Why would a medieval church put a labyrinth – an ornate maze – on the floor?
Labyrinths can be found on the floors (and sometimes walls) of many medieval churches and cathedrals, the most famous being the one found in the cathedral at Chartres, France. It is widely believed that these labyrinths provided an alternative to the physical pilgrimage to Jerusalem for those who could not travel the long and often dangerous journey. The twists and turns of these often large labyrinths represented the pathway through life in search of the Heavenly Kingdom, offering the pilgrim time to meditate on their life and perform acts of penance through prayer. The labyrinths also offered the pilgrim a focal point; a centre and final destination, often named Jerusalem or ciel (sky/heaven).
Much to my joy, I discovered that a medieval labyrinth can be seen in a town not too far from Clonmel. Saint Patrick’s Cross on the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, a high cross dating from…
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