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General Audience, 11 March



Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Saint Boniface

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the early Christian writers of East and West, we now turn to Saint Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans. Born in England and baptized with the name Winfrid, he embraced the monastic life and was ordained a priest. Despite his promise as a scholar, he sensed the call to proclaim the Gospel to the pagans of the Continent. After an initial setback, he visited Rome and was charged by Pope Gregory II with the mission to evangelize the Germanic peoples. Taking the name Boniface, he worked tirelessly for the spread of the faith and the promotion of Christian morality, established bishoprics and monasteries throughout northern Europe, and contributed in no small way to the growth of a Christian culture. He crowned his witness to Christ by a martyr’s death, and was buried in the great monastery of Fulda. Saint Boniface continues to inspired us by his example of missionary zeal, his complete fidelity to the word of God and the integrity of the Catholic faith, his strong sense of communion with the Apostolic See, and his efforts to promote the fruitful encounter of Germanic culture with the Roman-Christian heritage.


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I offer a warm welcome to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. I also greet the many student groups present today. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially the visitors from England, Denmark, Vietnam and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!




It was with deep sorrow that I learned of the murders of two young British soldiers and a policeman in Northern Ireland. As I assure the families of the victims and the injured of my spiritual closeness, I condemn in the strongest terms these abominable acts of terrorism which, apart from desecrating human life, seriously endanger the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland and risk destroying the great hopes generated by this process in the region and throughout the world. I ask the Lord that no one will again give in to the horrendous temptation of violence and that all will increase their efforts to continue building – through the patient effort of dialogue – a peaceful, just and reconciled society.

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