Our Glorious Popes

Chapter IV

Pope Saint Zachary, who ruled Christendom from “the throne of the Fisherman” for ten years and three months, was of Greek parentage, although his family had settled in Calabria, in southern Italy, and lived there for some time. He was raised to the rank of cardinal-priest by Pope Gregory III, who preceded him.

Spoken of as strong and forceful in doctrinal matters, and gentle and conciliatory in the everyday affairs of men, Saint Zachary was immediately and unanimously elected on the thirtieth of November, 741, to succeed Pope Gregory III. He did not await the confirmation of the Emperor, either from Constantinople or through his exarch at Ravenna, and his consecration took place without that formality, which from that time on was dispensed with forever.

Although he did not ask the Eastern Roman Emperor to confirm his election, Pope Zachary did, shortly after his elevation, notify Constantinople. However, he addressed his letter, not to the Iconoclast Emperor, Constantine V, Copronymus so-called, nor to the Iconoclast Patriarch, Anastasius, but to the Church of Constantinople. For the East was once again in the throes of heresy!

Once more, the temporalty had presumed to take over the direction of the spiritualty. Once more, an Emperor would claim the right to make laws for the Church. Once more, Caesar would pronounce on matters of doctrine. And once more, because of this unwarranted seizure of the authority which is Peter’s alone, Christendom would be bathed in the blood of martyrs.

The Iconoclast heresy – one of the meanest of all the heresies in that it sought to deprive the millions of the faithful of the stimulus, the intimacy, the warmth, the fervor which the veneration of sacred images stirred in hearts used to loving only what can be seen and heard and touched – was launched on the world, this time not by a patriarch or an abbot, a bishop or a priest, but by a layman. Iconoclasm, or image breaking, as it concerned Catholics, was born in the mind of a rude and unlettered soldier, Leo the Isaurian, who, by the sheer force of an amazing gift for leadership and organization, coupled with an overpowering belief in his own powers, rose to the command of the armies of the East.

When, in 717, Constantinople was in imminent danger of falling to the Saracens, Leo, with the perfect support of his army, held the Mohammedans at bay while he forced the abdication of the weak Theodosius III and seized the imperial throne for himself, assuming the title of Leo III, Eastern Roman Emperor. He then, in a series of brilliant land and sea battles, defeated the Saracens so decisively that he rid the Eastern Empire for centuries to come of the Mohammedan menace and blocked the Saracen entrance into Europe through Asia Minor. Religious history knows Leo as Leo the Iconoclast; secular history as Leo the Isaurian, founder of the Isaurian dynasty. (Isauria was an ancient country in Asia Minor.)

After ten years of complete domination of the Eastern Empire – and, it must be admitted, ten years of ably instituting needed reforms in the various branches of the government – Leo turned his mind to the Church, as to another world to conquer and reform. He felt himself qualified, this soldier and political administrator, to pronounce on sacred dogma; indeed he did not hesitate finally to promulgate dogma. The practice which attracted his attention was the time honored veneration of sacred images, favored and blessed by the Church from its earliest days. Now, of the two infidel peoples living side by side with Leo, and whose influence upon him was well known, the Jews had for long detested statues and images of every kind, and the Mohammedans, early in the century, had outlawed the use of holy pictures, statues and images, not by Mohammedans – for Mohammed from the first had entertained a fierce hatred of images – but by Christians living in Mohammedan lands and under Mohammedan rule.

And so, Leo, flushed with his secular triumphs and a thirst for power over the yet unexplored world of the spirit, professed to see in the Catholic veneration of images a social and spiritual evil of tremendous proportions, which he as Emperor was in duty bound to wipe out. By way of initiating his campaign, he ordered Pope Gregory II to decree that the images and paintings on the walls of all churches should be raised so high as to be beyond the reach of the embraces and kisses of the fervent faithful, thus preventing what he called profanation and occasions of sin (of idolatry). When his order met with no response, he published, in 727, an edict forbidding as idolatrous the veneration of all statues, images and mosaics. He commanded, in the manner of the English Puritans eight hundred years later, that sacred statues and pictures be “painted out.” The cross he retained as a symbol, but the crucifix he prohibited, very much as the Protestants do today, because on it was imposed an image, albeit the image of the suffering Savior of mankind.

