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Missionaries of the Ax

Located in the very heart of modern-day Germany, in the province of Hesse, is a small humble town of only 15,000 inhabitants. In the middle of that town stands an imposing old cathedral built in the 12th-14th centuries of reddish stone. Situated in front of that cathedral is the statue of a man in a monk’s garb on a stump of a freshly felled oak, with a huge Saxon ax in his hand.

The humble town is Fritzlar, called Gaesmere in ancient times. It is known in Germany as the birthplace of two beginnings: Here began the Christianization of Germany, and here’s where the German Empire was born as a political entity. The statue is that of the Anglo-Saxon monk and missionary Wynfrith, also known as St. Boniface, the patron saint of Germany and the Netherlands. And the stump is the remains of the tree that belonged to the highest German god, the Oak of Thor. The Oak of Thor was the center of the pagan religion of the local tribe of the Hessians, and the most pagan Germans at the time.