Saint Sturm (c. 705 – 17 December 779), also called Sturmius or Sturmi, was a disciple of Saint Boniface and founder and first abbot of the Benedictine monastery and abbey of Fulda in 742 or 744. Sturm's tenure as abbot lasted from 747 until 779.
|Died||17 December 779|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1139 by Pope Innocent II|
Sturm was born c. 705 in Lorch, Austria, and was most likely related to the Agilolfing dukes of Bavaria. He met Saint Boniface c. 735 when the latter was carrying out the church reorganization in Bavaria and Austria (founding the bishoprics of Salzburg, Regensburg and Würzburg). He joined Boniface and was educated in the Benedictine monastery of Fritzlar by abbot Saint Wigbert. He was then active as a missionary in northern Hesse, where in 736 he established a monastic settlement in Haerulfisfeld (Hersfeld). Ordained in 740 as priest in Fritzlar, Sturm was instructed by Boniface in 744 to establish a monastery in the region of Eichloha, which had been granted to Boniface by the Frankish Mayor of the Palace Carloman. In the ruins of a 6th-century Merovingian royal camp, destroyed 50 years earlier by the Saxons, at a ford on the Fulda River, Sturm established the monastery.
Following studies at St. Benedict's monastery in Monte Cassino in 747–748, Sturm was named first abbot of the Fulda monastery by Boniface. In 751, Boniface and his disciple and successor Lullus obtained an exemption for Fulda, having it placed directly under the Papal See and making it independent of interference by bishops or worldly princes. After the death of Saint Boniface, this led to serious conflicts between Lullus, then archbishop of Mainz, and abbot Sturm. Nevertheless, Sturm prevailed over the bishops of Mainz and Utrecht in having Boniface, so-called Apostle of the Germans, buried in Fulda after his assassination in 754 near Dokkum in Frisia. This made Fulda a major place of pilgrimage for many peoples, including Anglo-Saxons, and brought much prestige and a stream of gifts and donations to Fulda.
Building on this success, Sturm was able to fend off efforts by the bishops of Mainz and Würzburg to invalidate the abbey's exemption. He was sent into exile from 763 to 765 at Jumièges (Normandy), but was rehabilitated in 765 by Pippin the Younger. In 774, the Abbey of Fulda received royal protection from Charlemagne. In the same year, Fulda was assigned missionary territories in heathen Saxony, thereby becoming a bridgehead in the Frankish political efforts to seize the Saxons' lands and forcibly impose Christianity on them. Sturm established the abbey of St. Boniface at Hamelin. In 779, he accompanied Charlemagne into Saxony, but fell ill and died soon after returning to Fulda on 17 December 779, where he was buried in the cathedral.
Sturm was recognised as a Saint prior to the East–West Schism in 1054, hence the Orthodox Church continues to honour him. The post-1054 Roman Papacy did not accept all pre-Schism saints, sometimes reviewing their status. He was accordingly formally canonized in 1139 by Pope Innocent II. His life was recorded in the Vita Sturmi by the fourth abbot of Fulda, Eigil of Fulda (d. 822), a relative of his who had been a monk in Fulda for over 20 years under abbot Sturm.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz (1975). "Eigil (Egil), 4. Abt von Fulda". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 1. Hamm: Bautz. col. 1479. ISBN 3-88309-013-1.
- Nicolaus Heutger (1996). "Sturmius". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 11. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 149–150. ISBN 3-88309-064-6.
- English translation of Eigil's Life of Saint Sturm
- Article on Sturm from "The Compass"