Years of built up silt have taken away some of the powerful isolation of Mont Saint Michel. Located in Normandy, France, this island fortress abbey was once a remote stronghold of the Romans, Franks, and Normans. Today, arriving at Mont Saint Michel via the land causeway makes it seem just another medieval abbey on my tour of Normandy. The cars parked right up against the 11th century walls are a disappointing sight, and I trod the path to the monastery along with the rest of the crowds, half-heartedly. However, I am glad to say that the deep interiors of the abbey granted me the quiet reflection I desired, and at last my vision of what this place once was was realized. Romanesque architecture is captured here at its solemn and simple best. Massive columns support thick walls with narrow slotted windows, making for large halls that appear foreboding and gloomy. However, it’s on Mont Saint Michel’s northern side that I understand how St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, and William the Conqueror must have felt when they set eyes for the first time upon this citadel upon the rock. Though the waters are shallow, this tiny rock island fortress still broods in the middle of a vast bay. To attempt building on such a scale must have seemed like a task for the insane. No wonder legend states that St. Aubert refused to heed the archangel Michael’s call to build a church here until a hole was burnt into his skull (thereby leaving the unfortunate bishop with no options). Glancing at the enormity of the monastery and its position as a tidal island, I am awestruck by man’s skill as well as the grandiosity of the place.