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Devil & Nun, Chartres Cathedral

Devil & Nun, Chartres Cathedral

Freemasonry’s “Lost Secret” Found—Encoded In Gothic Cathedral Architecture

Though Christian buildings by purpose, Europe’s Gothic cathedrals contain an ancient Pagan wisdom hidden in their architecture. This wisdom, which predates Christianity, was placed by the operative Freemasons, builders commissioned by the Church to create cathedrals, churches, and other edifices. For centuries the Masonic heresy went unrecognized, but the Church eventually outlawed the Freemasons and called for their immediate destruction once the heresy was discovered. Their structures live on, however, and in this article we’ll see how Freemasonry’s “lost secret” can be found encoded in the stone architecture of Gothic cathedrals.

Above: The Burgos Cathedral is a Gothic-style cathedral in Burgos, Spain. Begun in 1221, it is famous for its vast size and unique architecture. Do ancient secrets lay hidden here?

Rumors have for centuries swirled that the Freemasons are in possession of a “great secret.”

“It is always understood that the Freemasons have a secret which they carefully conceal…”

—Thomas Paine, The Origins of Freemasonry, 1818

This secret is said to be an ancient Pagan wisdom-teaching, a highly advanced and life-changing “Sacred Science” they inherited from Antiquity. In Tolstoy’s War & Peace, a Freemason says:

The first and chief object of our Order, the foundation on which it rests…is the preservation and handing on to posterity of a certain important mystery… which has come down to us from the remotest ages, even from the first man – a mystery on which perhaps the fate of mankind depends.”

—Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace, 1869

Many say the medieval Freemasons encoded their secret into the art and architecture of the churches, castles, and cathedrals they constructed, without the Church’s knowledge.

“It is generally believed in occult circles that… medieval masons had inherited esoteric knowledge… and that this knowledge was incorporated into the sacred architecture of the cathedrals.”

—Michael Howard

If indeed the Masons inherited an ancient Pagan doctrine, and if they encoded its wisdom into cathedral architecture, it amounts to heresy, and would constitute a direct threat to the Church. space

Portal to Heaven

Editor’s note: This is the ninth post in our newest series, Beholding True Beauty, which consists of prayerful reflections on works of sacred art. The series will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month of October. Read the whole series here .

“The architect put sculptures of judgment, demons, and damnation … that way the pilgrims would be terrified and put more money in the collection plate.”

This was my architecture history professor’s summation of the portals of high gothic cathedrals. Those sculptures of Christian imagination were nothing more than morose shakedowns of pious grandmothers walking on their knees.

Otto Von Simpson—an astute architectural historian—described Chartres Cathedral, Notre-Dame de Chartres , as an economic effort unrivaled by any contemporary undertaking. The material sacrifice of the people of Chartres serves as a “crude yardstick” that can measure the spiritual importance of the cosmos in stone. Henry Adams, grandson and great-grandson of the American presidents, stated, “Half the interest of architecture consists in the sincerity of its reflection of the society that builds.” Rather than reflecting a French Halloween House of Horror that mugs mémé for a few extra livres , The Last Judgment over the southern doors of Chartres reflects a society of towering aspirations. Higher than the two towers of its west facade, the aspirations of the anonymous architects, masons, and benefactors soared toward their goal: to be a saint and enter heaven.

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

The southern porch of Chartres projects off the main body of the Church, creating a safe haven from the sun, rain, and wind. The porch is a refuge for tired pilgrims wishing to pray in thanksgiving for having arrived to their destination. This cathedral dedicated to Our Lady receives and protects pilgrims like the Blessed Mother safeguards sinners. She is the refugium peccatorum .

The ancient steps, worn and laden with the feet of millions of pilgrims, rises from the profane square toward the sacred interior. The portal summons the visitor to ascend, approach, and enter the way to eternal life. The whirling bands of archivolts pivot on the central tympanum as they step inward toward the doors, pulling the visitor with them. The tympanum is Christ seated in majesty, judging the living and the dead, who are rising from their graves throughout the piece. Christ anchors the orbit of the twirling clouds—hosts of angels crying out “Glory to God in the highest.”

