by Sister Spero
Mont Saint-Michel, the island fortress off the coast of France, was named for Saint Michael, whose feast day is September 29th. The story is told that in 708, Bishop Aubert had a vision that the Archangel Michael appeared before him, ordering him to build a place of prayer on the island that was then known as “Mont Tombe.” Bishop Aubert ignored the command, so Michael appeared again, and then a third time, driving his finger into Aubert’s skull to make his point. Aubert finally listened, and the oratory was built in 709. Three hundred years later, the oratory had evolved into a Benedictine monastery housing hundreds of monks, a place of considerable prayer.
Saint Michael is often painted with a sword as the leader of God’s army. In the Book of Revelation, when war breaks out in heaven, Michael and his angels fight with the dragon (Satan). His message is spiritual warfare.
The monks left Mont Saint-Michel, and the French government took over the abbey during the French Revolution, and the island today is filled with sightseers. But there are a few monastics who are still responding to Bishop Aubert’s vision. Amidst the tourists, a small group of Friars and Sisters of the Fraternity of Jerusalem offer their daily prayers, and their warfare, on the top of Mont Saint-Michel. I suspect Saint Michael is very pleased.