Saint of the Day – 17 December – Saint Sturmi of Fulda (c 705-779) Priest, Monk and Abbot, Missionary, disciple of Saint Boniface and Founder and first Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery and Abbey of Fulda. Sturmi’s tenure as Abbot lasted from 747 until 779. Also known as Apostle of the Saxons, Apostle of Germany, Sturm, Sturmius.
Sturmi was born c 705 in Lorch, Austria and was most likely related to the Agilolfing Dukes of Bavaria. He met Saint Boniface when the latter was carrying out the church reorganisation 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).
Sturmi was Ordained in 740 as Priest in Fritzlar. In 744 he was instructed by St 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. He established the Monastery in the ruins of a 6th-century Merovingian royal camp, destroyed 50 years earlier by the Saxons, at a ford on the Fulda River.
Following studies at St Benedict’s Monastery in Monte Cassino in 747–748, Sturmi was named first Abbot of the Fulda Monastery by St Boniface. In 751, St 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 St Boniface, this exemption led to serious conflicts between Lullus, then Archbishop of Mainz and Abbot Sturmi. Nevertheless, Sturmi prevailed over the Bishops of Mainz and Utrecht in having Boniface, buried in Fulda after his Martyrdom in 754. 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, Sturmi 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. Sturmi later 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.
Sturmi was recognised as a Saint prior to the East–West Schism in 1054, hence the Orthodox Church continues to honour him. He was formally Canonised in 1139 by Pope Innocent II. His life was recorded in the Vita Sturmi by the fourth Abbot of Fulda, Eigil of Fulda (died 822), a relative of his, who had been a Monk in Fulda for over 20 years under Abbot Sturmi.