Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 19, 2014

David A. Gilbert
Pages 87-109

The Novena to St. Boniface of Tarsus
A Pastoral Program for Addressing Sexual Addiction in Colonial Mexico

During the eighteenth century a priest in Mexico City wrote a novena to the once renowned St. Boniface of Tarsus to assist Christians trapped in sexual immorality. This saint was chosen in particular because of the sinful life that preceded his spectacular repentance and martyrdom. Unfortunately, the decline in devotion to St. Boniface has been accompanied by a misinterpretation of the novena by some modern readers who see it as focused exclusively on homosexuality. While the Mexican priest took a hard line against the sexual sins of his day, his novena reflects psychological insight and pastoral sensitivity that are consistent with contemporary approaches to addiction and therefore remain quite relevant.