Mont Saint-Michel, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1979, is a small, rocky, tidal island in Normandy, about one kilometer off the north coast of France. It is situated at the mouth of the Couesnon River, near the border with Brittany. Mont Saint Michel is noted for its Benedictine Abbey and steepled church, which were built between the 11th and 16th centuries.
Until recent times Mont Saint-Michel was connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which flooded rapidly with the incoming tides, thus creating the tidal island. In 1879, the land bridge was fortified into a causeway and now there are plans replace it with a bridge, while at the same time removing the silt to
once again create a tidal island.
Mont-St-Michel was used as a stronghold as far back as the 6th century. 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.
Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called Mont Tombe. According to legend, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. But Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel’s instruction until Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger. That did the trick. The dedication to St Michael occurred on October 16, 708. Of note, Mont St. Michel lies along the St. Michael Leyline and marks one of several sites along this energy meridian of the Earth where Archangel Michael has been sited throughout history.
The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when the Normans annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, thereby placing Mont-Saint Michel on the new frontier with Brittany giving it strategic significance. It is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, which commemorates the 1066 Norman conquest of England. Ducal and royal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries.
During the Hundred Years’ War, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the English assaulted Mont Saint Michel, but were unable to seize due to the its fortifications.
The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations. However, its popularity and prestige as a centre of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation and by the time of the French Revolution Mont Saint Michel had lost almost all of its monks. Some of the monks who had left the site had traveled across the sea to Cornwall, England with the sacred Lantern Cross (click on link to see our video of the Lantern Cross) to form St. Michael’s Mount monastery.
During the Revolution the abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836 influential figures, including
Victor Hugo, had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874. Mont Saint Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. Now it is the third most visited site in France, after the Tour Eiffel and the Château de Versailles.
We (The Shift Doctors) found it hard to sense the higher vibration of the St. Michael leyline on this site until we reached an area in the garden with the original granite uncovered. The layering of building on the site and the lowering of the vibration by housing prisoners there likely masks some of the original leyline energy. The Italian architect, William de Volpiano, designed the abbey’s Romanesque church with its crypts and chapels. In the crypt there is one of the few statues of the Black Madonna with child.
Robert de Thorigny, built the main façade of the church in the 12th century, and the gothic refectory and cloister were built in the 13th century. Charles VI added fortifications to the abbey-mount, building towers, and strengthening the ramparts.
The tides at Mont Saint Michel can rise approximately 14 meters from the low water mark. The incoming tide creates a wall of water, creating dangerous conditions which have led to many drownings. The tides in the area shift quickly, and has been described by Victor Hugo as à la vitesse d’un cheval au galop, “as swiftly as a galloping horse.” The tide actually comes in at 1 meter per second, the speed of a briskly walking person. Popularly nicknamed “St. Michael in Peril of the Sea” by medieval pilgrims making their way across the tidal flats, the mount can still pose dangers for visitors who avoid the causeway and attempt the hazardous walk across the sands from the neighboring coast. The dangers from the tides and the perilous quicksand of the tidal flats continue to claim lives.
Hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂
The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.)
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