Labyrinth

The Meaning of a Labyrinth in Christianity

Since ancient times the labyrinth has been recognized as a sacred symbol for life or heroic journeys. In Christianity, the labyrinths symbolic meaning 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 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.

Is the Labyrinth in the Bible?

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:

  • I am the way, the truth and the life - John 14:16.
  • Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” - Isaiah 30:21
  • You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Psalms 16:10.
  • In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. - Proverbs 16:9
  • For we walk by faith, not by sight. - Corinthians 5:7

History of Christian Labyrinth’s

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.

Drawing of the First Christian Labyrinth

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.

The Chartres Labyrinth

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.

Walking the Christian Labyrinth

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. Here are some simple steps you can take to walk or pray the labyrinth:

  • Stepping into the labyrinth move towards the center while clearing your mind, opening your heart, and bringing your focus to God's presence. Let go of Earthly attachments here and contemplate your prayers or questions with God while you meander through the path.
  • Upon reaching the center of the labyrinth, you come to a place of peace within, reflect in these moments on your relationship with God and the insight you have just received. 
  • When the time arises to return, walk with Jesus out of the path and into the present with a renewed sense of self and purpose to share with the world.

Walking the Chartres Labyrinth circa 1750
Walking the Chartres Labyrinth circa 1750 AD

 



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