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 the 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 the 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 “magister theologiae”, licentiate, doctorate and, since 2001, habilitation (postdoctoral lecturing qualification).
There has been close cooperation between the Fulda Faculty of Theology and the Catholic Theological Seminary in Marburg ever since the latter’s foundation through the episcopal see in 1961. Gerhard Matern was its first director while at the same time holding a professorship in Fulda, and the professors of the Faculty of Theology continue to teach at the Catholic Theological Seminary in Marburg today.
The new “Magister Theologicae” degree course was introduced beginning with the winter semester of 2010/2011. The “Agency for quality assurance and accreditation of canonical degree courses” (“Agentur für Qualitätssicherung und Akkreditierung kanonischer Studiengänge e.V.” – AKAST), which was granted the right to accredit degree courses on the 31st October 2008 by the German Accreditation Council, accredited the Master’s course in Catholic theology (Mag. theol.) offered by Fulda Faculty of Theology, the relevant certificate being issued on the 18th March 2010. On the 16th September 2010, the course was accredited for five years by AKAST. From the point of view of church law, the regulations for the degree course and examinations came into force with their publication in the official church gazette for the diocese of Fulda after being confirmed by the grand chancellor on the 30th September 2010 and after their approbation by the Congregation for Catholic Education on the 8th November 2010. The course’s accreditation was renewed according to the decision of the accreditation commission (accreditation council, AKAST) on the 15th September 2016 and is valid until the 30th September 2022.
On the feast day of St. Hrabanus Maurus, the 4th February 2015, the grand chancellor, Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, signed a law on the administration of universities in the diocese of Fulda (“Gesetz über die Hochschulträgerschaft im Bistum Fulda”). Through this law, the Catholic Theological Seminary of the Philipps University of Marburg, which trains students wishing to become teachers in the subject of “Catholic religion” at grammar schools, was integrated into the Fulda Faculty of Theology.