painting by Marek Maruszewski-- http://paintingart.pl
Northern Hesse c. 700 AD
He must have been just as odd, cocky, outspoken, and a bit mad, as any of their priests. Cut down this stinking tree of death, he said, or I will. The tree and the entire grove around it was sacred, and hanging from the branches of these trees were horses, pigs, rabbits, thieves, cowards, and lazy, drunken sons-in-law. They kept the choosing secret, the priests did, who would go. But there was still shame in it, though no one spoke of it.
The great tree, Thor's tree, had given them much. For years, their sons had built boats, and brought back riches. Their farms prospered. People were happy. The youngest son of the chieftain, he built a boat, but he didn't come back. There were too many young people, and not enough land. He said to his father, I don't want to stay here, and wait on a tree. He remembered his son's words, when Wynfryd spoke to them.
They were angry. No one suffers as much as the tree of life does. We must give back to the tree, for it sustains us all. But they did not harm Bonifatius, because Martel was at hand, and they didn't want to lose their farms. If anyone harms Thor's tree, they will die. That was without question.
But he came back, the very next day, with an axe, and alone he hewed into the ancient tree trunk, now partially rotten, full of birds and insects, foul pockets of water, worms, lichen heavy on the branch, like the white hairs of an old man, a frail thing, really. Its branches rose into a sunny bliss where Odin's sacred deer danced, arms reaching out in all directions, twisted, arthritic, acorns deep on the ground; wild boar came there to feed, and pillows of moss comforted them when they slept in the grove. Anyone who came alone to the forest might be killed, by these pigs. After not much work on the part of the saint, a wind came, and it fell over. A miracle, Wynfryd proclaimed.
He said he would build a chapel here, with the wood. All he really got out of it was his pulpit. But they listened to the man, because he was brave, and because he did not die. They also felt that they had been freed from the onerous duty of sacrifice, sacrifice that never ended. The whole world aches with the burden of man, the priests had said. Your farms, your houses, your boats, these things take a heavy toll on the forest, on the tree of all living things. You must give back to the tree.
Odin himself, he hung on this tree, and suffered. He wasn't that different from Jesus, even though he is a demon, now.
The end of the world is at hand, but it didn't come about by the hand of Carolus Martellus. This world is no longer permanent. All things shall change. We listen to the words of the dying one: this is how we prepare ourselves, for the end of days, whenever it may come.
St. Boniface. The bible with a sword piercing it is a symbol of his martyrdom. He apparently started baptising in areas of Allemania that were not under military protection, and was ambushed by pagans, probably for plunder. A bible was found there with a sword slashed into it, and legend has it that he held the bible over his head when he was struck down. In Germany, he is the patron saint of brewers, among other things.