The lintel underneath his feet shows the judgment that must take place before one enters into heaven. The blessed move to his right and the damned move to his left. The unhappy souls, having refused Christ’s mercy in life, march toward the ravenous, serrated jowls of hell. Ghoulish demons strip their trembling, naked victims of worldly vestiges of honor. Robes, collars, and crowns do not save one from eternal punishment. All men and women must question their life and the state of their souls as they approach the entrance to the cathedral.

The archivolts to the right, Christ’s left in the scene, show the dead rising from their graves, and the damned with their own special demon. The beasts carry their prey over their shoulder like hunted game slain in the forest. The frightful figure on the far right wags his furry tail, and his belly smiles as it contemplates its eternal meal. Yet, this scene, which is no laughing matter, possesses a sense of joy and levity imbued throughout the architecture.

Terror does not have the last word in the composition. In truth, it encompasses less than a fifth of the scene. The just appear on the left, the right of Christ enthroned. The dead rise from their graves in praise and thanksgiving. The happy souls walk with the benevolent angels, and there is even the Bosom of Abraham ( Lk 16:22–23 ), the ancient depiction of the righteous blissful rest. The faithful rest in the arms of the father of faith, Abraham. This scene continues above as the angelic choirs circle the scene in splendor and glory. One who looks up sees not just punishment and gloom, but the splendor of the saints.

Centered between the doors, supporting the celestial scene above, is the trumeau with its figure, Christ Beau Dieu (handsome God). A court of saints, the apostles, flank him. Each jamb figure participates in Christ’s foundational role as they support the archivolts above. Their architectural mirroring of Christ strengthens their cruciform mirroring of his life. They each hold the instruments of their own passions, reflecting Christ’s own passion.

Walking up to the Beau Dieu , one sees him standing upon the lion and dragon ( Ps 91:13 ). The lion, according to St. Augustine, represents the devil’s raging persecutions, and the dragon represents his slithering lies of heresies. Artfully, the portal to the left of this central portal is that of the martyrs, champions like Christ over the lion. To the right is the portal of confessors, witnesses to the truth, and St. Nicholas, a saint who slapped the arch-heretic Arius, the dragon.

Those are portals worth a visit in their own right, but here the central figure grabs our attention. Christ, the handsome God, holds with one hand Scripture while he blesses with his other (a detail eroded away). Yet, despite the wages of time, the work communicates the beauty of God who welcomes the weak and weary into his Church. Before the door opens, the viewer beholds the one who stands at the door and knocks ( Rv 3:20 ). The last view of this portal is not the terrible, but the beautiful.

Passing through the portal, the pilgrim is transported to a new world and witnesses the artistic expression of heaven upon earth. This artistic expression, according to Adams , is “a child’s fancy a toyhouse to please the Queen of Heaven” meant to make her smile. No, it’s not terror that causes the pilgrim to give, it’s gratitude for being welcomed to the halls of the saints.

The Lady of Akita Wept, Perspired, or Bled 101 Times!

In addition to the bleeding palms, the statue was seen perspiring a sweet perfume and weeping several times, some of which were caught on film by local news reporters. All told, the statue wept, perspired, or bled 101 times.

The number is believed to be significant: the first 1 represents the sin a woman brought into the world (Eve biting the apple) the second 1 represents the salvation another woman brought into the world (Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ ) the 0 in between represents the eternity of the Holy Spirit.

Non-Catholic specialists examined the fluids of the statue and found them to be human fluids. Initially, the Archbishop of Tokyo dismissed the miraculous claims without even visiting Akita. However, Bishop Ito, who had witnessed the miracles, pushed for the Roman officials to establish a commission. While the Holy See has never officially confirmed the legend of Our Lady of Akita, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) approved of the veracity of the messages from the Virgin Mary that came to the people of Akita.

Top image: Our Lady of Akita, Japan. Photo Source: ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Rose Window

All Gothic cathedrals have rose windows, which find their origin in the Roman oculus. Oculus, the Latin word for eye, is still used to refer to other round windows, openings, and skylights in other edifices.

