THE DEATH OF ST. BONIFACE
 BEFORE he died, Charles the Hammer divided the kingdom
between his two sons, Pepin and Carloman.
Charles had trained his sons to love their country
better than themselves, and they worked together for
the good of their people, undisturbed by a single
But at the end of six years Carloman grew tired of his
share of the task. Knowing that Pepin was able to rule
alone, he had his royal locks shorn and entered a
monastery, where he was heard of no more.
Pepin was a little man, so his people called him Pepin
the Short. But though he was little he had the great
gift of courage, and in spite of his small body he was
It is said that soon after his fathers death he gave
proof of his great strength. The Franks were one day
gathered in great numbers round an arena or open space,
to watch a cruel combat between two savage beasts. It
was their chief amusement to watch such sport, and Duke
Pepin was among the spectators.
A lion had just sprung upon a bull and brought it to
the ground, when Pepin rose to his feet, and, pointing
to the beasts, cried aloud to the Franks, "Which of you
will dare to separate them?"
No one answered the terrible challenge. Then Pepin
himself sprang into the arena, and fought both the lion
and the bull.
 The Franks looked on in horror, expecting every
moment that Pepin would be torn to pieces. But he
overpowered both the savage beasts, and then, tossing
away his sword he cried, "Am I worthy to be your king?
" And the rough warriors, to whom kingship meant little
save such bravery and strength as Pepin had just shown,
shouted aloud that he was worthy.
For ten years Pepin the Short ruled as Mayor of the
Palace, the last of the sluggard kings still sitting on
the throne where Pepin himself had placed him after the
death of Charles the Hammer.
But at the end of ten years Pepin began to think that
there was no reason why he should not be king in name
as well as in deed.
So he sent to the Pope, who in those days had power
over kings, to ask if he, Pepin, might be crowned.
"It is right that the kingly title should rest where
the kingly power now is," answered the Pope; and as
there was no doubt that Pepin had the "kingly power," the question was settled.
The sluggard king was therefore deposed, his long hair
cut off, and he himself shut up in a monastery. And
thus ended the race of the Merovingian kings.
Pepin, the new king, was then anointed by St. Boniface
in the presence of his clergy and warriors, with holy
oil, which was behoved to have come straight from
heaven. With Pepin began a new race of kings, called
after its founder, Charles the Hammer, the Carlovingian
Two Years after this Pepin was again anointed with
holy oil by the Pope himself, and along with him were
consecrated his two sons. One of these sons became the
famous Emperor Charlemagne or Charles the Great.
You remember that Charles the Hammer had taken St.
Boniface under his protection. Pepin the Short
continued to care for the good man, but his power could
not save the missionary from a martyr's death.
 But before I tell you of the fate which befell the
saint, listen to this beautiful story about the holy
Once upon a time, in his journeys, the saint came to a
land where the rude Northmen still worshipped a god
called Thor the Hammerer.
It was winter, and on a little hill a great crowd of
warriors clad in white, of women and children, gathered
around a fire that had been lighted near the foot of an
Close to the altar was a tall and ancient oak tree,
sacred to the god named Thor.
In the midst of the crowd stood the high priest, and at
his feet knelt a little child. The little child was the
offering of the people to their god. He was doomed to
die by a hammer-stroke, that Thor the Hammerer might be
But ere the hammer fell this wintry night, a quick step
came hurrying up the little hill, and Boniface the
saint, pushing the people on one side. reached the high
priest and the little kneeling child.
Very simply the stranger told the people the story of
Jesus and the Cross, and before the tale was ended the
hammer had fallen from the hand of the high priest, had
fallen harmless to the ground. The little child was
Then seizing the hammer, St. Boniface himself felled
the sacred oak, and even as he did so, his eyes fell
upon a young fir tree, standing straight and green
"Here is the living tree," he cried, "with no stain of
blood upon it, which shall be the sign of your new
worship. See it pointing to the sky! Let us call it the
tree of the Christ Child. Take it up and carry it to
the hall of your chief, for this is the birth-night of
the White Christ. You shall no more keep your feasts in
the shades of the forest with secret and cruel rites.
You shall keep them in your own homes, with happy
laughter and glad songs of glee."
Such, says the legend, was the beginning of the
Christmas tree, which boys and girls all over the world
have learned to love.
 Boniface had been made an archbishop, and had he
wished, he might have lived at ease in his palace for
the rest of his life. But though he was an old man now,
Boniface longed to carry his Master's message to the
fierce German Tribes which had never even heard of
So making one of his disciples archbishop in his stead,
the old man sand, "As for me, I will put myself on my
road, for the time of my passing away approacheth. I
have longed for this departure and none can turn me
from it." It almost seemed that Boniface foresaw what
might happen. With only a few followers he set out to
find the people whom he wished to teach. When as length
he reached their haunts he halted, and his servants put
up their master's tent. Then in that wild and lonely
place he sat down with his followers to the sacrament
of the Lord's Supper.
But a band of savages had seen the white tent, and in
their foolish rage they rushed upon the little company.
The saint's servants were brave men, and placing their
master in their midst, they prepared to defend him unto
"Hold, hold!" cried the old man, as he saw them draw
their swords; "we should return good for evil, and
trust in God"; and then he bade them put their swords
back in their sheaths, and strike no blow at the
savages whom they had come to teach.
But the barbarians, undaunted by the gentleness of the
old man, slew him and as many of his followers as they
could seize. Thus perished the holy man of God, St.
King Pepin's great work was to help the Pope against
the King of the Lombards. To do this he crossed the
Alps with his army and marched into Italy.
After a great battle, in which he was victorious, Pepin
shut up the King of Lombardy and the soldiers that had
been taken prisoners, in a town called Pavia, and made
the  king promise to stay within the gates of the
city. Then with much booty Pepin set off on his
But the Pope was not satisfied. He was sure that his
enemy would break his word and escape from Pavia, and
he wished Pepin had stayed in Italy instead of
hastening back to France.
And, indeed, no sooner was Pepin out of the country
than the Lombards, more fierce than ever after their
defeat, escaped from Pavia, laid waste the country, and
began to thunder at the very gates of Rome.
Then a strange thought came to the Pope. It was certain
that Pepin would not come back again even at the Pope's
request, but if the King of France received a letter
from the Apostle Peter, promising to reward him if he
helped the Pope, why then without doubt Pepin would
come back to Italy.
So the Pope sat down, and while the Lombards thundered
at his gates, he wrote a letter from l Peter, Apostle
of Jesus Christ, to Pepin and his warriors, to tell
them that "if they came in haste to help the Pope, he,
Peter, would aid them as if he were alive, and that
they would conquer their enemies as well as win eternal
As the Pope had foreseen when he wrote that strange
letter, Pepin, when he read it, did not hesitate to
return to Italy. Once again he crossed the Alps, and
once again he conquered the Lombards and shut them up
in Pavia, and this time, anxious for peace at any
price, the King of Lombardy kept the terms imposed upon
him by Pepin.
When the battle was over, Pepin sent for the keys of
the towns which he had taken from the Lombards, and
he sent to Rome to be laid on the altar of the church
St. Peter. In reality, to give the keys to St. Peter's
give the towns to which they belonged to the Pope.
This gift was known as the "Donation of Pepin." It was
no strange thing for kings in those days to offer their
victories to God. But you will remember Pepin's gift to
 St. Peter's because it was the beginning of the
worldly possessions of the popes.
Soon after this, as King Pepin was returning home from
battle, he was attacked by fever. His servants carried
him to St. Denis, where he died, having ruled France
for sixteen years.