|St Boniface, by Cornelius Bloemaert, ca. 1630 (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)|
The curious representation of him with a sword on which a book is spiked derives from a tradition concerning his martyrdom. At the moment when he was attacked by a group of pagans, he was reading a book, which he held above his head to keep it from being damaged by their weapons. (In the mid-8th century, any book was by definition an incredibly rare and precious thing.) His relics were taken to the abbey of Fulda, which he and a disciple, St Sturmi, had founded in 741; the abbey also had the book in question, which was venerated as a relic, its cover marked with sword-cuts, and stains believed to be his blood. The same story is represented in a Sacramentary produced at Fulda around the year 1000, now kept at the State Library of Bamberg.
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