The truly astounding part of this, however, is how similar the Gothic Rose Window is to the single Eyeball. The central pupil, iris, the rings, etc. and so forth are strikingly parallel: the rose window is in and of itself a symbol for the eye.

“It is when the sun, already sinking in the west, looks the cathedral almost full in the face. Its rays, becoming more and more horizontal…while the great central rose window glares like the eye of a Cyclops…”

—Victor Hugo

This rose window sits perfectly in the center between the twin towers, or the pairs of opposites, just as your soul sits perfectly in the center between the twin sides of your dual body (your right or “sun” half and left or “moon” half): this immediately recalls the metaphor of the Third Eye described above, inside the duality of male and female. Prince Charles, speaking of Chartres’ design, describes it thusly:

“The entrance into the building is through the West front, which comprises two soaring towers, one with the symbol of the Moon upon it and one, a significant number of feet taller, bearing the symbol of the Sun… And beneath them sits one of the most spectacular of all rose windows, symbolizing the uniting of the apparent duality represented by the symbols of the Sun and the Moon. This unifying process is even built into the way the pilgrim was expected to journey around the cathedral.”

—Prince Charles, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World.

The concept of the union of opposites and the number three is also prevalent in small architectural details:

Left: Trefoil in Gothic architecture. Right: Long predating the Gothic cathedrals, an Ancient Priest-king from Mohenjodaro wears trefoil and a circular amulet on his forehead depicting the Third Eye.

In architecture, a trefoil is an ornamental foliation consisting of three divisions, used in Gothic architecture to represent the form of a three-lobed leaf.

Returning to the Rose Window, we can see that no matter how simple or flamboyant the window, it is always depicted as circular. The circle is a perfect form, and is thus a symbol of eternity as well as a symbol of the eternal “soul within” or “god within” each of us.

Yet another way to look at the rose window is as a Buddhist symbol, similar to the Eastern “Wheel of Dharma” or “Wheel of Law,” a symbol denoting the Buddhist path to enlightenment.

Associated with this concept is the medieval idea of the Wheel of Fortune, or Rota Fortunae, which refers to the capricious nature of Fate. The goddess Fortuna spins the wheel at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel some suffer while others gain, and Fortuna is always a woman, sometimes blindfolded, spinning the wheel.

Fortuna sits at the center of her Wheel, observing the rotation of four figures on its rim: above her, below her, to her left and to her right.

Countless writers have also described the entire Rose Window concept as a sacred mandala, leading one to their very center of all Being, which is their own inner being the center of their own eternal, Inner Self. The word mandala means “circle.” Following Jung, they affirm the rose window represents the “expression of human aspiration towards wholeness and coherence.” Mandalas have existed in Eastern religion and philosophy for centuries:

Left: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting, a mandala. Right: The Rose Window at Chartres.

In eastern philosophy, there are different paths to reach the divine, represented by gates at the cardinal points of the mandala. The goal, the quest, is to attain the center.

If you let your eyes glide along the tracery of the rose window at Chartres, while you slowly take in the geometric patterns, you can slowly awaken to a very calm or meditative Self. It’s almost like prayer, but to your own center.

It is possible that awareness of this ancient yet highly sophisticated occult wisdom enabled the builders of Chartres to carve and create the cathedral with an almost superhuman skill and ability, the same that raised the pyramids, Baalbek, and Stonehenge it stands to reason, then, that Chartres itself would be encoded and embedded with this wisdom, an esoteric gift from the Masons to the Western world. space