Emperor Leo III sent a copy of his edict to Pope Saint Gregory II, ordering him to enforce it under penalty of forfeiting his title of Bishop of Rome! The Pope’s reply was immediate and doctrinal. He denounced Leo and defended the practice of the veneration of sacred images. The Italian people rose in rebellious wrath against the Eastern Emperor, and only the intervention of Pope Saint Gregory II saved Leo’s throne. The ungrateful tyrant, however, far from yielding to the entreaties of Christ’s Vicar, redoubled his efforts to enforce his heresy. He sent a large fleet to Italy for the purpose of plundering Rome, and many of the other cities, in punishment for the attachment of the people to the worship, as he was pleased to call it, of sacred images. The commander of the fleet was ordered to seize the Pope and bring him a prisoner, bound hand and foot, to Constantinople.

The expedition failed when a furious storm struck and shattered the fleet off the coast of Ravenna, but this, instead of halting Leo, increased his fury, and the setting up of a Greek national church, the logical outcome of the proud habit of the Greek Emperors of interpreting for themselves the teachings of the Popes, was brought even closer to fulfillment. In his History of the Heresies, Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori tells the story of the Iconoclast heresy with all the unction and clarity of a Doctor of the Church:

“The first and fifth acts of the Seventh General Council,” he says, “attest that the Gentiles, the Jews, the Marcionites, and the Manicheans had previously declared war against sacred images, and it again broke out in the year 723, in the reign of Leo Isaurus. About this period, a captain of the Jews, called Sarantapechis (or four cubits), induced the Caliph Jezzid to commence a destructive war against the sacred images in the Christian churches, promising him a long and happy reign as his reward. He, accordingly, published an edict, commanding the removal of all images, but the Christians refused to obey him, and six months afterwards God removed him out of the way. Constantius, Bishop of Nacolia, in Phrygia, introduced this Jewish doctrine among Christians. He was expelled from his see, in punishment of his perfidy, by his own diocesans, and ingratiated himself into the Emperor’s favor, and induced him to declare war against images.

“Leo had already reigned ten years, when, in the year 727, he declared publicly to the people, that it was not right to venerate images. The people, however, all cried out against him; and he then said, he did not mean to say that images should be done away with altogether, but that they should be placed so high up, out of the reach, that they should not be soiled by the people kissing them. It was manifest his intention was to do away with them altogether; but he met the most determined resistance from Saint Germanus Patriarch of Constantinople, who proclaimed his willingness to lay down his life for the sacred images, which were always venerated in the Church.

“. . . Leo persecuted the Catholics with great violence. He sent for the Patriarch, Saint Germanus, and strove to bring him over to his way of thinking; but the Saint told him openly, that whoever would strive to abolish the veneration of images was a precursor of Antichrist, and that such doctrine had a tendency to upset the mystery of the Incarnation; and he reminded him of his coronation oath, not to make any change in the traditions of the Church.

“All this had no effect on the Emperor; he continued to press the Patriarch, and strove to entrap him into some unguarded expression, which he might consider seditious, and thus have a reason for deposing him. He was urged on to adopt this course by Anastasius, a disciple of the Patriarch, but who joined the Emperor’s party, and was promised the see of Constantinople, on the deposition of Saint Germanus. The Saint, knowing the evil designs of Anastasius, gave him many friendly admonitions. One day, in particular, he was going in to see the Emperor, and Anastasius followed him so closely that he trod on his robe.

“‘Do not be in a hurry,’ said the Saint; ‘you will be soon enough in the hyppodrome’ (the public circus), alluding to his disgrace fifteen years afterwards, when the Emperor Constantine, who placed him in the see of Constantinople, had his eyes plucked out, and conducted him round the hyppodrome, riding on an ass, with his face to the tail; but, for all that, kept him in the see, because he was an enemy to the sacred images.

“The Emperor, in the meanwhile, continued a bitter enemy of the Patriarch Saint Germanus, and persecuted, not alone the Catholics who venerated the sacred images, but those also who honored the relics of the saints, and invoked their intercession, not knowing, or, perhaps, not wishing to learn, the difference between the supreme worship, which we Catholics pay to God, and that veneration which we pay to relics and holy images.”

Pope Saint Zachary was well aware of all this. The two letters of Pope Gregory II to Leo were very well known to him. In 731, Saint Gregory III also had written the threatening Leo:

“. . . The Fathers, our masters, and the six Councils, have handed down as a tradition the veneration of holy images, and you refuse to receive their testimony. We implore you to lay aside this presumption….

