Sturm of Fulda

Sturm Of Fulda, a disciple of Boniface, and first abbot of Fulda, belonged to a noble family living in the province of Nauricum (Bavaria), and was born A.D. 710. His parents, influenced by Boniface, devoted their son to the Church, and placed him under the care of that missionary. He now traveled with his preceptor for a time, and then retired into the Monastery of Fritzlar, to engage in scientific study of the Holy Scriptures and the doctrines of the Christian faith under Wigbert. In 733 he was consecrated to the priesthood, and at once began to engage in missionary labors among the surrounding heathen communities. His leading purpose was the dissemination of Gospel truth and the introduction of the Christian worship; but he was also earnest in the cultivation of a higher morality among his hearers. After three years of successful labors, however, he felt himself constrained to enter upon a life of greater austerity. Boniface approved of his design, and directed him, for its realization, as well as for the accomplishment of an intention of his own to found a large monastery beyond the reach of danger through incursions of the Saxons, to explore the country for, a suitable site on which to erect a religious establishment. Accompanied by two associates, Sturm entered the unknown wilderness, and in three days found a place which seemed to offer every requisite except the assurance of quiet, as it was situated too near the territories of the hostile Saxons to justify the hope that it would remain undisturbed. At a later day archbishop Lullus, the successor of Boniface, founded there the Monastery of Hersfeld (768); but, by the advice of Boniface, a safer place was to be sought. Sturm now ventured into the forest alone, braving its wild beasts and its hordes of heathen, until he reached the spot where Fulda now stands, and there he found the situation of which he was in search. He returned to Hersfeld, and formed a plan for the erection of the convent; and Boniface repaired to the emperor Carloman to procure a donation of the land. At the beginning of 744, Sturm, accompanied by nine monks, took solemn possession of the locality, and rapidly pushed forward the building and arrangement of the proposed establishment. When completed, it assumed the name of the stream on which it stood, and received Sturm as its abbot. The number of monks rapidly increased, and it became necessary to arrange the plan of their government and of their ordinary life according to some strict system; and to this end a commission, to which Sturm belonged, was sent to Italy to study the methods in vogue among the Benedictines of that land. The Convent of Monte-Casino seemed to them to afford lessons in administration of especial value. They returned after having been absent a year, Sturm being detained on the journey by a severe illness at Kitzingen, on the Main; and after their arrival the discipline of Monte-Casino was introduced in all its strictness. Some of the brothers prayed, studied, or taught, while others were employed in the fields and gardens. The results of their industry, joined with the donations of wealthy patrons, greatly enriched the convent, extended its fame, and heightened the reputation of its abbot. When Lullus succeeded Boniface as archbishop, this peaceful state was rudely disturbed. Sturm demanded that the body of Boniface should be interred at Fulda, as Boniface himself had desired; but the clergy of Mayence, headed by Lullus, refused consent, and procured an order from king Pepin for the interment of the remains at Mayence. Lullus finally yielded. Another cause of trouble lay in the archbishop's assumption of the rights of ownership over the monastery, and of consequent supervision of its temporalities, which Sturm regarded as an invasion of his privileges. At the same time, three monks, who were dissatisfied with the strictness of Sturm's rule, charged him with treason against the king, and secured his citation before the court; and when Sturm, in the consciousness of his innocence, refused to defend himself, the anger of Pepin caused his banishment to the Monastery of Jumedica (now Jumieges), near Rouen. Lullus now endeavored to establish himself in the possession of Fulda; but as the monks drove away a priest whom he had appointed abbot, he gave way, and allowed them to choose for themselves. They selected Prezzold, a devoted adherent of Sturm, who at once began to labor for the pardon of his former superior; and, as other monasteries used their influence in the same direction, the end was attained. Sturm was recalled to court and reconciled to the king; and when Prezzold and his brothers of Fulda petitioned for Sturm's restoration to the monastery, the king consented, and, in addition, removed the monastery from under the jurisdiction of Lullus (762). A quiet era now began in the life of Sturm, which continued until his death. He grew in the royal favor constantly, and by his practical genius accomplished many results which increased the material welfare of his neighborhood In the beginning of Charlemagne's reign he was employed to preserve peace between the king and the powerful duke Thassilo of Bavaria, and was completely successful. A wider sphere opened before him when Charlemagne made war on the Saxons, in 772, and ordered a host of priests and other clergy to accompany the army in order to convert the conquered heathen. Sturm was especially prominent in this work, and achieved some real successes, as appears from the fact that a number of noble Saxons followed him to Fulda for instruction in the Christian faith. In acknowledgment of his services, Charlemagne donated to the Convent of Fulda an important royal domain situated in Hammelburg, on the Saale (Jan. 7, 777). When the campaign against the Saxons was repeated, in order to punish them for their revolt, Sturm was again ordered to attend the expedition; but his age forbade so great a demand on his strength, and he was left behind. He returned to Fulda and died Dec. 17, 779. He was buried in the church at Fulda, and a simple monument was placed over his remains. At the Lateran Council of 1139 pope Innocent II canonized the worthy abbot, and in 1439 bishop John of Würzburg ordered a diocesan festival in his honor. See Eigel (abbot of Fulda 818-822), Vita Sturmi, in Mabillon, Act. SS. Ord. S. Bened. Soec. 8, 2, 242-259, and in Pertz, Monum. Script. 2, 365-377; also Sturmius Brun, Lebensgesch. d. heil. Sturmius, etc. (1779, 8vo); Hist. Lit. dle la France, 4, 161; Fabricius, Bibl. Lat. Med. et Infim. AEtatis, 4, 214; Rettberg, Kirchengesch. Deutschlands (Gott. 1846), vol. 1; Schwartz, Leben d. heil. Sturmius (Fulda, 1858). — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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