Monks came to this tidal island seeking a retreat from the world; they built a church on the very pinnacle of the island on a foundation of vaults. It soon became a site for pilgrimage. The church is dedicated to Michael the Archangel, who in Catholic tradition defeated the dragon (representing Satan and evil) and weighs the souls of the departed. As a fighting angel, he was the Catholic’s primary symbol of the counter-reformation.
The monks built a wall around the whole island, and the island was one of the few areas which the English were unable to conquer during the Hundred Years’ War.
Today, Mont Saint Michel is a national monument of France and one of the most visited sites in France. Many of the buildings now house restaurants and shops that cater to tourists. A causeway was built to ensure access to it and as a result of silt buildup, it is no longer an island. Efforts to replace part of the causeway with a bridge (and thus slowly return it to being an island) have stalled.