Boniface of Tarsus

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Saint Boniface of Tarsus
Born Third century
Died May 14, 307
Tarsus, Cilicia
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast May 14 (pre-1969 General Roman Calendar); December 19 (Eastern Orthodox Church
Attributes Martyr

Saint Boniface of Tarsus was, according to legend, executed for being a Christian in the year 307 at Tarsus, where he had gone from Rome in order to bring back to his mistress Aglaida (also written Aglaia) relics of the martyrs.


Aglaida and Boniface (painting by Alexandre Cabanel)

Boniface was one of Aglaida's slaves. The name Aglaida is sometimes given as Aglae. Both were pagans and lived in debauchery together, some legends say they were even lovers. Tiring of their way of life, both discover Christianity as a meaningful way. Aglaida decides to sent him on an errand to collect holy relics. Finding upon arrival at Tarsus that the authorities were torturing Christians, he openly declared himself to be a Christian. His own body constituted the relics that were brought back to Aglaida, who in turn became a Christian.

In his memory she constructed a church, which today is the Church of Santi Bonifacio e Alessio. She distributed her wealth to the poor and lived in a monastery for 18 years. She apparently received the divine gift to exorcise evil spirits.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates both of them on December 19 as the "Martyr Boniface at Tarsus in Cilicia and Righteous Aglaida of Rome."

In the twelfth century the name of Boniface (without Aglaida) was included in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, with the lowest rank of feast ("Simple"). His celebration, on May 14, was reduced by Pope Pius XII to a commemoration within the ferial Mass in 1955 (see General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII), and was omitted completely from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 because of the totally fabulous character of his "Passio".[1] In some traditions (including the German tradition known to Martin Luther, he is counted as one of the Ice Saints.[2]


  1. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 123
  2. ^ Flaskamp, Franz (1964). "Der h. Bonifatius im Blickfelde Luthers". Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 46: 219–26. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Boniface of Tarsus at Wikimedia Commons