This is probably the most fascinating site I’ve found in France. I see this awesome site every year since 2010 to 2012 and it never fails to amuse me. It’s still 2013, and who knows I may still have a chance to visit this chapel within the year?
This is the Chapelle Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe (Chapel of Saint Michael of the Needle) which can be seen near Le Puy-en-Velay, France. This little pilgrimage chapel is built on top of a 279 ft. volcanic formation. Its construction dates back to 962 (yes, not 1962) or roughly 1,051 years ago. Historians claim that the pointed rock formation where the chapel was built has been a sacred place even before the chapel was built.
The chapel was said to be constructed upon the Bishop’s order to celebrate the return of Saint Michael from a walking pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostela. As I got more interested at this chapel, I began to read every available material and found out a different version which says that in the Winter of 951, Bishop Godescalc of the French village Le Puy-en-Velay returned from a walking pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James, located about 1000 miles away, across the Pyrenees, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. As a way of celebrating such feat, he ordered the construction of this small chapel on top of a towering volcanic plug in the center of the town.
Aiguilhe is not really in my itinerary, neither am I a walking pilgrim on my way to Santiago de Compostela. My destination was a small town called Saugues, which is also significant to the walking pilgrims because it is along the main route to Santiago de Compostela and many pilgrims stay there to retire for the night. I am going to write about the little town of Saugues soon.
The chapel can be reached by climbing the 268 stone stairs that wind up around the rock structure. This chapel is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, maybe because of his tendency to appear on mountain tops and other high places.