Le Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island and mainland commune in Normandy, France that lies approximately one kilometer (0.6 miles) off the country’s north-western coast.

According to the legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Bishop Aubert of Avranches, and instructed him to build an oratory (church) on the rocky islet.

The legend is that Aubert did not pay attention to this vison at first. The archangel Michael appeared a second time, but still Aubert hesitated, lest this be a demonic manifestation. At last, in exasperation Michael appeared to him a thrid time, poking him in his head and ordering him to complete the task. Where the archangel touched him, Aubert was left with a hole in his skull. After this third appearance, the oratory was built. It was dedicated on 16 October 709.

The relic of Aubert’s skull, complete with hole where the archangel’s finger pierced it, can still be seen at the Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches. Skeptics suggest that the skull is in fact a prehistoric relic showing evidence of trepanation, a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull.

In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the archangel Michael is often considered the chief of the angels and archangels.

The bishop Aubert of Avranches, also known as Saint Aubert, lived in France during the reign of Childebert II (695-711) and died about 720. He was born of a noble family and was known for his wisdom and piety.

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