All About Mary

This window is located on the south side of the Cathedral, at the entrance to the choir, in bay 14. It consists of twenty-four segments: The three at the bottom of the window depict the three temptations of Christ as recorded by Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. The next six panels tell the story of Christ's first miracle at Cana as recorded in John 2:1-11. The next four central panels show four angels upholding a throne and the Virgin Mary and her Son, Jesus. Ten narrow side panels depict angels doing homage to Mary and Jesus. The central panel above May's head shows the Holy Spirit as a dove.
1. A devil tempts Christ, showing him a stone.
2. Christ stands on the pinnacle of the Temple.
3. Christ, on a mountain, sends the devil away.
4. Followed by his disciples, Christ goes to Cana.
5. The Wedding banquet at Cana.
6. Mary speaks to Christ.
7. Mary speaks to the waiters.
8. Christ changes the water into wine.
9. One of the waiters brings some wine to the
steward of the feast.
10.-11.-12. Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere
(Our Lady of the Beautiful Window).
13. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, sends
forth three rays of light upon the halo around
Mary's head.
14. Four angels uphold the throne on which
Mary is seated.
15.-16.-17.-18. Angels with censers
19.-20. Angeles bearing candles.
21.-22. Angels with censers, whose large bowls
fill up the empty spaces around Mary's head.
23.-24. Angels with hands joined emerge from

In 1194 a fire destroyed Chartres' earlier Cathedral. Of the twelfth-century windows that survived, only this figure of Mary and the large windows at the west end were the only ones deemed worth reusing by the thirteenth century master. This image of Mary has for centuries been an object of special veneration and since the fifteenth century has been known as Our Lady of the Beautiful Window. In 1906, the glazier Gaudin restored Mary's head. While before Mary's gaze was fixed straight ahead, her head is now inclined very slightly towards the viewer's left.

Mary is seated on a throne, her feet resting on a footstool, covered with a rug. She is dressed in a garment of a bright, luminous blue. Her head, surrounded by a blue nimbus bordered with pearls, is surmounted by a rich crown. A white veil falls in folds on either side of her head. Her hands rest on the shoulders of her Son, who is seated on her knees. A cruciform nimbus is around his head. His right hand is raised in blessing. In his left hand he holds an open book where we read the words:

Omnis vallis implebitur ("Every valley shall be filled.") It is a prophecy of the Incarnation found in Isaiah's 40:4 and recalled by John the Baptist in Luke 3:5.

The figures of Mary and Jesus emerge against a background of magnificent red. The images are drawn with the greatest care. The garments with their symmetrical folds, the ornaments along their borders, the architecture of the throne, all is treated with the minute attention to detail, without detracting from the composition of the whole.

It is difficult to find a theme that unifies the entire window. The Temptation of Christ in the wilderness and the Miracle at Cana are two of the earliest incidents in the public life of Christ. There is no agreement among scholars why the glazier decided to include them here.

Image shown:
Notre-Dame de la Belle-Verrière -The upper portion of the window (12 C and 13 C) in the south aisle of the choir.


The Cathedral and Its Builders

‘Elle est enfin, cette basilique, la plus magnifique expression de l’art que le Moyen Age nous ait léguée.’&mdash J. K. Huysmans.

T HE grey spire of the Clocher Vieux, [55]&mdash

was not completed till near the end of the twelfth century, for upon the soffit of the topmost window facing the Clocher Neuf you may read in great Roman letters the name of the master of the works, Harman , 1164. N.D.D. Such, at least, is the inference drawn, though it may well be only the weary vigil of a watchman who nightly gazed over the plains of La Beauce on the look out for beacon signals of alarm, or for the first evidence of a fire in the town, that is recorded in these deep-cut letters. The foundations of the old tower at any rate were laid as early as 1091, and both the square towers were <110>finished by 1145. They carry the spires that are the pride of Chartres, and which have given rise to the popular saying that the perfect cathedral, if it could ever be built, would be composed of the spire of Chartres, the nave of Amiens, the choir of Beauvais, the porch of Reims. [56]

Of the two spires, the northern, Clocher Neuf, with its airy staircases and pierced traceries, built by Jean le Texier, called Jean de Beauce, in the sixteenth century, is the more popular, the Clocher Vieux the more beautiful. The former is flamboyant, decked out with delicate ornament, graceful, rich, and feminine the latter sober, severe, robust, clad, you might fancy, like a man in armour. These giant towers, indeed, and their aerial pinnacles are not twin sisters, but rather, it might seem, sister and elder brother, with their points of resemblance and their points of difference the one, weatherbeaten and grey, but still preserving, in spite of the wrinkles of old age, a noble, male and mellowed beauty the other, the young sister, smiling through the lace of a wedding veil, comely as a bride, fair as the spouse of Christ.

