CHORISTERS from Tavistock Parish Church were invited to sing at a special service at Exeter Cathedral, in which 16 people from all over the diocese received awards honouring the Patron Saint of Devon.

They were presented with The Medal of St Boniface, conferred by the Bishop of Exeter in recognition of outstanding service to the church and wider community. The event, on Saturday, July 23, was well attended and included the Bishop of Crediton and the Bishop of Plymouth. During the service Canon Deborah Parsons and Dr John Curtis interviewed the awardees, now regarded as Companions of St Boniface.

During the service Tavistock choir sang Psalm 150 Laudate Dominum (‘O Praise God in His Holiness’), a chant by Charles Villiers Stanford and two anthems, Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ (music by Howard Goodall) and Charles Wesley’s ‘O Thou Who Camest from Above’ (music Philip Stopford).

The Company of St Boniface was established in 2019 as a way of honouring those who have made a substantial contribution to the life of the church in Devon, or who have built up overseas links in witness to Christ. In that year Devon County Council voted to adopt St Boniface as Patron Saint of Devon.

Born in Crediton around the year 675, Wynfrith was an Anglo Saxon who took the name Boniface when as a young man he entered the monastery in Exeter. A gifted Latin scholar and poet, he was ordained priest when he was 30 and in the year 716 offered himself as a missionary to Frisia, in northern Europe.

Boniface’s skill in preaching the Gospel led him to being commissioned by the Pope to work in Hesse and Bavaria, Germany. In 732 he was made Archbishop of Mainz and immediately appointed various missionary bishops to take forward the systematic evangelisation of central Europe. Today he is honoured as the ‘Apostle of Germany’ and is judged to have had a profound influence on European history and culture. He was murdered by pagan mercenaries on June 5, 754; June 5 now being his Feast Day.