“You think you can terrify us by saying, ‘I will send to Rome and break the image of Saint Peter, and I will order Pope Gregory to be carried off in chains, as Constans did to Pope Martin.’ But know that the Popes are the mediators of peace between the East and the West. We fear not your threats; at one league’s distance from Rome, in the direction of Campania, we are secure. If you wish to try, you have only to come; you will find the Westerns well disposed to avenge the injuries which you have inflicted on the Easterns. The West offers to give to the See of Peter an effective proof of its Faith. If you send anyone to break the image of Saint Peter, I warn you there may be blood shed. For me, I am innocent; and all the crime must fall on you.

“. . . You know, sire, that the decision of the dogmas of the Faith does not belong to the Emperors, but to the bishops, who wish, consequently, to have liberty to teach them….”

Pope Saint Zachary had seen the effects of Leo’s persecution of all who continued to venerate holy images. Calabria and Sicily had been heavily taxed, and in all the countries where Leo’s power reached in the East, the estates belonging to the patrimony of Saint Peter had been confiscated. The entire Catholic world bowed in grief before the spectacle of the cruel persecution of Saint John Damascene, the last of the Greek Fathers and the greatest theologian of his day, who in Syria had defended the honor due to sacred images.

Saint John Damascene had published three brilliant discourses on the proper use of images. He had stressed, in his sermons and in his writings, the truth that the prohibitions formerly laid upon the Jews with regard to images were not applicable to the Christians, because now that the Second Person of the Most Adorable Trinity had become incarnate and assumed the form of man, His representation as man was both possible and admissible. This so infuriated the Emperor that, bolstering his charge by means of a forged letter, had spent a great part of his life fighting the Mohammedans and knew almost better than anyone else the depths of their treachery – now accused Saint John of Damascus of being a traitor to the Mohammedan conquerors of Syria! Heresy and the hatreds it engenders are full always of such wild inconsistencies.

Leo had the saintly and learned Doctor turned over to the Saracen Caliph, Hiokam, who condemned him as a traitor, and ordered that his hand be cut off.

“His innocence was, however, miraculously proved,” Saint Alphonsus Maria tells us. “Animated with a lively faith, he went before an image of the Blessed Virgin, whose honor he constantly defended, placed his amputated hand in connection with the stump of his arm, prayed to the Holy Mother that his hand might be again united to his body, that he might be able to write again in her defense. His prayer was heard, and he was miraculously healed.”

The vengeance of Almighty God in the end caught up with the wicked Leo. The Saracens invaded the Empire – although this time not on a grand scale – and laid waste the most beautiful of his provinces; pestilence and famine ravaged his entire land. He came down with one loathsome disease after another, and finally died miserably, in 741.

The heresy of Iconoclasm would continue to harass the Church for one hundred and eighteen years. But what Leo the Isaurian could not know was that its immediate effect would be something which he did not in the least desire: the breaking off of the political suzerainty of Constantinople over Rome and the alliance of the Holy See, for purposes of protection, with the Franks. All meaning would thus forever be taken out of the ancient title, the Eastern Roman Empire.

Italy had suffered as no other country from the hostile invasions of the barbarian nations, who one after the other fought for possession of her battle torn soil. Forsaken in their pleas for assistance by the Eastern Emperors and their exarchs at Ravenna, the Italians had learned to turn, in the midst of their greatest dangers, to the Popes, who never failed them. The Holy Roman Pontiffs came gradually to be regarded by the people as their temporal, as well as their spiritual rulers. This was not, as we saw, a role which the Popes welcomed; indeed the burden of being forced to assume it had been almost too much for Pope Saint Gregory the Great to bear. But the Bishops of Rome had discharged their unbidden duty with such charity, genius and wisdom that they had saved not only Rome, but the whole of the Italian peninsula as well.

Pope Saint Zachary found himself faced, at the beginning of his pontificate, with the same old and apparently perpetual problem. Luitprand, King of the Lombards, was preparing a new advance into Roman territory. The exhausted people were desperate in their anxiety, and, as usual, they had no other recourse than to appeal to the Holy Father for protection. Pope Zachary, like Saint Leo before him, responded by setting out to confront the robber king in his lair. He journeyed to Terni, where he knew Luitprand was resting, and so compelling was the force of his words that he was able not only to dissuade the King from his campaign, but to win back from him the four cities which the Lombards had taken from the Romans and had occupied for two years; as well as the restoration of all the patrimonies of the Church which “the Longbeards” had taken within thirty years.

