Mont-St-Michel island abbey connected with natural land bridge
Visitors must climb 900 steps to visit abbey
Mont-St-Michel, also written Mont Saint Michel) is a small island from the north coast of France at the mouth of the Couesnon River in Normandy. The abbey is best known for the medieval Benedictine Abbey and steepled church. Connected to the mainland by a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide, gave the mount a mystical quality.
Connected to the mainland by a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide, gave the mount a mystical quality.
The mount poses challenges for visitors who avoid the causeway and attempt the dangerous walk across the sands from the neighboring coast. Many continue to lose their lives on account of this dangerous practice.
Visitors have their work cut out for them with many areas of arduous climbing. By the time pilgrims have mounted the celebrated Escalier de Dentelle or Lace Staircase to the abbey church, you will have climbed no fewer than 900 steps. The climb is highly worthwhile as halfway up Grande-Rue is the medieval parish church of St-Pierre, which features a richly carved side chapel with its dramatic statue of St. Michael slaying the dragon.
The Grand Degré, a steep, narrow staircase, leads to the abbey entrance, from which a wider flight of stone steps climbs to the Saut Gautier Terrace outside the sober, dignified church.
The cloisters offer vertiginous views of the bay. Visitors can wander at leisure and probably get lost among the maze of rooms, staircases and vaulted halls that make up the abbey.
Le Mont-St-Michel was used in the 6th and 7th centuries as a stronghold of Romano-British culture and power until it was sacked by the Franks; thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in 459 AD.
The island was originally called Mont Tombe. According to legend, the archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and told him to build a church on the rocky islet.
Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel's instruction until Michael burned a hole in the bishop's skull with his finger. With haste, the dedication to St Michael occurred on October 16, 708.
The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when the Normans annexed the Cotentin Peninsula. This put the mount on the new frontier with Brittany.
An Italian architect, William de Volpiano designed the Romanesque church of the abbey in the 11th century. The architect daringly placed the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight. These formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today.
The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations such St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, England. However, its popularity and prestige as a center of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence.
During the Revolution the abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Travel News
- Treasure trove of Byzantine artifacts found at Umm al-Rasas
- Taking to the skies? Watch your wallet!
- Cavalaire-sur-Mer, France: Côte d'Azur without the attitude
- United Airlines crew refuses to protect teen girl exposed to sex act
- Lively, modern city of Amman has rich historical past
- Abbey of St. Foy is longtime medieval pilgrimage route
- Austere Abbaye de Fonteny filled only with light
- British man visits all of the world's 201 nations - without flying in a plane
- The Basilique Ste-Madeleine second only to Notre Dame in size
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Greece (Footsteps of St. Paul)
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilisation of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. It is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, political science and more.
The Parthenon is a temple in the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their ...
Mount Athos is a mountain on the eponymous peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. The peninsula is called the "Holy Mountain". In Classical times, the ...
Agia Triada Monastery
Agia Triada Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Akrotiri peninsula in the Chania Prefecture, Crete, Greece. It also contains a ...
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM) • Catholic Online • 9/18/2013
The ancient city of Umm al-Rasas in Jordan has yielded a treasure trove of Byzantine artifacts ever since excavations began there in 1986. Much of ...
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM) • Catholic Online • 9/12/2013
Flying is by far the most expensive way to travel, and it's not necessarily just the cost of your airplane ticket. Passengers who desire a decent ...
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM) • Catholic Online • 6/24/2013
Cavalaire-sur-Mer in France is a lovely tourist destination that is not that well known but is still beautiful regardless. In fact, it has many ...