Mont Saint Michel: Big Birthday

Mont Saint Michel: Big Birthday

The abbey of Mont Saint Michel, perched on its rocky tidal island off the coast of Normandy and Brittany, is celebrating its 1,300th birthday this year with an 18-month party that will last until September 2009. Legend has it that Saint Michael the Archangel appeared to Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, in a dream, leading Aubert to build a sanctuary on the island in the saint’s name. Work on the first church started in the year 708, and it was consecrated in 709. The magnificent Gothic abbey that now dominates the site, built between the 11th and 16th centuries, will be the center of the birthday celebrations this month, starting June 2 with a concert of Monteverdi’s sacred music by Les Arts Florissants and a major photographic exhibit dedicated to ten of the world’s most sacred sites (on until Nov 11). Festivities continue with concerts, conferences and exhibits including a scientific show documenting the environmental evolution of the island over the past 1,300 years.

Originally published in the June 2008 issue of France Today.

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