The labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral – photo from Gordon Hudson, New Jersey, US
There has been a church on the site of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, in the town of Chartres, Eure-et-Loir department of Centre, since the 4th Century.
The current building dates back to 1145 but was partially reconstructed over a 26-year period after a fire in 1194. Chartres Cathedral is a stunning example of French Gothic art with its vast nave, huge porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, magnificent 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows, and its famous labyrinth.
The Chartres Cathedral is immensely popular with visitors not only for its sheer beauty and the fact that it is incredibly well preserved but also as a place of pilgrimage. Many people visit to appreciate a famous relic known as the Sancta Camisa which is said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth.
The beautifully preserved labyrinth in the central nave is also a big draw and is one of the best known of its type. Constructed in the 13th Century it fills the width of the nave at 12.9 metres (42.3 ft) and is the subject of much mystery and surmise. Popular opinion is that the labyrinth represents the long and tortuous path that pilgrims would have needed to follow to reach the Cathedral of Chartres.
If you visit Chartres Cathedral on a Friday in the summer you’ll see this magnificent limestone labyrinth masterpiece in all its glory, the rest of the time it’s covered by chairs as this is a working church.
Gordon’s photo shows visitors walking the 261m of path of the labyrinth and his wife Rene standing in the centre – I particularly love how the photo captures the movement of visitors walking the circles of the labyrinth. Rene and Gordon were in France as part of a sabbatical in which Rene “walked labyrinths as a spiritual practice” and says ” We fell in love with Chartres and have returned again since then”.
Find out more on the Chartres Cathedral website.
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