Saint Boniface, Martyr.
About the Year 307.
THERE lived at Rome, about the beginning of the fourth century, a certain lady called Aglaë, young, beautiful, and well born, and so rich and fond of making a figure in the world, that she had entertained the city three several times with public shows at her own charge. Her chief steward was one Boniface, with whom she entertained a criminal commerce. This man, though addicted to wine and all kinds of debauchery, was however remarkable for three good qualities, hospitality, liberality, and compassion. Whensoever he saw a stranger or traveller, he would assist him very cordially; and he used to go about the streets and into the public places, in the night time, and relieved the poor according to their necessities.—After several years’ commerce in the vicious way already mentioned, Aglaë, touched with a motion of divine grace, and feeling some compunction within herself, called Boniface to her, and thus opened her mind to him: “You are sensible how deep we are plunged in vice, without reflecting that we must appear before God to give an account of all our actions. I have heard some say, that they who honour those who suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ, shall have a share in their glory. In the East the servants of Jesus Christ every day suffer torments, and lay down their lives for his sake. Go thither then, and bring me the relics of some of those conquerors, that we may honour their memories, and be saved by their assistance.” Boniface came into the proposal; and having raised a considerable sum of money to purchase the bodies of the martyrs from their executioners, and to distribute among the poor, said to Aglaë on his departure, “I will not fail to bring back with me the relics of martyrs, if I find any; but what if my own body should be brought to you for that of a martyr?” She reproved him for jesting in a matter so serious. The steward set out, but was now entirely a new man. Penetrated with sentiments of compunction, in all that long journey from Rome into the East, he neither ate meat nor drank wine; and his fasts he accompanied with prayers, tears and penitential works. Continue reading