Pope Zachary actually, at the same time, concluded with Luitprand a truce for twenty years between the Roman duchy and the Lombard nation. We are told that throughout the entire affair the Pope appeared as the secular ruler of Rome and the Roman territory, and that upon his return his grateful people went in procession to Saint Peter’s, solemnly to give thanks to God for their deliverance, again through the hands of His Vicar.

The following year, Luitprand made ready to attack Ravenna. This time, it was the Emperor’s viceroy, the exarch, who, along with the Archbishop of Ravenna, besought the intervention of the Pope. Saint Zachary, for the sake not of the heretical Emperor, but of the poor Italian people trapped in the path of the terrible Lombards, sent envoys to treat with Luitprand, and when they met with no success, he set out once again, this time for Pavia. And once more he was successful. The Pope induced the Lombard chief not only to abandon his proposed attack on Ravenna, but to return to the people of the city all the lands which he had taken from them.

King Luitprand died soon after his meeting with Pope Zachary at Ravenna and there came to the throne of the Lombards, Ratchis, the King who from the beginning of his reign showed only friendliness toward the Roman Pontiff. In 749, a surprised world learned that King Ratchis had abdicated in favor of his brother. Ratchis journeyed to Rome with his wife and daughter, and there all three took monastic vows before Pope Zachary. All three entered monasteries, Ratchis going to the Benedictines at Monte Cassino. In 748, Pope Zachary had, on the occasion of the completion of the new abbey upon the ruins of the historic old buildings razed by the invaders, consecrated the new church and exempted Monte Cassino from the jurisdiction of the bishop, making it subject only to the authority of the Holy See.

One of the consolations of Pope Zachary’s life, in the midst of his great temporal cares, was the filial friendship of Saint Boniface and the active correspondence which he had with him. Boniface, the saint and the apostle of Germany, because of the magnitude of his apostolic labors, has been ranked beside those other extraordinary missionaries, Saint Paul and Saint Francis Xavier. He was baptized Winfrid by his Anglo-Saxon parents, and was born at Devon, in England, in 680. At the age of five he entered a monastery at Exeter, to become a Benedictine monk. He was ordained to the priesthood in 710, while he was head of the Abbey School at Nutshalling, in Winchester.

Said by many to be the greatest light of the English Church at that time, the monk Winfrid, who from such a beautifully early age had belonged to God, had set his heart, not on intellectual pursuits, but on the conversion of the pagan barbarian peoples in Germany. While he was on a visit to Rome in 718, Pope Gregory II set the seal of God’s approval upon this desire by commissioning him to evangelize the Germans. In 723, the same holy Pope consecrated him a bishop and changed his name to Boniface (boni faciens, good doing). Pope Gregory III made him an archbishop, and Pope Saint Zachary confirmed him Archbishop of Mainz (Mayence).

For thirty-seven years, Saint Boniface labored, reforming the clergy and laity as well as converting the barbarians. He divided Germany into dioceses and established a hierarchy. And over the entire countryside there arose, under his direction, monasteries of men and women. With his own hands, he cut down the sacred oak, the Tree of Thor, which the pagans venerated and over which, they boasted, the mighty God of the Christians had no power. When the gigantic oak shuddered under the axe of Saint Boniface and fell to the ground, and there stood before them unharmed and smiling the great Christian Father, the faith of the barbarians in their gods was thoroughly shaken. Boniface, his face suffused with joy, welcomed them into the one true fold of Jesus Christ, and baptized them in great numbers.

No matter how intense or absorbing his labors became, Saint Boniface never failed to keep in close touch with Pope Zachary, and each was to the other a reserve of strength and inspiration. There is among their correspondence a document of especial interest to us in the light of all the conjecture there has been in the newspapers of our country over the past few years [and even more today!] on the possibility of “inhabited planets” other than our own. Many wild surmises have been made, all growing out of the purported sighting of something called “flying saucers,” which were reported to have been seen in the skies over several of the United States. A well-publicized moralist at Catholic University, in Washington, actually allowed himself to be drawn into the popular myth weaving, and articles written by him on the likelihood of men on Mars – with a special theology to fit them – began to appear in newspapers and magazines throughout America.