The one, fashioned by the Byzantine chisel, sprang into complete being in the heroic ages of faith, in the days of war, and beheld at its feet Thomas, exiled from Canterbury, and Bernard, when preaching the second Crusade, hailed there by bishops and barons as generalissimo of that great enterprise. The other rose, after a long peace, under the hands of the still Christian architects of the Renaissance, when all dangers and difficulties had been surmounted. She arose in her smiling elegance, rose till it seemed that she would touch the stars, and her mantle shone with a thousand lights and sparkled with a thousand

ornaments. Statues and buttresses, gargoyles, arabesques and crochets pile themselves in successive stages, until the eye loses the sense of everything but a sort of architectural lacework.

The Cathedral is truly a Bible in stone. And just as in the sculptured porches the mediæval masons carved in a symbolic type, which the illiterate could read, the story of the Pentateuch and the Gospels just as in their jewelled windows the monkish glaziers told again the same Bible story for all to see and understand, so it would seem that here in Chartres, the architects also, but by fortune rather than design, have symbolised in stone the Old Testament and the New. In that amazing window of the south transept the prophets of the former dispensation are portrayed carrying on their shoulders the naïve evangelists. Similarly the builders have made the Romanesque crypt to carry the Gothic upper church, and the old tower, eloquent of Byzantine art, massive and superb, confronts the joyous, soaring sister who has sprung up, from like foundations, at his side, the last effort, or rather the last amusement, of that Gothic art which is typical of aspirations that are justified, of a faith that is fulfilled.

The Clocher Vieux combines to the highest degree grandeur with harmonious unity of proportion. From the bottommost stone to the highest there is never a break in the perfect line and the plain massive base of enormous quarried stones, some of which, they say, measure ten feet by three, passes into the light octagonal spire, covered with its curious coat of mail or fishes’ scales, by imperceptible and inevitable gradations. It is a triumph of sheer beauty of proportion unaided by the art of ornament. The transition from the square tower to the tapering flèche is, in spite of this simplicity, so exquisitely treated that it cannot be distinguished. <114>It is a perfect masterpiece of masonic skill. Two terrible fires and more than 700 winters have left it with not one stone displaced. [57]

The mere size of the enormous blocks of stone of which the base is built will fill the most casual visitor with astonishment. It has been suggested that they formed part of those city walls described by the monk Paul which once ran close to the Cathedral, and which were at this period being dismantled in order to admit of the enlargement of enceinte of the town. But we know, from independent contemporary sources, how the labour required to quarry and fetch these huge masses of material was supplied. It was supplied by popular enthusiasm, inspired by religious fervour. For though the work of building, impeded by plague and famine, and a terrible fire which destroyed the town in 1134, went on slowly at first, in 1144 a great outburst of devotion occurred throughout the land. Whole populations arose and came to Chartres to labour at the work of God’s house. A noble rivalry urged every man to toil, and women even took their share in a burden which their faith rendered light, in a task which their devotion made both pleasant and honourable.

‘In this same year,’ writes Robert du Mont, Abbot of Mont S. Michel, to quote one only among all the twelfth-century chroniclers who mention this fact, ‘In this same year at Chartres men began to harness themselves to carts laden with stones and wood, corn and other things, and drag them to the site of the church, the towers of which were then a-building. It was a spectacle the like of which he who hath not seen will never see again, not only here, but scarcely in all France or Normandy or elsewhere. Everywhere sorrow and humility prevailed, on all sides penitence, forgiveness and remorse. On every side you could see <115>men and women dragging heavy loads through the marshy bogs, and scourging themselves with whips. Miracles were being done on every side, and songs and hymns of praise sung to the Lord. You might say that the prophecy was being fulfilled which says, The Spirit of Life was in the wheels of their chariots.’

A curious confirmation of this statement exists in the form of a correspondence which passed at this time between the Bishop of Rouen and the Bishop of Amiens.

