Sunday, January 6, 2008


The beauty of the Mont-St-Michel

After a week in Spain my wife and I headed to Lit-a-Mix, France where I was to speak to a concave for missionary families that would arrive at this coastal city for a week. It was such a beautiful place and the families from Spain and France added to the wonderful time there.

After that event we rode with a couple farther into France visiting and speaking in a number of churches until arriving for a few days in Rennes for some relaxation. We had hoped to visit one of the military cemeteries in Normandy and photograph the marker of a soldier who was killed during the infamous invasion in World War II and taking the picture back to a mother who had always wondered about his burial place. The cemetery was well organized listing every person by section and row so our visit was brief but long enough to be stunned by the beauty of its layout.

As we headed toward Brittany's emerald coast we saw countless homes with thatched roofs many of which included the refuge for the animals along with the living quarters for the family in the same building. Then into the small towns where the old dress of the family traditions were still worn. Everywhere we went it was an event that we have not forgotten.

The walled city of St. Malo was a great place for a delicious lunch of Choucrute (Kratt and wieners with a layer of pork). The historic town, famous for its privateer past, ramparts and unique architecture was a delight. A walk around Saint-Malo's ramparts and ancient shops was a unforgettable experience.

However, we were yet to see the unique setting, beauty and architecture of the Mont Saint Michel. It is truly the "wonder of the western world" and is the second most visited place in all of France after the Eiffel Tower.

A Benedictine Abbey, it is unquestionably the finest example both of French medieval architecture and of a fortified abbey. The buildings of the monastery are piled round a conical mass of rock which rises abruptly out of the waters of the Atlantic to the height of 300 feet, on the summit of which stands the great church. This rock is nearly a mile from the shore, but in 1880 a causeway was built across the dangerous quicksand that occupies this space and is exposed at low water, so that there is now no danger in approaching the abbey. The monastery was founded about the year 708 by St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, and according to the legend, by direct command of the Archangel Michael himself, who appeared to the bishop in a dream on three separate occasions.

On the entrance heading up to the abbey are countless shops and cafes for the wondering pilgrim. Like many, before and after, we stopped in one of the cafes for another meal. Our friends from Rennes (pronounced Ren) remembered what they had at this very place on a previous visit. Snails were their selection. For most of an hour I viewed them as they with a small hooked wire pulled the meat from inside the shell that housed the slippery morsel. Finally, I decided I would taste the item. Well, it was not as bad as my imagination but something I have learned to do without.

After the meal and relaxation was over, we headed to the top to view the unusual place with all its features. It was worth the climb. After a longer that expected trip we returned back to the area when we had left the ladies. My wife's keepsake from this visit in a very small piano made of porcelain to remember this place in France.

In 1872 the French Government took over the abbey as a national monument and under took, none too soon, the task of restoration. The work has gone on almost continually ever since, and the restorers must be praised for the skill with which the great pile has been saved from ruin, and the good taste with which the whole has been done.

An Italian architect, William de Volpiano, was chosen as building contractor for the mount in the 11th century. He designed the Roman church of the abbey, daringly placing 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. Today Mont Saint Michel is seen as a gothic-style church.

It remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever visitied. However, I am reminded more often for its reason for being. I cannot vouch that the angel St. Michael visited there but I do know the Bible gives to St. Michael four offices: 1.To fight against Satan. 2. To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. 3. To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church. 4. To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment.

Your visit from Him will surely be someday.

Jude 1:9, Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, do not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

1 comment:

KARNA said...

Hello there. I was writing a blog today about my father who was in france during WWII and would always talk about mont-st-michel. He would relay that the story went that angels appeared around the structure during the war. Have you ever heard of that? I am googling to a faretheewell to find out.

(I too am a Christian; nice to meet you). Karen

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