St Boniface

Why I’m not supporting the idea of making St Boniface the Patron Saint of Devon

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The Boniface Link Association are asking County Councillors to back this proposal. I’ve explained my position in this letter to them:

Thank you for writing to me about your proposal that St Boniface should be made the Patron Saint of Devon and his day be made Devonshire Day. I found your letter and the leaflet most interesting, and as a staunch European I was attracted to the story of Boniface’s European connections. I certainly appreciate the role which Christianity has played in the creation of modern Devon, England and Europe.

However I am afraid that I cannot support your proposal. This is because we no longer have a primarily Christian society, with many belonging to other faiths such as Judaism and Islam, and half the population no longer identifying with religion at all. In this situation, I don’t believe it is appropriate to further entrench Christianity in the symbols of our local institutions.

I particularly think that St Boniface is the wrong figurehead for our County since his story is so much about missionary activity to convert the ‘heathens’. In this light, many of us today would be regarded as heathen, and I think it sends out the wrong message – especially to children of other faiths and none – to adopt as our patron someone who is identified with this particular aspect of our history. I hope you will understand why I will be opposing this proposal when Nick Way brings it forward.