‘Mighty are the works of the Lord,’ exclaims Hugh of Rouen. ‘At Chartres men have begun in all humility to drag carts and vehicles of all sorts to aid the building of the Cathedral, and their humility has been rewarded with miracles. The fame of these events has been heard everywhere, and at last roused this Normandy of ours. Our countrymen, therefore, after receiving our blessing, have set out for that place and there fulfilled their vows. They return filled with a resolution to imitate the Chartrains. And a great number of the faithful of our diocese and the dioceses of our province have begun to work at the Cathedral, their mother.’ The north-west tower of the Cathedral of Rouen, the Tour S. Romain, was built in this way. The visitor will notice its resemblance to the Clocher Vieux of Chartres, and this letter will explain why in workmanship and spirit it does so resemble it.

These poor Norman workmen departed on a new crusade, as it were, of chisel and trowel to offer their labour for the adornment of Our Lady’s Church. They travelled in small bands, forming part of a vast association, and, so the bishop informs his reverend brother, admitted no one to join their company unless he had first been confessed and done penance, and laid <116>aside all anger and malevolence, and been reconciled with his enemies. One of their number was chosen to lead them, and under his directions they drew their waggons in silence and humility, and presented their offerings, not without penance and tears.

There is yet another letter which I shall readily be forgiven for quoting, so graphic is the picture which it gives. It is the text to which the beautiful window in the south aisle of the choir furnishes the perfect illustration. The Abbot Haimon of S. Pierre-sur-Dive wrote to his brethren of Tutbury, in Staffordshire, a small priory dependent on S. Pierre, in the following strain:&mdash

‘Who has ever seen or who heard in all the ages of the past that kings, princes and lords, mighty in their generation, swollen with riches and honours, that men and women, I say, of noble birth have bowed their haughty necks to the yoke and harnessed themselves to carts like beasts of burden, and drawn them, laden with wine, corn, oil, stone, wood and other things needful for the maintenance of life or the construction of the church, even to the doors of the asylum of Christ? But what is even more astonishing is that, although sometimes a thousand or more of men and women are attached to one cart&mdashso vast is the mass, so heavy the machine, so weighty the load&mdashyet so deep a silence reigns that not a voice, not a whisper even can be heard. And when there is a halt called on the way there is no sound save that of the confession of sins and the suppliant prayer to God for pardon. There, whilst the priests are preaching peace, all hatred is lulled to sleep and quarrels are banished, debts forgiven, and the union of hearts re-established. But if anyone is so hardened that he cannot bring himself to forgive his enemies or to beg the pious admonitions of the priests, then his offering is withdrawn from <117>the common stock as unclean, and he himself is separated, with much shame and ignominy, from the society of the holy people. Forward they press, unchecked by rivers, unhindered by mountains. You might think that they were the children of Israel crossing Jordan, and for them, as for the children of Israel, miracles are wrought. But when they come to the church, they set their waggons in a circle so as to form, as it were, a spiritual camp, and all the following night the watch is kept by the whole army with hymns and songs of praise. Candles and lamps are lit on each waggon the sick and the feeble are placed thereon the relics of the saints are brought to them in the hope that they may find relief. The clergy at the head of a procession, and the people following, pass by and pray with renewed fervour that the sick may be healed.’

Then occurred scenes such as may be beheld to-day before the grotto in the mountain village of Lourdes. For Chartres was the Lourdes of the Middle Ages. The maimed and the halt recovered their powers, leapt from the waggons and flung away their crutches the blind received their sight, the sick were healed, and all joined, after returning thanks before the altar, in the task of building the house of their Redeemer.

You see their work, you behold the material in which they wrought, as you stand before the western façade [58] and gaze in wonder for the stones, it seems, have become intelligent, and matter is here spiritualised. But you will almost cease to wonder when you remember the spirit in which they wrought it. Such was the <118>spirit, and such only could be the spirit, which produced the master-art of Gothic, and led the daring architects from step to step in the attainment of their triumphs, as they left behind them the heavy piers and the thick dark arches of the Pagan Romanesque and arrived at last at the perfect expression of the Christian spirit in their soaring arches, their airy buttresses, and their pointing pinnacles flaming upwards to the skies.

