Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Mont Saint Michel
Perched upon a 264 feet rock formation on the coast where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet in France, is the World Heritage site of Mont St. Michel. Mont Saint Michel is named after the arch-angel Saint Michael and is known as the Wonder of the Western World. Construction of the original abbey took more than 500 years from 1017 to 1521! The origins of Mont St. Michel can be traced back to a legend that has the archangel Michael appearing in a series of dreams to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches. Saint Michael tells Aubert to build a church on what was then a barren rock called Mont Tombe. The Monks of Mont St. Michel were revered for their copying skills before the printing press was widely in use. The abbey's monastic independence was undermined during the 17th century, when the monks began to flout the strict rules and discipline of their order, drifting into a state of decadence that culminated in their dispersal from the abbey. Mont St. Michel then served as a prison for a period of time. In 1874, the abbey was handed over to the French government with the aim of preserving the abbey for the ages. Emmanuel Fremiet's famous gilt statute of St. Michael was added to the spire in 1897. Currently, Monks live and work here again, just as in medieval times.