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St Boniface

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Although Exeter has its own Saint in the personage of St Sidwell, the Crediton born St Boniface can owe his early education to the city. Born around about 672/5, the young Winfrid was from a noble family in Kirton (Crediton). His father wanted him to pursue a more secular pursuit, but Winfrid felt drawn to the life of a missionary monk who had visited his home. He gained his father's permission to go to the abbey in the centre of Adescancastre or Exeter, for an education. Thus in 680, Winfrid arrived for what would be seven years of piety and learning under Abbot Wolfhard.

At about the age of sixteen, he left for the Abbey of Nutshalling near Winchester to continue his studies and at the age of thirty he was ordained. He soon gained a reputation as a preacher. In 716 he journeyed to Friesland to spread the gospel. Two years later he found his way to Rome and in May 719, the Pope gave him permission to preach the Gospel to the heathens in Germany, in all the land to the right of the Rhine. Success in his mission led in 722, to the Pope consecrating him a bishop, named Boniface. The new bishop returned to Germany and felled the sacred oak of the heathen thunder-god Thor, to prove to the people that their gods were powerless. The felling of the tree spelt the end of heathenism in Germany.

In the year 755 he attended a confirmation at Dorkum - the local heathens attended, turned on him and murdered Boniface and 52 companions. It was in England that his day of martyrdom was first celebrated and he has become the patron saint of brewers, tailors, and file-cutters. Quite a lot for a young lad from Crediton who went to school in Exeter.

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