarsus (a historic city in south-central Turkey) located in Cilicia (on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey), the birthday (death) of S. Boniface, Martyr, who suffered under the Emperor Diocletian and Maximian, and was afterwards translated (his remains were moved) to Rome and buried on the Via Latina.
From the 1962 Roman Missal:
Arrested at Tarsus, Boniface "bore himself with much fortitude in the presence of his tortures" (Epistle). They tore his body with iron hooks, they thrust pointed reeds under his nails, and poured molten lead into his mouth. He was beheaded at Tarsus on May 14th, towards the year 275 AD, under the reign of the Emperor Galerius. His remains were brought to Rome and deposited on Mount Avertine, in the church which took first his name, and later on that of Saint Alexius.
The Holy Martyr Boniface was the slave of a rich young Roman woman named Aglaida and he dwelt with her in an iniquitous cohabitation. But they both felt the sting of conscience and they wanted somehow to be cleansed of their sin. And the Lord granted them the possibility to wash away their sin with their blood and to finish their life in repentance.
Aglaida learned that whoever keeps relics of the holy martyrs in the home and venerates them receives great help in gaining salvation. Under their influence, sin is diminished and virtue prevails. She arranged for Boniface to go to the East, where there was a fierce persecution against Christians, and she asked him to bring back the relics of some martyr, who would become a guide and protector for them.
As he was leaving, Boniface laughed and asked, “My lady, if I do not find any relics, and if I myself suffer for Christ, will you accept my body with reverence?” Aglaida scolded him, saying that he was setting off on a sacred mission, but he was not taking it seriously. Boniface pondered her words, and during the whole journey he thought that he was unworthy of touching the bodies of the martyrs.
Arriving at Tarsus in Cilicia, Boniface left his companions at the inn and proceeded to the city square, where they were torturing Christians. Struck by the beastly horrible torments, and seeing the faces of the holy martyrs radiant with the grace of the Lord, Boniface marveled at their courage. He embraced them and kissed their feet, asking them to pray that he might be found worthy to suffer with them.
The judge asked Boniface who he was. He replied, “I am a Christian,” and then refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They stripped him and hung him upside down, beating him so hard that the flesh fell from his body, exposing the bone. They stuck needles under his nails, and finally they poured molten tin down his throat, but by the power of the Lord he remained unharmed. The people who witnessed this miracle shouted, “Great is the God of the Christians!” Then they began to throw stones at the judge, and then they headed for the pagan temple, in order to cast down the idols.
On the following morning, when things had quieted down somewhat, the judge directed that the holy martyr be thrown into a cauldron of boiling tar, but this also caused the sufferer no harm. An angel come down from Heaven and bedewed him as he stepped into the cauldron. The tar overflowed the cauldron, splattering and burning the torturers themselves. Saint Boniface was then sentenced to beheading by the sword. Blood and a milky fluid flowed from his wounds. Beholding such a miracle, about 550 men believed in Christ.
Saint Boniface’s companions, waiting for two days at the inn for him in vain, began searching for him, thinking that he had gotten drunk somewhere. At first their search was without success, but finally they came across a man who had been an eyewitness to the martyr’s death. The man also led them to the place where the decapitated body lay. Saint Boniface’s companions tearfully begged his forgiveness for their unseemly thoughts about him. After they ransomed the martyr’s remains, they brought them back to Rome.
On the eve of their arrival an angel appeared to Aglaida in her sleep and told her to prepare herself to receive her former slave, now the brother and fellow-servant of the angels. Aglaida summoned the clergy, and she received the holy relics with great reverence. Then she built a church on the site of his grave and dedicated it to the holy martyr. There she enshrined his relics, glorified by numerous miracles. After distributing all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew to a monastery, where she spent fifteen years in repentance, then fell asleep in the Lord. She was buried beside Saint Boniface. The sins of the one were washed away by his blood, the other was purified by her tears and asceticism. Both were found worthy to appear unsullied before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).
We pray to Saint Boniface for deliverance from drunkenness.
According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about 120 of Jesus’ followers). Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation that another should take his office. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).
They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven.
Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.
What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.
Jesus speaks of the apostles’ function of being judges, that is, rulers. He said, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
Out of the Shadows:
Oh God, heal the darkness of my mind and bring all my thoughts to light. Let me grow to full maturity and flourish in your sight. Amen.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Cast aside worries, dismiss sinister judgments. God is in you and with you. What then do you fear?