The martyrdom of Saint Boniface, as depicted in a 10th century sacramentary (Göttingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Theol. 231, f. 87r).
Born Winfrid, Boniface was an 8th century Anglo-Saxon missionary whose efforts on the Continent led him to become known as the "Apostle of Germany". In 754, after a lifetime spent preaching the gospel and reforming the church, he and 52 of his followers were murdered by a band of armed pagans. I did make a post about Boniface a while ago, but never really talked about his martyrdom.
He was killed at the age of around 80 while on one of his many missions to Frisia. According to his biographer Willibald (c. 765), Boniface had organised a large confirmation ceremony for a group of newly professed Christians near the town of Dokkum, in the modern-day Netherlands. Yet when the agreed day for the meeting dawned, it was not the converts who showed up at Boniface's camp, but instead a vast mob of heathens seeking loot, armed to the teeth with spears and swords. Realising that something was terribly wrong, a few of the Christians took up arms and eagerly prepared for battle. Boniface, who had been in his tent, then emerged to investigate the commotion, and at once rebuked his followers and forbade them from conflict, saying: "Do not fight them, my children. Lay down your weapons. For by the testimony of scripture we must not give back evil for evil, but good for evil". The aging holy man and all of his companions were thus slaughtered, and according to legend, Boniface used only a book to defend himself (seen here). Having wiped out the Christians, the pagans ransacked the camp in search of treasure, but were dismayed to find nothing but religious manuscripts.
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