PIRMIN (PERMIN, PRIMIN), SAINT: Abbot and missionary in southern Germany; d. at the monastery of Hornbach (75 m. n.n.w. of Strasburg) Nov. 3, probably in 753. According to Rabanus Maurus (q.v.) he was a foreigner, and being a Benedictine, it is concluded that he was an Anglo-Saxon. He was first known as rural bishop of Meaux, where he preached in Latin and Frankish, during the reign of Theodoric IV. (720-737) and was called thence as missionary to the people about Lake Constance. There he first established the monastery of Reichenau on an island in the western arm of Lake Constance. When the Alemanni under Theobald rose against Charles Martel, Pirmin was compelled to leave his see, and repaired to Alsace, where, under Count Eberhard, he completed the monastery of Murbach in the Vosges. He is also said to have founded the religious houses of Altaich in Bavaria and Pfaefers in Switzerland, of Schuttern and Gengenbach in Offenburg, Schwartzach near Lichtenau in Baden, Maurmünster and Neuweiler in Alsace, and finally the abbey of Hornbach near Zweibrücken.
There still exists a document of Pirmin entitled Dicta abbatis Pirminii, de singulis libris canonicis scarapsus; first published by J. Mabillon in Vetera analecta, iv (Paris, 1723); ed. by A. Gallandi in Bibliotheca veterum patrum, xiii., pp. 277-285 (Venice, 1779); MPL, lxxxix. 1030 sqq. Scarapsus is evidently a corruption for excerptus. These sayings written in barbarous Latin are directed to baptized Christians, offering instruction in faith and morals and supported by abundant Scripture citation. Man was created to fill the vacancy made by fallen angels. Satan is vanquished by the humility of the Son of God and sin by the cross. The vocation of the Christian is to follow Christ and shun evil. Of elementary sins there are eight: lust, gluttony, fornication, wrath, despair, recklessness, vainglory, and pride. He warns against the fleshly sins: divorce, which should not be permitted excepting with the consent of both parties and for the love of Christ; fornication, covetousness, untruthfulness, and sorcery. Actual sins are to be atoned for by almsgiving.