The Oath of Saint Boniface

Boniface is an inspiration to me because he was a missionary to the barbaric people of what is now Germany. I quoted already his advice to a young Christian on the value of the Scripture, and it seems unlikely that an evangelical Christian could find anything wanting with such a strong endorsement of the study and memorization of the Bible. But here we find him making a very solemn oath in the name of God to Peter not to violate the mind of the Catholic church.

So how is this reconciled with his high view of Scripture? Very naturally I think. He will not interpret Scripture in any way prohibited by the Catholic Tradition. Tradition sets a limit around how one can interpret Scripture. It is not a second fount of doctrine at all, but a guide in rightly interpreting the sole fount: Scripture.

The Oath Taken By Boniface (30 November 722)

In the name of God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

In the sixth year of Leo, by the grace of God crowned emperor, the sixth year of his consulship, the fourth of his son the Emperor Constantine, the sixth indiction.

I, Boniface, by the grace of God bishop, promise to you, blessed Peter, chief of the Apostles, and to your vicar, the blessed Pope Gregory, and to his successors, in the name of the indivisible Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and on thy most sacred body, that I will uphold the faith and purity of holy Catholic teaching and will persevere in the unity of the same faith in which beyond a doubt the whole salvation of a Christian lies. I will not agree to anything which is opposed to the unity of the Universal Church, no matter who may try to persuade me, but in all things I will show, as I have said, complete loyalty to you and to the welfare of your Church on which, in the person of your vicar and his successors, the power to bind and loose has been conferred.

Should it come to my notice that some bishops deviate from the teaching of the Fathers I [will] have no part or lot with them, but as far as in me lies I will correct them, or, if that is impossible, I will report the matter to the Holy See. And if (which God forbid) I should be led astray into any course of action contrary to this my oath, under whatsoever pretext, may I be found guilty at the last judgment and suffer the punishment meted out to Ananias and Sapphira, who dared to defraud you [Peter] by making a false declaration of their goods.

This text of my oath, I, Boniface, a lowly bishop, have written with my own hand and placed over thy sacred body [at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome]. I have taken this oath, as prescribed, in the presence of God, my Witness and my judge: I pledge myself to keep it.


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