Sts. Lioba and Boniface (Eighth Century)
Sts. Lioba and Boniface enjoyed a rich spiritual friendship. St. Lioba was an English nun who was a distant relative of St. Boniface. When she heard that St. Boniface was serving as a missionary in Germany, she was intrigued and she decided to begin a correspondence with him. Out of their correspondence grew a devoted friendship.
After twelve years of sending letters back and forth, Boniface asked if Lioba and some of her sister nuns might join him in Germany to help start monastic communities for women there. He knew that Lioba was an educated woman, schooled in the scriptures, the church fathers, and canon law. It was said that she was never seen without a book in hand.
The bonds so often present in the lives of the saints can serve as a model for those seeking to enter into authentic friendship with others. Through friendship, the saints were able to overcome the traditional barriers of sex, age, and rank. Friendship allowed these holy people to open their hearts and to experience the awakening of their souls.
By the time the women arrived, Boniface had become a bishop and was able to provide them with a monastery in Mainz. Lioba was successful in establishing the sister monasteries that Boniface had so hoped to see.
In 754 Boniface traveled to non-Christian Frisia as a missionary. As he left Lioba, he told her that it was his wish that she would be buried beside him so that “their bodies might wait for the resurrection and be raised together in glory to meet the Lord and be forever united in his love.”
Boniface died as a martyr. Lioba often visited his grave, and when she died, more than twenty years later in 780, she was buried close to the bones of Boniface, in order to remain his companion, both in life and in death.