At the Germanna First Colony 300th anniversary celebration, Marc Wheat told those assembled at the Fort Germanna Visitor Center that perhaps the most meaningful object that our members had touched on the Germany trip with the Foundation was the Oberfischbach chalice.
It was a chalice used in that parish to administer communion by Rev. Henrich Haeger, later pastor at Germanna, and had been given to the parish by Johann Moritz, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, when he was elected Herrenmeister of the Johanniterorden (Order of St. John) in 1665.
One of the men present that afternoon was Dr. Hans-Martin Sass, delegate of the Johanniterorden to North America. Through his good offices, the Order sponsored the manufacturing of ten museum-quality reproductions of the Oberfischbach chalice, two of which would be used for a special communion service at St. John’s (across from the White House) for the Order’s first global convocation outside of Germany in its 900-year history.
As the original was in Oberfischbach, we had to rely on the Germans taking accurate measurements and photographs-and, frankly, no one could have done a better job than Teo Schwarz.
Once the exact measurements (including the size of the lettering!) were in hand they were sent off to Danforth Pewter who had agreed to produce the limited run. This involved a fair amount of trial and error work to make the bucks on which each of the pieces was hand formed.
After several weeks of careful handwork, the prototype was completed, sent to Scott MacMillan (formerly of the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland), and approved for production. The prototype was then sent to master engraver Doug Larson for hand engraving.
In order to properly engrave each piece with an exact copy of the coat of arms as it appeared on the original, Doug had to make a special rotating jig to hold the piece while he carefully inscribed each line with one of several different sized engraving tools. In all, each chalice took just a little over twelve hours to engrave.
When completed, Doug inspected each bit of the engraving using special high power lenses to make sure the lines were perfect, before removing the chalice from the jig, and giving it a final polish.
Doug, an absolute master craftsman, did a superb job, and delivered the first three chalices in ample time to be presented to the Herrenmeister of the Johanniterorden on the occasion of his visit to the United States in November of 2015.
Two chalices were exchanged as gifts between the Germanna Foundation and the Johanniterorder, and several more are with sponsors in Virginia, Texas, and Germany.
One, purchased by Marc and Marie Wheat, was used for the first communion of their children Benjamin and Laura Elizabeth on 18 September 2016-continuing a tradition begun 350 years ago.
Article by Scott MacMillan and Marc Wheat which first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of the Germanna Newsletter
View gallery of the process of making the chalice (click to enlarge):
The Germanna Foundation and the Johanniter Order — Our Shared History
Introductory Remarks by Rainer Koehler (Delegate of the Johanniter Order to the USA, Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Knightly Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem)
Culpeper, Virginia, July 16, 2016
Esteemed Members and guests of the Germanna Foundation, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to stand here today as the Delegate of the Johanniter Order to the United States on the occasion of the Germanna Foundation’s 59th Annual Conference and Reunion.
You may ask yourself what is the Johanniter Order and what has it to do with the Germanna Foundation?
The Johanniter Order is a spiritual Protestant knightly order and has its foundation in the confession to Jesus Christ. This is the basis of its existence. Without this spiritual dimension, the Order would have faded away long ago in the course of its over 900-year history.
The Johanniter Order is registered in Potsdam, the capital of the German state of Brandenburg and counts roughly 4,200 Knights worldwide.
The Order’s full title is “Brandenburg Bailiwick of the Knightly Order of St. John of the Hospital of Jerusalem” and it is one of the four Protestant Orders of the St. John “family”.
The other three Protestant Orders are:
The Johanniter Order in the Netherlands, based in The Hague,
The Johanniter Order in Sweden, based in Stockholm, and
The Most Venerable Order of St. John in London, which is also represented here in the United States by a very active Priory.
Your President Marc Wheat is a member of the US Priory of the Venerable Order of St. John and we are proud to call him “confrère.”
With me today as members of our group are my predecessor Professor Hans-Martin Sass, Dr. Frederick Schroeder, and Scott McMillan.
In 1961, the four Orders formed the Alliance of the Orders of St. John. Part of the Alliance of the Order is the Cooperation Group which includes the (Catholic) Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
We have intensive and close relationships in this circle, meeting regularly, feeling all part of one family, and having so much in common. Together, with all our aforementioned organizations, we are the largest humanitarian Christian aid organization in the world!
I am representing the Subcommandery of the USA of the Bailiwick Brandenburg, which counts 77 knights, of which about ¾ are Americans, most of whom are of German descent or have some other kind of affiliation to Germany.
You may still ask “and what has it to do with the Germanna Foundation”?
Well, it is a wonderful 300-year-old event that “bridges” our two institutions. The Johanniter Order’s Herrenmeister (“Master of Knights”), Prince Moritz von Nassau-Siegen after his investiture into the Order in 1652, had donated a communion chalice to the Protestant parish
of Oberfischbach (a small village near Siegen, in North Rhine Westphalia).
This chalice was used by Reverend Heinrich Haeger to administer communion to his parish. In 1714, Rev. Haeger and other citizens of Oberfischbach settled as miners and farmers here in Virginia and founded the town and fort Germanna.
In November 2015, thanks to the work of the Germanna Foundation and the Johanniter Order, a replica of the Oberfischbach chalice was presented to the current Herrenmeister, HRH Oscar Prince of Prussia, the 37th Herrenmeister, on the occasion of the Bailiwick Convocation in
Washington DC, the first convocation of the Bailiwick of Brandenburg that took place outside of Germany in the Order’s over 900-year history.
The engraving on this chalice read:
“Dedicated to HRH Oskar Prinz von Preussen from the Johanniter in the United States of America, November 7, 2015.”
We are very grateful to confrère Marc Wheat that he found out about this historical bond between the people of Germanna and the Johanniter Order.
It is now my pleasure to present to Marc, as we did for our Herrenmeister last year in Washington, a replica of precisely the same chalice Prince Johan Moritz gave to the Oberfischbach community from which came the Germans who settled here in 1714. The engraving on this chalice reads:
“Presented to the Germanna Foundation by the Knights of the Johanniter Order in the United States of America in honor of our shared history – July 2016.”
I wish you all a productive annual conference and to all of us the continuation of our excellent relationship as we both serve the public as nonprofit organizations through charitable and educational activities.