St. Boniface vs Thor
Near the present-day town of Fritzlar in northern Hesse (west-central Germany), St.Boniface had been ministering to the pagans with little success. Being a stronghold in the worship of the Norse god Thor (known among the West Germanic tribes as Donar), Boniface was convinced that reaching this area with the gospel would pave the way for the entire region to follow. St. Boniface let it bze known among the tribes that when the next sacrifice was planned, he would personally prevent it. He gathered a group of his monks at an ancient oak tree considered sacred in Norse mythology. This was the place of blood-letting, where the Germans would perform their human sacrifices. The sacrificial victim, a young girl, was bound to the oak tree in preparation, but before the fatal blow could be struck, Boniface grabbed the axe out of the executioner’s hands. The Benedictine monk swung at the girl’s chains, whose links broke under the blow of the sharp blade. Boniface released the girl, and then turned his axe on the sacred oak tree. “As Boniface drove a huge gash into the trunk, the onlookers stood speechless, too stunned to move whilst the Benedictine continued to hack away.” As Boniface drove a huge gash into the trunk, the onlookers stood speechless, too stunned to move whilst the Benedictine continued to hack away. The oak crashed harmlessly to the ground, amidst a foreboding silence. However, to the unarmed monks’ utter astonishment, the fierce Germans fell to their knees in terror. Anticipating the wrath of their gods for this sacrilege, the tribesmen were certain that Boniface would be struck down by a lightning bolt from Thor’s hammer, called ‘Mjolnir. But the fierce red-haired god, known for riding through the sky with a gigantic hammer, did not arrive. At the end of the evening, Boniface was still standing, but the tree had been toppled. Realizing that their gods were powerless to protect their own sacred places, the crowd was now ready to listen to Boniface’s message. In the days that followed, the entire village was baptized and helped Boniface to build a chapel from the wood of toppled tree.