Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The shaping of Europe

We can easily think of the map as having always been as we see it today. For convenience we group countries and cultures that are in reality quite distinct one from the other. Ask someone who speaks one of the more than 2000 languages of Africa about "African culture" and they will laugh because there is no one African culture. Even today we watch Europe struggle as it tries to maintain some sense of unity. Unity as we have seen in the readings around Pentecost was the great prayer of Jesus for his Church, and yet we continue to pull apart.

Today is the memorial of St. Boniface. Born in what is today England, it was his missionary work in the late 7th and early 8th century that gave shape to what we think of as Europe. In some ways the fact that we think of Europe at all is influenced by his work in unifying the church of the time.

His work was so extraordinary that he tomb in Fulda, Germany became a place of pilgrimage.

We all know St. Patrick the patron of the Irish American immigrants. Today we remember Boniface the patron for German and our German-American immigrants.