Selenite is a specific variety of the mineral gypsum, named after the Ancient Greek goddess of the moon, Selene. The Greeks especially appreciated the beauty of selenite, even making windows with the stone. This gemstone received its official name from J.G. Wallerius in 1747 when he wrote Mineralogia, eller Mineralriket.
Gypsum as a general material has been valued since as far back as the Egyptians where it was used for decorative purposes. One unique use of selenite is in the Santa Sabina church in Rome: the large arched windows (built in the 5th century) are made of sheets of selenite, not glass. After large amounts of gypsum were found near Paris, France, a material known as Plaster of Paris was created. Plaster of Paris is gypsum that has been chemically altered to extract the water within. It's also said French farmers used raw gypsum as a soil additive.