Sacred Sites Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe, amazing chapel perched on a volcanic plug

This picturesque 12th Century chapel is 85 metres high, situated on the very top of a volcanic plug.

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Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe play

Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe

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The dainty chapel is perched dramatically on a a rocky needle (aiguilhe) in in Aiguilhe, near Le Puy-en-Velay, France.

The chapel, overlooking the town play

The chapel, overlooking the town

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The chapel itself was built in 962, but the rock itself has been a sacred location for thousands of years. The Romans first dedicated the site to the worship of Mercury, the messenger god with winged feet known as Hermes in Greek mythology.

Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel play

Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel

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Later, Christians built a chapel dedicated to St. Michael at the site. The Bishop of Puy built the chapel in honour and in celebration of Saint Michael's return from pilgrimage. 

To get to the chapel, a visitor will climb the 268 steps carved into the rock to reach the peak where the chapel is situated.

Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe steps play

Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe steps

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The steps are however wide and comfortable, with places to stop for rest on the way up.

The chapel and the rock are consecrated to Saint Michael, the patron saint of high places in Europe.

The chapel attracted many pilgrims and and in 1429, Joan of Arc's mother, Isabelle Romée, reportedly visited the site to pray.

In 1955, archaeologists discovered a stash of sacred objects in the altar, these items are now displayed behind iron bars.

St. Michel d'Aiguilhe facade play

St. Michel d'Aiguilhe facade

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The beautiful facade of the cathedral has aches and multicoloured stonewalls that reveal Islamic influences.

The stonework in the chapel also illustrates themes from the Bible. There are images depicting Christ holding the book of life, the Virgin Mary, Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Michael.

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