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
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.