Seven miles distant from Chartres lie the quarries of Berchères-l’Évêque, whence, in the spirit and manner that has been described, they brought this ‘miraculous’ stone&mdashmiraculous, for it was in a vision that the existence of the quarry was said to have been revealed. Miraculous one may almost call it still, by reason of its quality of hardness, its gift of wear, and the exquisite tones which it has taken on with years. Of the two towers the old one is the better built many of the stones of the other were laid in too little mortar and have consequently split. These blocks of stone are marked with various masonic signs, a fact which confirms the supposition that the two towers were built by the Frères Maçons or Logeurs du bon Dieu, as they were called, those famous associations of the Middle Ages, corporations of artist workmen, who were indeed ‘masters of the living stone.’

The first time that the traveller beholds the porches of Chartres he is filled with admiration for the exquisite effect of the whole, and afterwards for the exquisite details of which that whole is composed. He may, if he is of an imaginative temperament, fall into some reverie and picture to himself a host of historic fantasies.

But later he will begin to realise that the sculpture which had pleased his eye and inspired his dreams is not a mere ornament of the building. Each part of the Cathedral, like the Cathedral as a whole, is the <119>superb product of the intimate alliance of nameless architects, nameless sculptors, nameless painters of glass, working with the one object of setting forth the glory of God and His Son and the Virgin to the multitude, of illustrating for all unreading eyes the Word of the Lord. The Cathedral is a Bible in stone, and the porches a gospel in relief, a sculptured catechism, a preface and a résumé of the book. Each stone, thus understood, is seen to be a page of a great drama. This drama is the history of humanity from the creation of the world to the day of the Last Judgment. Within, the same story is repeated. The jewelled windows are there not only for the sake of the holiness of their beauty, not merely to provide the pilgrim with the dim religious light suitable to his mood, or that the placid sunshine of La Beauce may be transformed into imperious angry fire. The five thousand figures in those legendary lights are the commentary and the repetition of the sculptured text without.

Who conceived, the question arises again and again, this admirable plan, this marvellous whole? Who were the artists of Notre-Dame? We are in great ignorance of the matter, and the question cannot be definitely answered.

The cloister we know was the only refuge of art the monasteries the sole asylums for those who would study science. And to those peaceable retreats painters, sculptors, artists perforce retired to practise, to invent, to teach the secrets of their trade secrets, alas! of colour among them, which have been irretrievably lost to this scientific generation. We know, for instance, that in the Monastery of Tiron, which S. Bernard founded on lands given to him for that purpose by S. Ives, more than five hundred artists of one sort or another were to be found. S. Bernard insisted on the observance of <120>that point in the Benedictine rule which recommends that ‘if there be artists in the monastery they shall with all humility practise their arts.’ These monks, we also know, established a branch at Chartres, ‘near the market-place.’ Perhaps, therefore, S. Bernard paid his debt to S. Ives and the Chapter of Notre-Dame by furnishing the hands which carved the statues and the storied capitals of the three bays of the western façade.

In the S. Sylvester window, to the right of the entrance to the Chapel of S. Piat, and in the S. Chéron window of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Mary, the old glass painters have well represented the masons of Notre-Dame. Here is a beardless dresser of stone, there a sculptor with his rough, pointed cap. The iron hardness of the miraculous stone yields to the untiring application of chisel and mallet, and beneath their ceaseless blows its formless mass by degrees becomes shapely. Above the workers appears the chapel in which the window now is. A mason in a round hat is quietly laying a cornice stone, whilst his help-mate, carrying a piece of sculpture, climbs up a little ladder. In the background four other masons, shaven and clad like the common people, are busy shaping the statues of kings&mdashthe very statues which now, representing the ancestors of Christ, stand in the porch without. The statue is as yet only blocked out: the artist is beginning to model it with his chisel. His companion the while, warm with his past exertions, is drinking. The royal statue begins to be distinguishable. The eyes and the mouth are leaping into life: the crown is being adorned with pearls, the sceptre decorated, the robe and mantle draped, the hands modelled. The man who has blocked it out has finished his task and takes his rest his companion carves, polishes and puts the finishing touches to the work he has begun.

