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Mount St. Michel – a ‘reversed pilgrimage’

There are many places in Europe famous for its pilgrimages, for instance, Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I had myself also the chance to visit one of them, Mount St. Michel, one of the western wonders built-in 709. A place in Normandie was almost one thousand years, people of all genders and age walked the “paths to paradise”, longing for the eternity to be assured by the archangel of judgment.  

A background

The chapel named after the Archangel Michel, who is the chief of the celestial militia soon saw a community of Benedictines settled on the rock. As my second trip since my arrival in Rennes, I could not miss the opportunity to check it out. I must confess that since checking the weather forecast, I had to psych myself before putting on shirts for the ‘pilgrimage’. Our teachers gathered the 3 French groups together for the tour.

Although we took a bus there, we had to stop 40 minutes before reaching the mount as it was not allowed to drive close to the bay. Once we arrived at the tourist office, we queued to get a free of charge local tram. Having reached the mount, its magic was obvious. Only by overlooking it from the distance was enough to explain why so many people would have come from all over the globe. It is just so hard to tell what is prettier, the amount of land in its surroundings or the tower itself. Perhaps it is the combination of both what leaves us breath-taking at first sight.


Climbing the Mount Michel

Surprisingly for us, the mount Mitchel, which was once a small church, is nowadays a little village. There we were given a map that contained the names of the street, the chapel and post office, hotels, etc. Of course, in the olden days, the mount had different purposes, even had been turned into a prison during the days of the French Revolution.

As grown-up students, we were set free to go around before our meeting point at 1.30 pm. Once there, we obviously had to climb; the higher we got, the prettier the view became. We had again a picnic when we reached the top and as we had plenty of time, we went out to explore it. The little chapel was a provoking place for us, adults originated from different religious backgrounds.


The reversed Pilgrimage begins!

Gathering all together for what I called “reversed pilgrimage”, as the tide was low, we walked through “the sea” as the worshipers used to do in the past. As we stepped into the mud, our feet got all black. We hoped for that clay to make a cleansing job in our skin. Anyway, it felt good that nature contact. Sometimes, we had to cross river streams and the cold water could easily reach out our thighs. Our tour guides stopped from time to time to tell some stories related to the mount, though we were interested in was taking as many pictures as possible.


The island we were walking toward seemed to be very closed to us, but after walking for more than one hour, we realized that the “paths to paradise” is never that short. The thought of having still the way back left us even more tired and slower. Our tour guide introduced us to the “quicksand” for what we used some music. Turning on the sound system, we all learn that to not sink into it, the best way was to dance. For me, it looked like the “dance pray for the rain”, that the natives used to do among its rituals. Howsoever, it was great fun.

A life learning experience

The wonderful thing about the pilgrimage was that even though we were not there in the search for salvation, we all had the chance to get to know each other better, as we did not stick to one single person or group till the end, we all mingled. Furthermore, when we had to cross the streams, we held our friend’s hands to avoid falling into the water. As an analogy for us university students, maybe that it is what we will have to do during our studies, holding each other hands, so in the end, we all can reach success.

I am Patricia, 28 years old. A Journalist doing a master in International Management at IGR-IAE, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France @paty.costa.freire

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