A little bit of history...
In 708 there was a bishop living in Avranches, the town on the way to Mont Saint Michel. The name of this bishop was AUBERT. Bishop AUBERT was visited by the archangel Saint Michel in his dreams. The archangel Saint Michel told bishop Aubert to build a sanctuary on top of the rock in the middle of the bay. The Bishop did not believe that revelation. As a consequence, the archangel Saint Michel visited the bishop’s dreams for the second time and he insisted : he gave bishop Aubert the order to build a sanctuary on top of that rock. But bishop Aubert did not do anything. Then the archangel Saint Michel appeared in the bishop’s dreams for the third time. As a proof of his will to have a sanctuary build on that rock, Saint Michel touched the bishop’s head and he left his finger’s mark on it. When bishop Aubert woke up in the morning, he had no choice but to believe in his dreams because he had the archangel’s finger mark of the on his head.
This legend was related in document that was written between 820 and 867. This document, entitled “Revelation about the Church of Saint Michel on Mount Tombe” is the only text in the whole religious history that is dedicated to the archangel Saint Michel. A copy of this text is still kept in the library of Avranches.
This is how it all started. The very first sanctuary build by Bishop Aubert could only accommodate a hundred people. It was not very big.
In 966, the Duke of Normandy of the time, Richard the 1rst decided to bring Benedictine monks in Mont Saint Michel and these Benedictine Monks started to build a bigger abbey and they created a monastery in a Romanesque architecture.
Another reason why the monastery of Mont Saint Michel became so important is because the monks were able to write. The scriptorium of the abbey of Mont Saint Michel became a reference for cultural influence all over Europe.
During the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), Mont Saint Michel resisted the English invasion and was never taken. Many French knights who refused to serve the English invaders came to Mont Saint Michel and defended it. Then Mont Saint Michel became a symbol of resistance to the English occupation. The most famous resistant at the time was Joan Of Arch who was told by the archangel Saint Michel to kick the English out of France.
At the end of the Hundred Years War Mont Saint Michel became a symbol of victory and it became so popular that pilgrimages increased very much. So many pilgrims came to Mont Saint Michel after the Hundred Years War that the abbey got rich enough to build the flamboyant gothic section of the abbey : the Marvel.
Throughout the centuries, Mont Saint Michel became a very important place for pilgrimage. Still nowadays, pilgrims are coming over to Mont Saint Michel.
The French Revolution of 1789 transformed the abbey of Mont Saint Michel into a laic place. No more religious activity was allowed in the old monastery and abbey. The abbey was transformed into a prison and workshop for the prisoners.
In 1872 a great plan of renovation and protection of this incredible heritage was set up. Mont Saint Michel was classified as a “Historic Monument” by the French government in 1874.
This plan of protection of Mont Saint Michel allows us to admire this beautiful and incredible monument like it is nowadays. Mont Saint Michel is now listed on the UNESCO heritage.