Fulda Faculty of Theology continues Fulda’s tradition of education, which began with the foundation of the monastery of Fulda (in 744) and its school (in 748) and enjoyed its apogee under Hrabanus Maurus and Rudolf von Fulda. During Prince-Abbot Balthasar von Dernbach’s reign (1570-1606), a grammar school was opened in 1571 by the Jesuits on the site of the Benedictine school. Professorships of philosophy and theology were established during the course of the 17th century. In 1584 Pope Gregory XIII founded a papal seminary college for the Jesuit grammar school, and this attracted students from a wide catchment area. In 1734 Adolf von Dalberg founded a university consisting of four faculties by virtue of papal and imperial privileges.
In 1805, after the governing Prince Wilhelm Friedrich von Oranien-Nassau had suspended the activities of this university, the seminary college was able to continue to deliver academic education to the future priests of the diocese of Fulda.
During the course of the 19th century the Pope and the German episcopate’s plan to establish a free Catholic university in Fulda did not come to fruition. The theology and philosophy academy and the seminary college were temporarily closed in 1874 as a result of the struggle between the Church and state (“Kulturkampf”) which took place between 1872 and 1887. Both were reopened under Bishop Kopp in 1886. The rectorate’s constitution was written in 1939. On 1st March 1965, Bishop Adolf Bolte established the ‘Fulda Institute for Higher Education in Philosophy and Theology’ as an independent “persona moralis in ecclesia“ and implemented the institute’s statute.
The faculty’s legal status with regards to the government of the state of Hessen is described in articles 9 and 12 of the Concordat and article 60 of the constitution of the state of Hessen.
As a result of the continued efforts of Bishop Eduard Schick, the ‘Fulda Institute of Higher Education in Philosophy and Theology’ was promoted to a theology faculty effective of 22nd December 1978. This was done through legislation of the ‘Holy Congregation for Catholic Education‘. On the 23rd of February 1983, the faculty received a charter from the Minister of Education for Hessen and was officially recognised as an academic institution of higher education.
Fulda Faculty of Theology has the right to award all academic qualifications including the ‘Diplom’, master, licentiate, doctorate and, since 2001, habilitation (postdoctoral lecturing qualification).