Fulda (fŏlˈdä) [key], city (1994 pop. 58,710), Hesse, central Germany, on the Fulda River. It is a banking and financial center. Manufactures include textiles and clothing. Fulda grew around a Benedictine abbey founded in 744 by Sturmius, a pupil of St. Boniface, the missionary. From this abbey Christianity was spread throughout central Germany; numerous scholars were associated with the abbey school. From the 13th cent. the abbots of Fulda ruled the town and the surrounding area as princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and in 1752 they were raised to the rank of prince-bishops. Fulda was secularized in 1802, and most of it passed to Hesse-Kassel in 1816. Since 1829, Fulda has again been an episcopal see and is now the site of the annual conference of the Catholic bishops of Germany. A theological seminary is in the city. Noteworthy buildings include the baroque cathedral (1704–12), in the crypt of which St. Boniface is buried; the Michaelskirche (c.820), a Carolingian-style church; and a castle (1720).