Saint Aubert, the Bishop of Avranches in France, founded Mont Saint Michel in 708 after St. Michael the Archangel appeared to him in his dreams three times. Saint Aubert ignored the Archangel in the first two dreams, but in the third dream St. Michael drove his finger into Aubert’s skull and commanded him to build the church in his honor at Mont Tombe. It was after this third and final vision that he decided to start building the sanctuary! St. Aubert’s relic skull, together with a hole where the archangel’s finger punctured it, can still be viewed at the Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches.
The sanctuary was finished and dedicated as Mont Saint Michel on October 16, 709 A.D. The Feast of St. Michael on October 16th commemorates the apparitions of St. Michael to Bishop Aubert and for centuries this place has been the site of numerous healings, deliverances, and pilgrimages for peasants and kings alike.
Among the immediate miracles on October 16, 709 A.D. was the healing of a woman who was blind all her life. In another, on the day of dedication, St. Michael indicated to St. Aubert where to strike a rock on the island to obtain fresh water for the entire island. In 714 A.D., St. Michael again appeared to St Aubert before letting him know that in three days he would join his parents in heaven.
St. Michael’s intercession and protection at Mont Saint Michel spread across Europe like wildfire.
Charlemagne, who became King of the Franks in 768 A.D., King of the Lambards in 774 A.D., and the first holy Roman Emperor in 800 A.D. of all of the Western Europe, was also the protector of the papacy against the Moors and Saxons. Charlemagne made a pilgrimage with his army to Mont Saint Michel, and he chose St. Michael as protector of his empire. He consecrated himself and his entire kingdom to St. Michael at this holy sanctuary. Charlemagne so venerated St. Michael for his intercession in battle that he worked with Pope Hadrian (772-795) to unify the Roman liturgy with the Gauls, and on the Feast of St. Michael (October 16th), Charlemagne with the help of Pope Hadrian composed the following mass preface,
“It is proper…that on this day we proclaim the merits of St. Michael the Archangel. For however much we are to venerate all the angels who stand in the presence of your Majesty, it is proper that in this celestial order the warrior angel deserves the first rank.”
He also helped compose, under the Pope’s guidance, a “Sequentia de Sancto Michaeli” which said that St. Michael was the commander of the heavenly hosts, intercessor before God, and vanquisher of the dragon at the end of time. He ordered an image of St. Michael with the title “Patron and Prince of the Empire of the Gaul’s,” and he forbade the veneration of unknown angels in all of his Christian kingdom.
Charlemagne gave St. Michael total primacy through this shrine and feast of October 16th over the cultural, social, and imperial ambitions of his Christian kingdom. The kings that followed Charlemagne, up until Charles XI, all made pilgrimages to Mont Saint Michel on October 16th asking that St. Michael keep all great evil in check during this era of holy Christian kings and queens.
Miracles at Mont Saint Michel have continued through the centuries. ln 1423 during an English invasion, St Michael himself intervened with a miraculous storm crashing all the ships of the enemy against the rocks. The battle between St. Michael and the dragon continues today. The dragon tempts us in our pride and ego to be the god of our own lives, saying in effect,
“I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the far reaches of the north. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like theIs. 14:12-14
St. Michael the Archangel defends every human soul from the temptation to be our own savior, by crying out against the dragon in our defense,
“Who is like the Lord, Our God, who has risen on high to His throne yet stoops from the heights to look down, to look down upon heaven and earth?”Ps. 113:5-6
This coming October 16, 2018, on this feast that once ruled over the empire of a King, celebrate and commemorate the apparitions of St. Michael to St. Aubert by attending or offering a special mass in his honor. Be like King Charlemagne who invoked St. Michael to permeate every aspect of his life and kingdom. Through our own devotion and consecration, may we collaborate with St. Michael to take back our Church, our country, state, city, and even our very homes from the one who prowls around the world seeking the ruin of souls. Saint Michael the Archangel Ora Pro Nobis!
Special Mass on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel of Mont Saint Michel on Tuesday, October 16th at 12 noon at Saint Mary Cathedral, Austin Texas