Hi all again! This is Trisha and if you are reading this for the first time, I wanted to get you caught up. Last month I was privileged to attend a Spirituality tour of France that included some spectacular sites, like Chartres, Liseux, Basilique Saint-Therese, Sanctuary (Sainte-Anne d’Auray), and Mont Saint Michel. While I am doing my best to cover the incredibly large historical and religious value of these sites, the reality is that in no way could I tell you how amazing each one of these locations were. And comparing them is not an option because each was so rooted in being spectacular and having its own real story, that to tell you I loved one over the other wouldn’t be entirely correct.
If you want to get caught up on my trip, please read the back story here:
- An American in France
- Basilique Sainte-Thérèse
- Teresa de Lisieux: Basilique Sainte-Thérèse
Mont St Michel
I have to admit that when I saw the itinerary, that Mont St Michel was one of those places that made my heart stop, but being in person is hard to explain. Our first visit in the location was to stop at the tourist area and learn all about the history of the Mont and why some of the restoration was being done. In layman’s terms, the Mont used to be completely surrounded by water, but as the land and surrounding areas were changing, it was proven that eventually Mont St Michel would be complexly land locked rather than being stuck in the middle of the water- which was part of its extraordinary setting. They knew they had to do something about it and there has been a restoration project in play for nearly 10 years.
How Mont St. Michel explains it
Today, the site is threatened by the progress of silt and sand around the Rock. This sand encroachment phenomenon in the bay is natural, but has been amplified by human activities around the Mont. The French Government, Europe and local authorities have decided to join forces to preserve this gem of humanity in its original setting. Launched in 2005, the operation to restore the Mont-Saint-Michel’s maritime character strives to put the Mont back in phase with the tides gain and by 2015 to offer visitors welcome conditions that are in keeping both with their own expectations and the prestige of the site itself
Go here to learn more about the Restoration of Mont St Michel to its maritime character or you can also download a PDF file in English that shows all the progress here.
When you arrive at Mont St. Michel, you are in for a walk. There are buses and horse drawn carriages that go back and forth out to the island, but you will really miss how incredible the view is if you go that route.
Just park and walk- trust me!
Here are just a few pictures of approaching the Mont.
Outside Mont St. Michel
Inside Mont. St. Michel
Why was Mont St. Michel built?
The short version is that the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert and told him to build it. Of course he ignored Michael and so Micheal got a bit mad and put his finger on his skull and burned a hole in it. Then St. Aubert was like…ok, I get your point, I am going to build it- and he did. It’s said that one of the local towns actually has the skull with the hole in it!
Best part of the Mont?
There was some discrepancy in how many people live out there depending on who we asked, but I believe the final confirmed number was only 13 people. 13 people actually live there and they are all Monks and Nuns. I was privileged enough to be able to spend the NIGHT, something nearly no one in the world can say, in the nunnery. I had one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had about religion, archangels and the devil at dinner with a priest- and with a translator at that.
(Priest in middle and me there on his right, your left if you are reading this, black shirt. I am short.)
But the truly best part of the Mont that most people do not visit (according to a priest I talked with there) is the Abby. The Abby is at the very top and you can actually do vespers, which we did, and it was so beautiful I cannot explain!
I asked why most people do not go all the way up and he basically said that by the time people travel to the Mont, they don’t have the physical capabilities to get to the top. And I hate to say it but he specifically said Americans had a hard time.
It did require a TON of stairs and yes, winded me. I may have stopped a few times on the way up the levels- but it was worth it.
I think the one thing the Mont taught me, aside from a ton of great religious stories, is that we have a very limited knowledge as Christians on all there is to learn and be a part of.
I came home from this trip and the first thing I said to my spouse was that we have to go back next year. Not when we retire, not some day in the future when we have more money or more time, but now. Now while we are able to walk, and get up those stairs and learn and appreciate.
I do have plenty more pictures to show you and some video but this post is long enough. I will be updating with another link shortly so I hope you come back to see more.
Also, still coming is my day to Sainte-Anne d’Auray (hospitality unlike anywhere I have ever been) and Chartres- which was a WOW WOW WOW night.