May 14, 2019: ST. BONIFACE OF TARSUS
May 14, 2019: COMMEMORATION OF ST. BONIFACE (OF TARSUS), MARTYR
The Angels rejoiced more at thy conversion, Boniface, than at the fidelity of the ninety-nine just; but their joy was redoubled, when they found that heaven gained, in thee, not only a Penitent, but a Martyr too. Receive, also, the congratulations of holy Church, which celebrates the memory of thy victory.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who celebrate the festival of blessed Boniface, thy Martyr, may by his prayers, find the effects of thy divine assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in unity of the Holy Ghost, God, World without end. Amen.
The Apostle of the Gentiles, explaining the mystery of the Pasch, tells us, that Baptism is the sepulchre of our sins, and that we rise from it together with our Redeemer, having our souls radiant with the life of grace (Rom, vi.). Our holy Faith teaches us, that he who gives his life for Christ or his Church, washes away, in his own blood, every stain from his soul, and rises to life everlasting: it is as though he received a second Baptism, which reproduces all the effects belonging to the great Sacrament of Regeneration. We have, to-day, a sinner, who being purified by Martyrdom and rebaptised in his own blood, is numbered among the privileged ones who share in the glory of our Risen Jesus. Boniface, by his immoralities, had scandalised the city where he lived; but his repentance was most complete. He longed to suffer the crudest tortures for the love of the God he had offended, and thus make atonement for the sinful pleasures in which he had indulged. His wish was granted; suffering transformed him into the Saint, whose Feast is kept on this day, and whose virtues are a homage to the Divine Conqueror of sin and death.
Holy Church thus commemorates, in her Office, the bravery of this generous-hearted Martyr.
Boniface was a citizen of Rome, and had held criminal intercourse with a rich lady, by name Aglaë. He afterwards was so grieved for this immoral conduct, that, by way of penance, he devoted himself to the looking for and burying the bodies of Martyrs. In one of his travels, he left his companions; and finding, on arriving at Tarsus, that many were being put to divers tortures for the Christian Faith, he approached them, kissed their chains, and did all in his power to urge them to bear patiently the short labour of sufferings which were to be followed by eternal rest. For this he was seized, and his flesh was torn by iron hooks. Sharp reeds were also thrust up his finger-nails, and melted lead was poured into his mouth. His only exclamation, in the midst of these tortures, was: “I give thee thanks, Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God!”
He was then put, head foremost, into a cauldron of boiling pitch; and when he was taken out, and found to be unhurt, the judge, in a fit of anger, ordered him to be beheaded. During his execution, a great earthquake was felt; whereupon, many of the pagans were converted to the Faith of Christ our Lord. On the day following, his companions, who were in search of him, were told that he had suffered martyrdom. They bought his body for five hundred pieces of silver; and having embalmed and shrouded it, they had it taken to Rome. All this was made known, by an Angel, to Aglaë, who had also devoted herself to penance and good works. She, therefore, went to meet the Martyr's relics. She built a Church, which was named after the Saint, and in which he was buried on the Nones of June (June 5th). The Martyr's soul passed into heaven on the day before the Ides of May (May 14th), at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, under the Emperors Dioclesian and Maximian.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Boniface of Tarsus, pray for us.