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In The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, Sturm, the real-life abbot of Fulda, makes a brief appearance in 772 amid the ruins of the Irminsul, a pillar sacred to the pagan Saxon peoples. Here is an imagined sermon, as heard by my heroine’s son, Deorlaf:

“I am Father Sturm,” he said. He spoke the common tongue but his accent was strange. “My companions and I want to free you from the Devil’s bonds and bring you to the True Faith.

“We tried to teach you peacefully, but you committed an abomination when you burned our churches and slaughtered our missionaries. This,” he said, holding his hand toward the blackened ground, “is retribution.

“You were taught that your devils will smite anyone who tries to harm the pillar, but your devils are powerless before the one true God. If you think you are suffering now, think of how much worse hell will be, like being dragged in a barrel full of red-hot irons. But you have a choice. Accept baptism, and you will know an eternity of joy.”

My characters have only this encounter with Sturm, but the abbot led an interesting life, one that involved nine years in the wilderness looking for the perfect spot for a monastery, a fight over a relics, royal politics, and the Christian mission in conquered Saxony. Visit Tinney Heath’s Historical Fiction Research and learn what my characters didn’t know about St. Sturm.

Codex Eberhardi

By Brother Eberhard at Fulda monastery (12th century, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)