Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most well-known landmarks in Normandy, France. This important rock rises majestically in the middle of an immense estuary extending from the coasts of Normandy on the north to those of Britanny on the south and from the sea on its northwest side. It has been called Mont Saint-Michel since the 8th century.
A legend tells that Archangel Michael came down to earth at this location and showed a group of fishermen how to fish for salmon by pointing them West with his spear; when they followed his direction, they found themselves being rewarded with great prosperity!
Saint Aubert, Bishop of Avranches erected in the eighth century a church to honor Saint Michel who had appeared to him several times. He was able with God’s help and knowledge to what dimensions it should be built. He gave twelve clerks, called canons, goods, and property for their food and clothing.
The system of providing water for the canons didn’t seem to be enough, though. Therefore they and those who were with them began praying in the name of Saint Michael and asking him to show them a way out by revealing fresh water sources.
The archangel appeared to the bishop and showed him at the foot of a rock a fountain; not only have thirsty ones quenched their thirst, but also infirm and fever-stricken people who drink from it recover their health. From that time on, the fountain was called Saint-Aubert, which has long been used by sick and thirsty people until cisterns were invented.
The story of the Archangel Michel appearing to Saint-Aubert spread far and wide. Pilgrims visited from distant provinces, the pope sent holy relics, and King Louis XIV even traveled to visit his namesake. Soon after, it became known as The Mont-Saint-Michel in honor of all who were saved through its divine intervention—or because the waves at high tide cause it to be dangerous for those unfamiliar with it that create paths on a shingle beach that are mostly inaccessible during low tides.
For centuries, the Mont Saint-Michel was considered one of the holy places in France with celebrity status. But when Norman invaders invaded Charlemagne’s dismembered empire, life, as it was, knew came to an end for many people on the island and some found shelter on Mont Saint Michel.