On November 7, 1492 a loud explosion announced the fall of a 280 pound stone meteorite in a wheat field outside the walled village of Ensisheim in the province of Alsace, France which at the time was part of Germany.
A young boy was the only eyewitness. He led the townspeople to the field, where the meteorite lay in a hole 3 feet deep. After it was retrieved, people began to chip off pieces for souvenirs until stopped by the town magistrate. The townspeople accepted the stone as an object of supernatural origin.
King Maximilian of Germany passed through Ensisheim three weeks later and examined the meteorite proclaiming it a sign of God's wrath against the French, who were warring with the Holy Roman Empire. Maximilian ordered the great stone displayed in the parish church in Ensisheim as a reminder of God's intervention in the conflict.
There it remained, in a cage chained to the church to keep it earthbound, until the French Revolution when it was confiscated from the church by French revolutionaries and placed on display in a new national museum in nearby Colmar. In the museum, French scientists removed numerous pieces from the main mass for study. Many of those pieces eventually wound up in museums around the world.
Ten years later, it was returned to the church in Ensisheim.
The remaining specimen, weighing only 122 pounds, round from centuries of sample removal and nearly absent of crust was taken to its final resting place in 1854, the Regency town hall in Ensisheim. And there, much diminished but occupying a position of honor, it remains to this day carefully watched over by “The St. George Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Ensisheim Meteorite”.
Founded in 1984, The Brotherhood personally handles all things having to do with the stone from accompanying it to foreign lands for display to teaching the next generation to arranging the annual Ensisheim Meteorite show where it is celebrated. It is made up of local appointed residents sworn to protect it.
We, members of the Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Ensisheim Meteorite take the oath today that the 23rd of June in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred eighty-four, to keep the memory of all Ensisheim residents and their friends and relatives near and far, the memory of this heavenly gift to us was done in 1492, the same year as the fabulous discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
To perpetuate the fame of this event not only in the township and our region, but around the world, so it is a worthy ambassador of our city.
To promote all activities Body and Spirit
To promote, with all our strength, the reputation of our city.
To offer relief and assistance in all circumstances.
We declare that our Brotherhood has no political or religious affiliation, we simply express our pride in being Ensisheimoise or Ensisheimois. Every inhabitant of Ensisheim may be part of the Brotherhood. Suffice it to them to express the desire to always wear the honor of our city and to be inducted before the Grand Council.
Each year The Brotherhood enthrones new members with selection based upon notable contributions to the world of meteorites and meteoritics. I had been invited several years back for this honor but attendance at the meteorite show is mandatory for accepting it and the timing wasn't right.
In 2012, 520 years after the fall, I was able to attend and show coordinator Zelimir Gabelica saw to it that my enthroning was confirmed, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream of joining the Confrerie des Guardians de la Meteorite d'Ensisheim.
I was in excellent company alongside Eddy Caulier (F/B), Art Ehlmann (TCU, USA), Ludovic Ferrière (Vienna, F/A), Claude Nauwelaerts (B) and Dima Sadilenko (RU).
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