Now of one thing we can be absolutely sure, and that is the name our Pope, Saint Zachary, would call this doctrinal exhibitionist. We have it in his own writing, in answer to Saint Boniface’s complaint that an Irish priest named Virgilius was disturbing men’s minds by teaching “that there was another world, other men on another planet beneath the earth, another sun, and another moon.”

“If it is well proved that Virgilius has spoken thus,” Saint Zachary wrote, “you must convene a council and expel him from the Church. We are addressing to this same Virgilius letters of evocation, so that he may be minutely questioned in our presence and, if found guilty of holding false doctrine, he may be sentenced to canonical punishment.”

Pope Zachary ordered Saint Boniface to reprimand Virgilius, and he asked the Duke of Bavaria, in whose country the priest was working, to send him to Rome so that his doctrine might be examined. It transpired that in the end it was not necessary for Saint Zachary to condemn Virgilius, for the priest completely yielded to the correction and counsel of his Holy Father and went on, in the light of pure and chaste theology, to sanctify himself. He became Bishop of Salzburg, and, glorious to relate, lived a life of such holiness and heroism that he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.

But Pope Saint Zachary did denounce in this connection, “certain heretics who maintained the existence of a race of men not descended from Adam and not ransomed by Christ.”

It should be added, because of the controversy which later centered around it, that this condemnation of Pope Zachary’s was not intended to mean that he condemned the opinion that the world was round and that men might easily be living on the other side of it – as some have tried to make out – for both Pope Zachary and Saint Boniface were well acquainted with the fact that the earth was round and one of the Doctors of the Church, the Venerable Bede, had expressly taught so. But he did condemn, and we have his words for it, the teaching of the existence of a race of men – on another planet – who were not, and who could not have been, descended from Adam and who were not ransomed by Christ.

What can be said, therefore, of a priest in our time, a supposed authority in theology, who would allow the possibility of a second Incarnation, and therefore a second Virgin Mother for God? Our Lady is Virgo Singularis in all creation and in all God’s thought, just as in our fallen race she is more than the one immaculately conceived. She is, as she declared to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes, the Immaculate Conception.

Our Lady did not say to Saint Bernadette, “I am the one immaculately conceived.” The radiant Queen of Heaven said, rather, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

The most important and far-reaching act of Pope Saint Zachary’s pontificate was his fatherly intervention in the appointment of the King of the Franks. The Merovingian kings, so called from Merowech, an ancestor of Clovis, had long ceased actually to rule France. They were kings in name only, while the public affairs of the Frankish nation came gradually to be administered by the Mayors of the Palace. Pepin of Heristal, Mayor of the Palace for the entire kingdom from 687 to 714, established a strong central government, which his son, Charles, inherited and maintained. It was Charles who stopped the advance of the conquering Moslems up through Spain and into France, at the famous Battle of Poitiers, in 732, and saved Europe for the Faith. Ever after the Battle of Poitiers, Charles was known as Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer. He it was who gave protection to Saint Boniface for the three years he and Saint Willibrord – his famous Anglo-Saxon Benedictine companion – worked among the Frisians, in ancient Holland.

Charles Martel was succeeded by his two sons, Pepin the Short and Carloman, who divided the rule of the kingdom between them. Both Pepin and Carloman had been educated at the Abbey of Saint Denis. Carloman was deeply religious, and in 747, resigning his authority, he was received into a religious order by Pope Saint Zachary, in Rome. Pepin the Short, father of the future Charlemagne, was then left in possession of the entire kingdom.

At this point, there occurred the act on the part of Pope Saint Zachary which, although he could not possibly foresee it, was to be the beginning of a chain of events leading to the temporal independence of the Popes. This chain of events we will follow, in this book, because without an understanding of the struggles of the Bishops of Rome to maintain their temporal independence – so necessary for the fulfillment of their spiritual mission – it will be impossible to realize the extent of the fierce battle which has been waged through the centuries between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness, between our glorious Popes and the diabolic Prince of this World.

A good realization of the struggles of the Popes to maintain their temporal independence is especially necessary for an appreciation of the situation which confronted the heroic Pope Pius IX in 1870, when the Masonic government of Italy seized the Papal States and the Pope became a voluntary prisoner within the palaces of the Vatican; when the insolent Law of Guarantees, drawn up by this same usurping government, assured the Holy Roman Pontiff of the same honors within the Italian Kingdom as were accorded “other foreign sovereigns,” and provided that he should “continue to enjoy the Vatican, which in reality remained in the possession of the Italian State!” This to the Popes, to whom Italy owed its Faith, its culture, its very existence!

