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ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

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Case of Ruelisheim, in 1667:

Case number:



Between the cité Sainte Barbe straddling the grounds of Wittenheim and Ruelisheim and the village of Ruelisheim, not far from the main road from Mulhouse to Wittenheim - Ensisheim, is a large pilgrimage chapel, "Notre-Dame du Chêne" - "Our Lady of the Oak".

The legend has embroidered a poetic story as the origin of this chapel, as is very often the case for pilgrimage places in Alsace. It has been said that boys from Ruelisheim who were keeping cattle in the forest between Ruelisheim and Wittenheim at dusk, had returned to the village when they saw an old oak burning in front of them.

The oak burnt entirely, except the bottom of the trunk in which was a statue of the Virgin. The boys quickly returned to the village and told what had happened, and since that day, the faithful gather in front of this tree trunk to venerate "Our Lady of the Oak". Later, a small chapel was built there, and even later, not far, a larger chapel, "Our Lady of the Oak" was built.

Another version is that one abbot Zimberlin, parish priest of Ruelisheim from 1837 to 1841, Alsatian history buff, collected in the oral tradition that around 1667, one Oswald Fischesser, of Battenheim, was a farm hand in Battenheim or Ruelisheim. One day, having lost a head of cattle, he was fired. He went to the nearby forest, saddened, when he heard, accompanied by a beautiful melody, a celestial voice that comforted him and assured him that he should go home in peace, that he was going to find the lost beef, but he had to place a statue of the Virgin at this place.

He did find the beef but forgot about his promise. He was still hearing a voice reminding him of his safe return from the war, and eventually put a wooden statue of the "Blessed Virgin" in the hollow of an oak tree.

There would also be a document, in the past, at the Parish Archives of Ruelisheim, about a man saved by the Virgin in a painful situation and who had put in the hollow of an oak a statue of Our Lady.

All this, it seems to me, has nothing to do with the UFO issue, however Jean-Pierre Schirch, a local ufologist, mentioned this during his investigation into an alleged UFO landing in Riedisheim in 1971, assuring that in Ruelisheim, according to legend, young people lost in the forest would have seen an old oak tree suddenly burning, and from "the calcined trunk rose a statue of the Virgin, intact and resplendent."


Temporal data:

Date: 1667
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: N/A
Reporting delay: N/A

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Ruelisheim
Place: In the old forest near Ruelisheim.
Latitude: 47.823
Longitude: 7.347
Uncertainty radius: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: Several, 1.
Number of known witnesses: 0, 1
Number of named witnesses: 0, 1
Witness(es) ages: Young, adult.
Witness(es) types: Boys, farm hand.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Oral history.
Type of location: Forest.
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?


Hynek: N/A
ALSACAT: Not UFO-related.



If one goes back in history, in Ruelisheim (6 km or N), according to the legend, young people lost in the forest reportedly saw an old oak tree suddenly in flame, and from the calcinated trunk reportedly rose a statue of the Blessed Virgin, intact and resplendescent: a chapel was built by subscription in 1704.



See the summary.

Clearly, what is said to have happened at Ruelisheim in 1667 comes from several different legends, and is nothing like a UFO sighting.

It turns out that in French ufology at the end of the 1960's and since then, some "schools of thoughts" consider for various reasons that any "phenomenon" is ufology: ghosts, apparitions of the "Blessed Virgin", paranormal phenomena would be only one "phenomenon", UFOs being its modern manifestation. Jean-Pierre Schirch quoted this legend also in the context of theories of sighting locations that would be in line to each other.


Not UFO-related.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:


Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross February 1, 2018 Creation, [jsh1].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 1, 2018 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 1, 2018.