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Chartres Cathedral: The Labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral – France

As one gazes upon the beauty of the gothic styled Chartres Cathedral, built in 12th century France.  One asks what mysteries, what holy designs, will one find?

Located within, upon the stone floor, is an ancient styled Labyrinth, which would have been used by monks for contemplation.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral – Labyrinth

So what is a Labyrinth?

A Labyrinth is a path representing our spiritual journey, with many a twist or a turn, and the walker would find themselves, uncertain where the path was taking them, yet they were never lost.

The Labyrinth has the hand of God, gently guiding us, even though we feel lost or confused, we are being led forward.

As one walks the path to the centre, one walks the way of the world, asking as we walk step by step for God’s forgiveness, for our wrongdoings, and seeking to make amends for our acts.

Upon reaching the centre, it is for us to open ourselves to the love of God, before taking the path back, seeking to follow in the ways of Christ.

The walk of the Labyrinth, gives the walker a chance to seek out how to resolve problems in their lives.  Seeking guidance, times of personal bereavement, or just to walk hand in hand with God.

In its simplest form, a Labyrinth is a path of medication.  You just simply walk it, and allow the mind to be at peace, as the body takes over.

One could describe the Labyrinth, as having three paths:

  • Symbolic path of purgation.
  • Illumination, opening ourselves to the Divine in the centre.
  • Union, is our return path taking the benefits of what we have received, back into our lives.

During the time of the Crusades, Labyrinths were built to provide an alternative, as not everyone could make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The centre of the Labyrinth represented the Holy City of Jerusalem, and became the substituted goal of the journey, for pilgrims.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth:

The Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, measures forty-two feet in diameter and was built between (1215-1235).  13th century churchmen instructed builders of Chartres, that numbers and symbols were to be used in its design.  The significance of which is drawn from Ancient Greek thoughts; Plato and St.Augustine reflections on the divine order of creation.

The path is laid out in eleven concentric circles intricately woven into a sacred geometric pattern.  It is then surrounded by twenty-eight semi-circular lunations per quadrant, creating a third of the year’s lunar calendar around the Labyrinth’s perimeter.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth 1

Labyrinth Design

Wikipedia Images

4 thoughts on “Chartres Cathedral: The Labyrinth

  1. Hello CH
    I have made a discovery in the labyrinth which I think may be important. As an engineer I have examined its construction and found not I regret the Holy Grail or the Ark but what I think is actually a lasting memorial to the Knights Templar. Looking at the ‘curved pathway sections’ and how they are spread out across the 4 quadrants of the labyrinth they follow a particular numerical pattern to the centre 1122112121211212121121212112211=31 I then projected these numbers according to their values into simple vertical block formations which when reconfigured produced a square castellated enclosure with a large gate. The 3 groups of 21212.could be seen as individual panels may have been a dedication to the 9 founder members of the order. At each end of the line the numbers are numerically the same that converge to form a stunning towered type gate. This fortified enclosure could be a small symbolic Jerusalem image fittingly named for the labyrinth that was produced in the past as a safe walking alternative for pilgrims who wanted to go to the Holy Land.

    Many best wishes – Terry


    • Interesting – Thanks. Chartres Cathedral is a fine looking building for its age, with many hidden secrets yet to be revealed. The Knights Templar used numerical systems in one form or another as they have in Rosslyn Chapel. in Scotland. It would be nice if they had left us the answer too enable us to decipher there meanings.


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