A realization of the temporal struggles of the Popes is necessary also for a knowledge of all that Pope Pius XI had to take into consideration before he concluded, in 1929, with the Italian Premier, Benito Mussolini, the celebrated Lateran Treaty, which brought into being the present Vatican City.

But to return to Pope Zachary’s unwitting start of the long chain of events. In the year 751, Pepin the Short sent his emissaries, Bishop Burkard, of Wurzburg, and Chaplain Folrad, of the Abbey of Saint Denis, to Pope Zachary to lay before him the following question, freighted with historic importance. “Did it seem right to Pope Zachary that one should be king who did not really possess the royal power?” (Pepin was referring, of course, to the Merovingian “Do Nothing” kings, “who carried the name of king without having royal authority.”)

The action which followed upon Pope Zachary’s answer to this question – an answer which was, above all else, a “doctrinal decision on a case of conscience which the French had voluntarily submitted to his tribunal” – was, by God’s Providence, to reverberate through ten centuries. Pope Zachary answered, “It is better to call him ‘king’ who is invested with authority, than him who is deprived of it.” Whereupon, Pepin the Short, on the authority of the Pope, was crowned and anointed King of the Franks by Saint Boniface, in 752.

Thus, all unknowingly, was the first step taken on the road leading to the temporal independence of the Popes. Thus was the way opened for the ideal relationship between Church and State which would come to fruition in the blessed pontificate of Pope Saint Leo III and the illustrious reign of Charlemagne. Thus was the foundation laid for the great Christian Republic, so called, of the Middle Ages, which was to come to such full flower in the brilliant and holy reign of Pope Innocent III, and to die such a disastrous death, almost a hundred years later, under the gloriously unbending and steadfast Pope Boniface VIII, who gave his life for the sacred dogma of the divinely appointed custodianship of the Holy Roman Pontiff over matters of faith and morals, over the consciences of men, be they even kings and emperors, and that for the salvation of every human creature it is necessary that he be in personal submission to the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

Saint Zachary’s life was filled with labors on many fronts. He found the time to carry on theological studies and to translate into Greek the Dialogues of Pope Saint Gregory the Great. He restored the Lateran Palace, the gift of the Emperor Constantine to the Popes, and he had translated to the Church of Saint George, in Velabro, the head of the martyr Saint George which had been found during the repairing of the decayed old palace. He forbade names to be given to any of the angels except those mentioned in Holy Scripture: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. It had been held, on the authority of some illuminated manuscripts, that four other angels, Uriel, Saltiel, Geudiel and Barachiel, had also been invoked, but these Saint Zachary refused to include.

When he found that Venetian merchants were buying slaves in Rome which they planned to sell to the Saracens in Africa, Saint Zachary, shocked and outraged, bought all the slaves in the market, “so that Christians should not become the property of heathens!” He educated the slaves, and gave them their freedom. Earlier in his pontificate he had threatened to excommunicate all who would sell Christian slaves to Jews.

Saint Zachary died on the fourteenth of March, 752, deeply mourned by the poor, whose tender father and watchful benefactor he had ever been.

Three years after the death of Saint Zachary, Saint Boniface, then seventy five years of age, embarked with fifty-two companions down the Rhine River to undertake the work he had, as a young priest, vowed to accomplish for God, the conversion of the entire Frisian people. The conviction was strong upon him, as he set out, that from this mission he would not return. However, he and his devoted missionaries succeeded in baptizing many thousands, and even in establishing among the Frisians some courageous and zealous Catholic communities.

In June, 755, the little fleet was anchored at Dokkum, beyond the Zuyder Zee, where Saint Boniface planned to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to those whom they had baptized. The appointed day, June 5, arrived, and all was in readiness. And then, just as the venerable apostle, grown old in the service of his Lord, was preparing to say Mass, there appeared suddenly, not the Christian converts whom he was expecting, but a band of pagan Frisians, piercing the air with their shrieks and calling for the death of the Christian Fathers. Before Saint Boniface could do more than cry out to his missionaries, “Take courage! Those weapons can do no harm to our souls!” the axes of the pagans had fallen. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and his brave followers had given their lives to bring to ancient Germans and Dutchmen the living waters of that Faith without which no man can be saved.