April 07, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In the early planning stages, many congregations consider the potential for a labyrinth. Inevitably, the image of the iconic path in the Cathedral of Chartres in France is presented. We’ve designed a number of labyrinths as replicas for both interior and outdoor installations. The Chartres Labyrinth has come to epitomize the image of the sacred path, and is at the center of a renewed world-wide interest in walking the labyrinth for meditation and prayer.

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You could attribute many reasons this particular labyrinth has become so influential. The specific design, though deceptively simple, is actually highly complex. Associations with sacred geometry, ratios, and numbers are worked into the composition. A description from a hospital in New Zealand's website describes the importance of the Chartres Labyrinth in explaining their own replica. “The 11-circuit labyrinth has an asymmetrical, mathematically and visually complex pattern in which every quadrant is different. The path twists and turns so that you move towards the center and out again – as if towards and away from God.”

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The Chartres Labyrinth replica we designed for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in North Carolina.

Apparantly the builders planned the circumference to be the exact same size as the rose window in the towering gothic cathedral, a connection to the divine light that follows our human journey on earth. Walking this labyrinth was the culminating event in a multi-church pilgrimage dating from the 1200’s. Today’s pilgrims are drawn to the historic town and the church. But it is the experience of the sacred path that culminates the modern pilgrim’s experience, either in the Cathedral, or in the spirit of the cathedral walking one of thousands of replicas all over the world.

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The outdoor labyrinth we designed for the Diocese of Victoria’s Spiritual Renewal Center.

Sacred Architecture