Saints Aglaia and Boniface: Love in Life and Death
Strange is the story of these saint lovers. Agalaia was a well-to-do patrician noblewoman living in Rome. Boniface was essentially her slave. He was younger than she was, but a charmer and good-looking. In fact, his name means “do-gooder” as well as “good-looker” in English. They fell in love and had a hot romance in secret as their society would never have permitted them to marry. Boniface was a joker, and although kind and generous, had a tendency to drink a bit too much and get involved in wild parties.
How they both converted to Christianity from paganism is a miracle. But, once they did, they felt the pang of guilt on their conscience for their illicit relationship. In an attempt to relieve the guilt and do penance, they decided to travel where Christians were being martyred to bring back holy relics. Aglaia provided Boniface for the needed supplies of the journey, and jokingly, as he took his leave, asked her whether she would not revere his bones if he ever came back a martyr. She dismissed it his playing games again.
But Boniface eventually arrived in Tarsus in Cicilia where a great persecution was under way by the emperor Diocletian. Boniface took leave of his companions to scope out the town and find out where the persecution was taking place. “The stadium” was the answer all the men on the street gave. And sure enough, upon reaching the central stadium, he witnessed how Christians were beaten and slaughtered for their faith.
He appeared before the general in charge and confessed that he too was a Christian so that he might suffer martyrdom. At first, he was not taken seriously and was basically told to “get lost.” But he persisted so much to the point of annoyance, that the guards arrested him. He was tortured and eventually decapitated.
His companions at the inn when he did not return on time went out searching for him. They thought he was tied up at a party or a brothel, but with enough inquiry they discovered that he had been martyred. Bribing the soldiers on guard, they took his lifeless body and head, and returned to the Lady Agalaia.
She stunned at his self-fulfilling prophecy received his bones and built a church where they buried him. She tended his bones lovingly and devoted the rest of her life to works of charity and godly praise. In the end, she revered his relics, and through her devotion became holy herself.
She was buried next to him when she reposed. So the two saint-lovers loved in life and in death, covering their love with the all-consuming love of Christ. They are commemorated on December 19th.