The Labyrinth and the Monolith
The labyrinth goes back 5,000 years or more. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Christianity adopted the labyrinth as a symbol, changing the design to imbue it with specifically Christian meaning. For almost a thousand years there has been an identifiable Christian labyrinth tradition. This movement reached its peak at Chartres Cathedral, in France, with the installation of an elegant labyrinth into the nave floor in 1201 during the construction of the magnificent new Gothic structure.
As a form of body prayer, the labyrinth embodies our experience, keeping it from being just theoretical or mental. Someone said that bodies can synthesize what the head can only distinguish. Saint Augustine is often quoted as having said, "It is solved by walking." Labyrinth walking has been called the laying on of feet.
In Chartres Cathedral, one of the greatest of all Gothic cathedrals, our spiritual journey is symbolized everywhere – in the sacred geometry, the art, the architecture, and the labyrinth. The church is the gateway, the connection between heaven and earth. In the same way, the labyrinth is the threshold between the physical world and the metaphysical, between the outer and the inner.
Pilgrimage is an outer journey with an inner purpose. It takes us away from the routine of daily life to sacred places where the veil seems thinner and spirituality more approachable. The labyrinth does this. It organizes our experience and engages us in spiritual travel. Some call it a quest. In the labyrinth we walk in a way we don't walk elsewhere, which leads to a new kind of experience.
The monolith rests at the center of St Peter’s labyrinth, making it very unique. The monolith is a symbol taken from a story in Genesis. Abraham and Sarah journeyed in stages and under the oak, built an altar to God. The labyrinth represents our journey with God and the stone represents that we build our altar to God at center of our pilgrimage. The monolith is also a very important symbol in Celtic Spirituality, where the standing stone represents the presence of God within the community.