Winter 2003
Volume 7 Number 2

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The Class of 2002 Gives Labyrinth to the Seminary

The ancient Greeks and Romans named buildings that were completely or partially submerged underground labyrinths. These buildings contained numerous chambers and passages that were difficult to exit.

Labyrinths were designed on French cathedral floors during the Middle Ages, most notably Chartres, with names of the architects embedded in the designs.

Princeton Theological Seminary has a new labyrinth to add to this list. The canvas 24-foot, seven-circuit labyrinth was given to the Seminary as a gift by the Class of 2002, so that faculty, staff, students, visitors, and alumni/ae could use it to enhance their walk with God.

Carrie Mitchell, coordinator of the 2002 graduating committee, explains the reason they chose the labyrinth as their gift. “Given the suffering of September 11 and the current quest for spirituality,” she says, “the Class of 2002 ambitiously agreed on a classic Chartres labyrinth. Many generous classmates rose to the challenge of providing the labyrinth’s meditative space for years to come.”

Named after the labyrinth that lies on the floor of Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France, the Chartres-style labyrinth lets the walker roam several times through each of the four quadrants before reaching its core. A rosette design, which has a rich symbolic value including enlightenment, sits in the center. The four arms of the cross are visible and provide important Christian symbolism.

Nancy Schongalla-Bowman, director of student counseling, says that faith is not “one size fits all.” “Walking a labyrinth is profoundly moving for some, and nothing more than an interesting experience for others. For some people, being still to pray is difficult, but walking while praying opens them up and focuses their minds,” she says.

The labyrinth was made by Veriditas: The Worldwide Labyrinth Project based at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. PTS alumna Lauren Artress serves as a canon at Grace Cathedral and founded Veriditas.

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last updated 01/12/04