The outdoor Christian Prayer Labyrinth at Terra Sancta Retreat Center is designed according to the Chartres style Church Labyrinth which pilgrims still walk today.
The Christian Prayer Labyrinth, an ancient symbol for spiritual wholeness, is often called the “pathway to our heart”. It combines the imagery of a circle and a spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It is a metaphor for life as we journey in, around, and along the path sometimes closer to the center and sometimes farther away but always arriving at the center, our heart-center of wholeness and union with God, our Father. It symbolizes the natural rhythm of life and journeying including joy and celebration, pain and suffering and the desire and longing of our soul for union with the Trinity. The labyrinth is a place of prayer and meditation, a place of silence where one can focus on “being” rather than “doing”. It’s a place for practicing sacred presence in the present!
Stand by the road and look, and ask for the ancient path which is the way to good. Walk on it and find rest for your soul. Jeremiah 6:16.
The earliest known Christian Prayer Labyrinth was laid down in a basilica in Algeria in the fourth century. Early Christians often made pilgrimage to the Holy Land as a sign of their deep Christian commitment. In the Middle Ages when it became too dangerous and costly to pilgrimage to Jerusalem, seven Cathedrals in Europe were designated as the pilgrim’s destination instead. As Christians entered into these Cathedrals, their final journey was walking the labyrinth placed on stone in the nave of the Cathedral. The Chartres Cathedral in France, built around 1201 A.D. and exits yet today, was one of those Cathedrals. During this time, nearly every Gothic Cathedral in Europe had a Prayer Labyrinth symbolizing life’s journey by walking to and along with their loving God. The Labyrinth, an archetype for our inner spiritual desire and quest for our loving and forgiving God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reflects St. Augustine’s words, “You (God) have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.”