One of the great thing about being hosted by locals is getting some of the local stories. The Reicherts told us a great tale of Hohentruedlingen, the little town where we met the friendly farmer. Some years back it grew a little in population so they decided they needed a bigger church. However, they didn’t like the thought of knocking down the walls of the old one. So a logical solution emerged: they just built a bigger church all around the smaller one, a church in a church. Could there be an ecumenical analogy here?
We also learned that Oettingen itself, back in the day, was on the border of competing territories of two princes, one Catholic and one Lutheran. The compromise they settled on was dividing the town down the middle. On one side of town all the houses are Baroque, and thus Catholic; on the other side they’re all half-timbered houses, and thus Lutheran. The division was so clear that they even referred to the local Jews as “Catholic Jews” and “Protestant Jews,” depending on what side of town they lived in!
The other interesting tidbit we learned is that this whole region is called the Ries, a sort of flat dip in the hilly land, caused by an enormous meteorite that hit the earth about 15 million years ago. In Noerdlingen, where we’re headed next, there’s a museum about it, prominently featuring a bit of moonrock that some American astronauts brought to compare with fragments of meteorite found in the earth here.