After the Synod of Whitby, in which it was decided that the Celtic Church had erred on the date of Easter and the correct style of tonsure, papal envoys were sent to England to correct these evils and remind the British of the dangers of free will and the sordid embraces of women. Stone cups that flowed wine and fish with teeter of gold gave way to strategic planning and office memos.
Young Winfrith was well suited for this life and after
receiving Holy Orders in 690 he determined to undertake missionary work
among the heathens of the continent.
Against his father's wishes the young man decided on the
religious life. At school he studied the Latin (but not Greek) classics,
and the church fathers, among them Ambrosia(?) who wrote of the many levels
of interpretation of the Great Flood.
Who were the Friesians? Simple, boggish folk who lived
in the coastal Netherlands, they had been the laughing stock of the ancient
world since Pliny the Elder visited them in the year 47 and reported that
they, like the Irish, were not worth conquering. They loved their oak trees
and were given to holding religious services beneath them followed by drinking
parties in which they consumed what Mediterranean sophisticates called
By far the most successful missionaries in Frisland had
been the Irish who quickly went native, talked with angels, and regaled
the Frisfolk with tall tales of miracles and oak tree prophecies.
One of them, a certain Aldebert, especially detested by
Boniface, was wildly popular among them. Aldebert explained that he had
been born following an annunciation by a calf, from his mother's side like
the Virgin and he showed them the letter that Jesus Christ had written
to him. He gave them instructions in ancient Celtic practices such as fighting
the waves of the invading sea. His ancestors had lived and worshipped in
the bogs and woods, he said, and they understood when natural forces must
be bravely resisted and when destiny required submissions to the natural
Aldebert shows a heathen the story of St. Brendan. These
Irishmen degraded their Christian profession by participation in the
idolatrous rites of Thor and Woden. He made little headway on restoring
the purity of doctrine to men of this character in the dense,
primeval forests where Woden, Thor, and the other deities of the Teutonic
pantheon might well seem alive and all-powerful to the tribal warrior who
Serious missionaries like Boniface were eager to tell
The Holy Father about the evil doings of their successful Irish competitors.
In the year 752 Boniface received permission from Pope Gregory to excommunicate
the Irish and return to Germany to save the Friesians from their pagan
His Holiness granted Boniface a letter to the Frankish
king Charles Martel. No one knew whether the Saint would ever be seen again.
Boniface returned to Germany. By day the Frisians prayed
to the new Christian God.
Nighttime was a different story altogether. Boniface
suffered greatly thinking about their pleasurable orgies beneath the oak
trees. He could not bear the thought of the pains of hell that these simple
folk would suffer in consequence of the fun they were enjoying.
For miles around the Frisians gathered to witness the
Christian hack away at their pagan god, for Boniface had taken the bold
step of deciding to chop down their God, Thor, embodied in a great oak
Oak trees fell into the bogs and creeks and rivers and
some of them washed down into the Rhine where they can still be found today,
buried in the gravel.
It had long been so; for fourteen thousand years oak stumps
and trees had fallen into the Rhine and been entombed in gravels, sands,
and silts that have accumulated in accordance with the laws of fluvial
geomorphology, chief among which is that the rivers are rushing, gravelly,
braided flow pattern through most geological time.
The miraculous spring 874. According to Willibald not long after the saints martyrdom it was decided to erect or church at the spot, on the Boone River, which required that the site be protected from the vast eruptions of the heap and spring tides by building of an earthen mound, in other words a dike or levee. A certain Abba, supervisor of the works, was inspecting it on horseback when suddenly and unexpectedly the steed of the attendant, while merely stamping on the ground, felt it sinking and giving way altogether, and wallowed. Then at once a miracle stupendous and worthy to behold was made manifest.a fountain, exceeding clear beyond the manner of that country.came bursting out, and, penetrating through unknown channels, flowed forth, so that it seemed already a very large brook.