Since ancient times the labyrinth has been recognized as a sacred symbol for life or heroic journeys. In Christianity, the labyrinths symbolic message is that life's journey is challenging, filled with highs and lows, ups and downs and when one feels lost along their path, God’s salvation is at the end of the journey and at the center of life.
There are more than 5,000 labyrinths currently around the world. You may find them in outdoor spaces like parks, churches, sanctuaries for healing and hospital gardens. Two of the most famous indoor labyrinths were built directly into the cathedral's floor, read on to learn more about Christian labyrinths.
The Bible does not mention a labyrinth specifically within its pages. A labyrinth is a man-made creation to contemplate spiritual concerns and become closer to God.
There are several verses in the Bible that relate to the purpose of a Christian labyrinth. In these verses, God explains to us that He is the way, the path, to salvation, such as:
The first Christian labyrinth was placed on the floor in the St. Basilica of Reparatus in Algeria around 324 AD. The square design features a palindrome of text at its center that reads “Sancta Eclesia” meaning “Holy Church”. If this phrase is read forwards or backwards, vertically or horizontal, it always reads the same way, giving hope that the church is always there to the wanderer of the labyrinth's path.
The French Chartres Cathedral constructed a labyrinth around the year 1230 AD. The Chartres labyrinth is made to walk within a single path which leads in and out featuring 11 circuits counted from the outside to the center. A 6-petal rosette at its center represents the six different kingdoms; mineral, plant, animal, human, angelic, and the divine. The rosette is also known to represent the flowering and healing union of masculine and feminine energies.
Unlike a maze that features dead ends, a labyrinth is “unicursal” with only one path that twists and turns but eventually leads to the center.
In the medieval ages’ monks wandered their monasteries labyrinth paths in quiet contemplation with God. As a walk-through symbol the labyrinth is a creative space that represents the many challenges of life.
The process of walking a labyrinth continues to gain popularity among Christians around the world. Find a labyrinth to visit and walk nearby with the Labyrinth Locator.
Here are some simple steps you can take to walk or pray the labyrinth:
Walking the Chartres Labyrinth circa 1750 AD
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