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Conseil de l´Europe

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage

Besides the great people of the world who came to the Mont to seek the protection of the archangel, in the 14th and 15th centuries there were very many groups of children from France, Flanders, Germany and Switzerland.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mont-Saint-michel was more modestly prosperous. Pilgrims, although fewer in number, formed Pilgrim Fraternities of Saint michael and came is small groups to the famous site. The french revolution marked the end of pilgrimages to the abbey, whinch was used as a prison (from 1793 to 1863).
At the end of the 19th century, the Abbey was restored and was recognised as an Historical Monument, and worship and pilgrimages inspired by Saint Michael began again. The Archangel’s dwelling has become a major tourist attraction and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Arriving for the most part on foot, the “walkers of faith” created a network of pathways converging on Mont-Saint-Michel, linking the great pilgrim sites of Christianity.
Staff in hand, clad in a large cape and a hat to shelter them from inclement weather, pilgrims recognised each other by the cockle shell, the emblem of the Galician pilgrim site.
Alone or in groups, pilgrims received hospitality from religious establishment lining the routes (hospitals abbeys, priories etc).
After crossing the perilous shore, they climbed the hill, lined with inns and shops, up to the doors of the Abbey. Then, when their devotions were finished, they left again, having bought rosaries, ribbons and badges, souvenir of their successful pilgrimage, at the village stalls.
Religious fraternities began in the Middle Ages, and were very numerous in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were professional or parish associations under the protection of Saint michael.
The constitutions made provision for giving aid to members before their departure to the Mont, or after their return

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