In the Middle Age, the forest of Haguenau attracts a lot of hermits, and many convents are built in the surroundings: Surbourg, Walbourg, Biblisheim, Neubourg, Koenigsbruck, Marienthal… This is why it is called « The sacred forest ».
A caption that can be read on a monument, erected in 1862 near a remarkable great oak, states the following: “Here, in the hermitage which gave the Sacred Forest its name, stayed, for a long time, ignored by the world and living for God only, Saint Arbogast. His saintly life spread through, and, supported by the population and the Clergy, he was entrusted with the Episcopal See of Strasbourg, whose prestige he helped expand, by his acts, his miracles, and his lead. Alsace, thankful, offers him sincere devotion.
But this is not what really happened: actually, Arbogast has been sent by the King of the Franks, in the second half of the 6th Century, to christianize the Allemanni. That’s why he founded the Convent of Surbourg.
On the flip side, at the end of Middle Age, hermits were living in the Forest, especially near the Great Oak.
In 1913, the famous oak has been hit by lightning and fell. A part of the tree has been restored, filled with concrete, and protected by a small steel roof, to preserve its memory. Afterwards, a chapel has been built close to the petrified trunk.
Today, the area of the Great Oak, with its recreational and tourism facilities, its numerous outings, has become an exclusive meeting point for Haguenau’s families.