Michael Monasteries

Did I ever tell you about the Michael Line? There are five ancient monasteries dedicated to St Michael the Archangel spread across Europe. Starting from the East, Skellig Michael off the coast or Ireland, then St Michael’s Mount, off the coast of Cornwall in England. Then the greatest of them, Mont St Michel, off the coast of Normandy in France. Then in the Italian Alps, Sacra St Michele, then on the ‘heel of the boot’ in Italy, Monte Gargano, otherwise known as Monte Archangelo.

All five are in an exact geographical straight line, and if you extend the line eastward it goes through Athens to Jerusalem. I had the line checked by a satellite cartographer. Not only is the line straight, but it only varies over that vast distance by about 15 miles off the dot, and it allows for the curvature of the earth. Each of the monasteries is very ancient and all have legends of being founded and placed where they were because of visions of the Archangel Michael.

So what is one to make of such esoterica? Well, I’m intrigued by it. I realize that some people can go off the deep end and become so fascinated by odd things that they become odd themselves (or perhaps they were odd already and so became intrigued by odd things) The experts in medieval cartography say medieval people couldn’t have come up with such a thing. Others point out that Christian worship sites were often situated on the sites of former pagan sites and there are some churches in France on hilltops dedicated to ‘St Michel de Mercure’ thus linking St Michael with the winged pagan god Mercury.

For me it remains a mystery simply proving that there are more things in the world than our techno scientific brains have accounted for, and that medieval people (and ancient people too) were smarter than we give them credit for–they were just smarter about different stuff–and that I prefer that kind of smart to the techno science smart of our day.

But in saying that I’m not giving my iPhone to nobody…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    "I had the line checked by a satellite cartographer"Hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!My sides split with that line!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Umm. This one isn't satire. The satellite cartographer is a guy who makes maps and checks them with satellite technology…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17691145638703824456 kkollwitz

    I have the notion that at the Mont there's some architectural feature that aligns with where the sun rises on St Michael's feastday. I was there about 30 years ago, had looked around for something obvious, but couldn't guess at what it might've been.Probably helps to be there at dawn on St Michael's day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17691145638703824456 kkollwitz

    Speaking of Skellig, this may suit you:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zE3oAZnsuc"I joined the brotherhoodMy books were all to meI scribed the words of GodAnd much of historyMany a year was IPerched out upon the seaThe waves would wash my tears;The wind, my memory"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17434874596678354372 PiaPoi

    I visited Athens in the summer, and there is a small chapel on a prominent hilltop – also dedicated to St. Michael. I don't know its history, but the line runs through Athens and, well….. cool :P The Lord is so creatively awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    "Umm. This one isn't satire."Oops! Sorry Father.I thought you were avin a larf with that line!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14805035753704478361 Ms. Sarah

    One of these monastaries, Mont St. Michal in France was the location for the movie 'Mindwalk'. I'm a nerd-I loved the movie. It was however, so awful not even St. Michal could save it. It never made it to DVD

  • http://www.kennethmyers.net Kenneth Myers

    Come on, man, there HAS to be one in Greece that sits on the line! FIND IT!

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I’m told there is a small chapel dedicated to St Michael in Athens.

      • Cephas

        But these are all monasteries! All the more odd, or maybe we’re (/I’m) just not used to seeing monasteries very frequently. Would chapels to St. Michael be a sign of continuation of the line? Are these all (reliably) reported visions of St. Michael or are there more? in the world?

  • Ana

    Do you have an image of the line? would love to see it.

  • Elizabeth

    Does the “vertical stretch” of the map have to do with accounting for the curvature of the Earth?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      No–just the distortion of reproducing the map in this format

      • Chris

        If you click on the map you can see it with no stretch.

  • Curious

    Any chance of getting the cartographer to extend the line completely around the earth? I’m curious which countries, cities, and possibly later built churches it might pass through. Cool article. Thanks.