Saint of the Day – 14 July – Blessed Boniface of Canterbury O.Cart. (c 1207-1270) Carthusian Monk and Prior, the forty sixth Archbishop of Canterbury. Reformer, Mediator. Born in c 1207 near Sainte-Hélòne-du-Luc in the Savoy region of modern France and died on 18 July 1270 at the Sainte-Hélòne des Milliere Castle in Hautecombe, Savoy, France of natural causes. Also known as – Boniface of Savoy. Beatified on 7 September 1838 by Pope Gregory XVI. His body is incorrupt.
Born to the nobility as a member of the Ducal House of Savoy. Boniface was the eleventh child of Count Thomas of Savoy and the brother of Queen Beatrix of Savoy, as well as the Uncle of Queen Eleanor of England.
Boniface became a Carthusian Monk at the Grande Chartreuse at a very young age. As a young man he was appointed as the Prior of the Carthusian Monastery in Natua, France.
In 1233, as a Sub-Deacon, he was elected Bishop of Belley in Burgundy and, in 1241, Boniface administered the Diocese of Valence, as well. In 1245, Boniface was chosen as the forty sixth Archbishop of Canterbury, England by Pope Innocent IV. In the same year, he attended the Council of Lyon.
As the Archbishop, Boniface revised the Court, eliminated unnecessary offices in the Archdiocese and worked to solve the fiscal problems of the nearly bankrupt Diocese. Boniface exerted diplomacy and mediation in order to reduce the Royal interference in the Church’s internal affairs and the control of Eccleasiastical appointments.
Boniface proceeded to implement reforms in a number of the Monasteries in his Diocese but many refused to recognise him or permit his visits. Some of the disputes actually led to violence and he was forced to excommunicate some Clerics in order to implement compliance. Others, however, welcomed his reform efforts, and were impressed with his personal piety, his charity, and his simple lifestyle.
In 1258 he was chosen the leader of a group of the King‘s Counsellors who represented the interests of the English Barons against the King. In May 1261 he called a Council at Lambeth Castle which led to declarations explaining that the Church had the right to oppose worldly forces and interventions. However, Pope Urban IV needed the support of King Henry and refused to ratify these Decrees.
Boniface went into voluntary exile in France from 1262 to 1266, administering his Archdiocese as best he could, from across the Channel and continued to oppose Henry’s unilateral appointments to Ecclesiastical offices and his taxation of Church property. But he sided with the King on other matters, especially when the Barons resorted to civil war. On the triumph of the King’s party in 1265, he returned to England, arriving there in May 1266.
Boniface even briefly served as Regent of England and accompanied the King on diplomatic expediations to France.
Boniface died while trying to settle family business and end feuds between family factions. Later English historians complained of his excessive involvement in worldly politics and his family affairs but. in France, he was far more appreciated by those who knew his true holiness and zeal for the Church of Christ.
Boniface was buried with his family in the Cistercian Abbey of Hautecombe in Savoy. In his will, he left legacies to all the houses of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the Diocese of Canterbury. His will had differing provisions for his burial depending on whether he died in England, France, or near the Alps.
After his death, Boniface’s tomb was the center of a cult, and when the tomb was opened in 1580, his body was found to be perfectly preserved