Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saint Aubert's Faith



 My first glimpse of Mont St. Michele was from a narrow street , in  a tiny village, miles from the Mont. I am not sure it is possible to fully grasp the scale of this wonder from afar, or frankly, while you   are on the rock. It staggers the brain.

I felt enormous sympathy for St. Aubert.  By some accounts,  this 8th century Bishop of Avaranches  would visit a tidal island off the Normandy coast, known as the Rock of the Tomb, to meditate.  On one such retreat it is said the Archangel Saint Michel "thumped" Aubert on the head instructing him to build a sanctuary on this rock. There must have been disbelief, certainly resistance to the enormity of the assignment because other historians claim ultimately Saint Michael was obliged to make three such requests of Aubert until finally resorting to  using his finger to  burn a hole in Aubert's head.




I cannot understand how it is possible for anyone to see Mont Saint Michel and  not believe in God. Or miracles. Or say a prayer of gratitude to St. Aubert for his compliance. He is one of my newly recognized heroes of the faith.   It is said that one of the Tresor's of Mont Saint Michel is the preserved skull of Saint Aubert. I did not see this for myself so I cannot verify there is a hole form Saint Michel's visit. It is of no importance to me, I do not need to see Aubert's skull to recognize the miracle.



 Once parked on the causeway , walking up to the actual island, it was difficult to accept the reality. This is a medieval city. It has potable water, trees, flowers, bushes, streets, hotels, restaurants, shops, homes, and stairs. Lots and lots of stairs), incredible architecture and at the top of the spire there is  a gold statue of St. Michel. It is so  high, that even on the island, as high as I could climb and, with a 135 telephoto lens, this is the best image I could capture.




My visit here was actually on the Feast of St. Michel. There
was a special service which  I waited in line to attend then,
had a mad dash down the rock and over the causeway before the tide came rushing in. I was not staying on the Mont so getting off before the tide rushes in is essential.


I could say volumes about the wonders of the architecture but ..... well...... see for yourselves.





                                                                           
































































I could not photograph inside the sanctuary during a service.
Some did.  I took a few more images as I made my way down, down, down to the causeway level.










                                                       The shadow in the tides


       Then these last images  before driving off the causeway, back into this century.
























                                                           Sigh




                               PS) Not my photograph but too beautiful to not include:



        AND: Please take a smiling look at the coat of arms for Mont Saint Michel !!!!





AND: ONE MORE PICTURE JUST BECAUSE I LOVE THIS IMAGE:






11 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

Wow ! It's been my dream to go to mt st Micheal's since I had a French teacher I was in love with in seventh grade. This is more than awesome. These pics exceeded my expectations.
I have an Olympus camera I can't work. Every time I take a pic the person looks like they've just been told they're having triplets. Had a horrible time taking pics for Ebay too. It's probably just me, but I can't recommend It.

Pam said...

Sigh is right! Another place on my must-get-to-one-day list. So beautiful and awe inspiring. I didn't know some of the story behind the place. We did see (but not upclose) the Mount St Michael which is similar (but different) in Cornwall, England, but there is something definitely magical about this place. Thank you for sharing.

Lucas said...

sério, ao acaso eu encontrei seu blog e achei muito interessante... Gostei muito destas fotografias... Ótimo trabalho.
E desculpa por não estar escrevendo em inglês. (:

Aunty Belle said...

Heh...well, Fishy, thar's days when I think heaven is tryin' to bore a hole in mah haid too--some of us is jes' very thick headed.

In a previous trip I visted Mont st. Michel--and it's beauty never grows stale--simple magnificnet--an yorew photos is gorgeous, but now really really--that shadow on the sand? AWESOME

moi said...

Wow. Just. Wow. I didn't visit when I was there, so . . . Reason #3.1.a to go back (S.B. and I are doing the ol' "why travel overseas when there's so much to see here?" thing lately and so I may just have to go all by myself.)

Boxer said...

Wow! you went to Europe and learned how to take fabulous photos at the same time?

I've mainained for many years that our dear U.S. has more to offer than Europe, but now I'm not so sure. My Sister and her family are going next Spring and I'm beginning to think I should tag along.

how's the jet lag?

chickory said...

amazing! the coolest aspect is how in the world do you build this thing while tides are coming in and out? its astonishing, and your photos were a real treat. DIdnt you long to be "alone" with it?

fishy said...

Dan,
Didn't everyone fall in love with a teacher in Middle School? Do you still speak French? I can tell you I do not, or cannot. For some reason I just failed miserably at getting my brain and tongue in sync in French. The patience of the French, dealing with me was, impressive.

Um, life here has term limits so don't accept a camera you don't love.

Pam,
Definitely go. It is beyond my skill set to actually describe the emotions of the experience.

Lucas,
Gracias! Glad you enjoyed the photographs and your English understanding is good. Welcome.

Aunty,
I would seriously recommend listening to the thumps before the saints get drastic. What is your assignment? Does it require flying buttresses? Gargoyles? A moat?

I was there is the late afternoon to early evening so the lighting was subdued. Actually, because all local materials were used, the city really does look like it grows out of the rock. I worried about the photos being too low contrast, maybe a bit dull, but when I took a closer look I realized the quiet colorations were accurate. Did you see the last shadow on the tides photo too?

Moi,
Accurate as always, very "wow!!!" indeed. If you and SB go, stay on the Mont. I think once the day trippers clear off and the stars ignite? OMG!

Boxer,
LOL! I am still learning how to use this camera .... how are you doing with your D90? As to tagging along with your sister ... well do definitely go but take Mr. Boxer with you. I have tried to tell Blowfish what an high impact experience this was but he just cannot relate when I tell him, "it is hard to describe the effects: visual, physical, emotional, spiritual of walking through a miracle".

You know on the jet lag, it did not slam me until I was home 48 hours. When it did hit, I dropped like a stone in water. I am mostly back to normal now and have had some fine afternoon naps.

Chickory,
Yes indeed the construction logistics move Saint Aubert right up the charts! There are repairs in progress with plenty of scaffolding erected and even these current methods stagger the mind. These days a supply barge can be anchored out there. Back when Saint Michel was thumping bishops life was quite different. It IS a miracle. All of it.

It was a struggle to take pictures which were not chock full of strangers. Because I was there on the Feast of St. Michel
that rock was packed with tourists, school groups, pilgrims, historians, and the religious. I don't recall longing to be alone with the Mont but I did yearn to walk it's streets in the early morning light just as the birds were singing forth.

Have you considered adding a gargoyle to your new shed? Maybe it would keep predators away from the chickens!

Buzz Kill said...

I am amazed by architecture and construction as grand as this when you consider it was built about 1500 years ago with no machinery, only men, animals and ingenuity. And having to be wary of the tides so you don't get stranded just adds to the allure of this place. Very cool.

Aunty Belle said...

Hey Fishy--HAIKU theme announced on Front Porch--come play!

Boxer said...

what is the theme for next week, Dear fishy?