Have you ever wondered how a pilgrim from ancient times could reach Mont St-Michel? This magnificent island monastery situated on the northwestern coast of France has been attracting millions of tourists every year.
But, its history goes far beyond tourism. It has been a significant religious site for centuries and was considered one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe during the Middle Ages.
The story of Mont St-Michel dates back to the 8th century when Aubert, Bishop of Avranches received a vision from Archangel Michael asking him to build a church on the island. According to legend, Aubert initially ignored the vision until Michael burnt a hole in his skull with his finger as a reminder.
Since then, Mont St-Michel has become an important pilgrimage site attracting people from all over Europe. The pilgrimage routes varied depending on where you were coming from, but most started at local churches or cathedrals.
Routes for Pilgrims
- The Paris Route – This route took pilgrims through Chartres, Le Mans, and Alençon before reaching Mont St-Michel.
- The Normandy Route – This route started at Rouen and went through Caen and Coutances before reaching Mont St-Michel.
- The Brittany Route – This route started at Saint-Brieuc and went along the coast before arriving at Mont St-Michel.
Challenges Faced by Pilgrims
The journey to Mont St-Michel was not an easy one. Pilgrims had to face several challenges along the way. Some of them are:
Many pilgrims had to travel long distances to reach Mont St-Michel. The journey could take several weeks, and pilgrims had to walk most of the way.
Finding a place to stay was another challenge for pilgrims. They either had to carry their own tents or rely on the hospitality of locals.
Food and Water
Pilgrims had to carry their own food and water as there were very few places along the way where they could get them.
The End of Pilgrimages
The popularity of Mont St-Michel as a pilgrimage site declined after the French Revolution in the late 18th century. The monastery was converted into a prison, and pilgrimages were banned.
However, in the early 20th century, interest in Mont St-Michel as a pilgrimage site was rekindled. Today, people from all over the world visit Mont St-Michel not just for its religious significance but also for its historical and cultural importance.
In conclusion, reaching Mont St-Michel as a pilgrim was not an easy feat. Pilgrims had to face several challenges along the way, but their perseverance paid off when they reached this holy site. Today, Mont St-Michel stands as an important symbol of Christianity’s influence on European history and continues to attract millions of visitors every year.