Boniface and the Donar Oak

In 723, the Anglo-Saxon missionary Saint Boniface, Apostle of the Germans, arrived in the area in his quest to convert the northern Germanic tribes to Christianity, using as his base the Frankish fortified settlement of Büraburg on the opposite side of the Eder river. He had just been in contact with Charles Martel, who had confirmed Frankish commitment to the mission in Thuringia and Hesse. With the military support of the Frankish empire (there was a base in Büraburg-Fritzlar), Boniface, in what was probably a well-planned and advertised action, had the oak felled to convey the superiority of the Christian God over Donar and the native Germanic religion.[3] The account in the first hagiography of Boniface, by Willibald, relates that the huge oak was felled by a great gust of wind, "as if by miracle" with Boniface only making one swing of the axe. When Donar did not respond by hurling a lightning bolt at him, the assembled local people agreed to be baptized.[4]

In Bonifacian iconography, the act is one of the most important symbols for the saint, and many prayer cards illustrate him with an axe, sometimes with his foot on the tree stump;[5] the scene as it was depicted, in all its pathos, by Willibald was a great example for historical paintings of the nineteenth century.[3]

Boniface used the wood of the oak to build a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter in Fritzlar. From this chapel originated a Benedictine monastery.[3][6]


See also


External links:



Website of Fulda Bishopric for the Year of Boniface 2004





REWARDS Delivered at the Fall of Babylon (AD70 Jerusalem)