|Conversion of Europe|
Historian Bruce Shelley, in his Church History in Plain Language, writes about the conversion of Europe to Christianity:
The bristling forests of northern Europe were inhabited by barbarian tribes who sacrificed animals and worshiped nature spirits among the trees and beside the streams. Any missionary who ventured among them, with any hope of conversions, had to demonstrate the superior power of the Christian spirits.
The most famous incident tells of one eighth-century missionary named Boniface who marched into a shrine in Germany, the sacred forest of Thor, the god of thunder. The cult object was a massive oak. Boniface, so the story goes, took an axe to it. Just as he leveled the first stroke, a mighty breath of wind from God toppled the tree. The pagans marveled and were converted. Boniface used the wood to build a chapel to Saint Peter.
That is the stuff that made Europe Christian. The missionary monks overthrew barbarian magic by calling down superior powers. God blew, and the tree fell. A miracle here and a victorious battle there; and the Germans were ready for baptism.
Reference: Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 152