What were their names? No one knows. The <121>names of some of the donors are preserved in the necrologies of the grateful canons, but of all the clever artists of Notre-Dame hardly one has left his name behind him, like the Robbir who carved his signature beneath the combat of David and Goliath on the north porch.

This is in no way surprising, when we remember the spirit in which these works were done. The Cathedrals were built and decorated for the glory of God, not for the glorification of the artists. Men dedicated to the Church their money and their labour for the remission of their sins, and not with the object of acquiring fame. We have seen, and shall see again, how whole populations rose up and came on a pilgrimage from afar to build and to rebuild the house of God, when to the enthusiasm of the Crusades succeeded the holy ardour of religious construction and men took the Cross, not to depart to war in the East, but to labour humbly at the work of God, Our Lady and the saints. Then from the distant cloister came forth the architect, and artists and, at the voice of a bishop calling for aid, the sacred work began. The peasants quarried stone and brought material, the young men dressed it, and the masons raised the lofty piers and fashioned the groined roof beneath the eye of the ‘master of the work.’ The pilgrims would sojourn, perhaps, for a year in the town, labouring with such ardour that when the light failed they would often continue by the light of torches. Not far from the site of the church, in some adjacent monastery, the glass-painters designed and stained and fitted into the leads their coloured windows, and the sculptors chiselled bas-reliefs and statues. A man’s labour was his offering, his art very often his best and only alms. His name was one name only among a thousand, his work might surpass in excellence but it would be the same in spirit with that of a <122>thousand other pilgrims like unto himself. Why should his name therefore be recorded?

So it came about that the ‘master of the work’ received from the many workers statuary of varying excellence, and gave it all its place in the Cathedral. Among the thousands of sculptures at Chartres or Reims many are of very inferior merit. Many a chef-d’œuvre, on the other hand, on which the pious sculptor has lavished all his skill is hidden in inaccessible nooks, or scarcely visible in the loftiest part of a building, thus showing clearly the motive of devotion which inspired the worker.

It was in this sense, then, that the Cathedral of Chartres was built ‘by universal suffrage,’ as Lowell put it, just as the entire population from the Coquet to the Tees, headed by the Earl of Northumberland, rose up to build the Cathedral of Durham. The nearest modern analogy to such enthusiasm is to be found in the history of Christianity in Uganda or in the building of the church at Swindon by the united, unpaid efforts of the working men of that town. It was the living faith of the people, not the mere feudal requisition of their labour by the bishops (corvées) which created the mediæval temples, faith strong and simple as that which inspired Sabine of Steinbach or her who laid the last stone of the Dom of Köln.

It would, however, be misleading to suggest that, because many pilgrims worked for the love of God, all the workers were unpaid. We hear of occasions when money failed and

Such things as the Jubé, the porches and the rose windows, executed after elaborate consultations and <123>under the supervision of the ‘master of work,’ were inspected again by a clever master from another country. The chief workers were lodged in houses of the cloister belonging to the Chapter, who granted them doles from time to time and furnished them yearly with gloves and a mantle.

The naïveté of the mediæval artists is one of their chief charms, but there is often a spice of wickedness in their work. Read the fabliaux and mysteries of the time, from the Bible of Guyot de Provins to the play acted on the Piazza of Troyes in 1475, and you will find passages enough that offend the taste and are worthy of the actors in the Feast of Fools. The satire of the Trouvères, whether they are scourging monks, barons or sovereign pontiffs, is often extremely gross. Similarly, while the Count of Chartres was chanting in chivalrous fashion the praises of his lady, the porches of the Cathedral were receiving into their niches here and there the representations of certain ugly vices and their punishment, such as Dante ere long was to translate into the harmonious verses of his Divina Commedia. Fallen nuns and erring queens are delivered over to grinning demons, and Satan rubs his hands at the sight of his innumerable victims (south porch). S. Augustin might protest against the apocryphal Scriptures, and Popes denounce the legendary poetry of the early centuries, but painters persisted in depicting with excessive freedom the histories of S. Thomas and S. James, and sculptors still waxed wanton when they carved the sins of the Prodigal Son. S. Bernard, the enigma of his age, was constrained to cry out against the grotesque ornamentation of the churches.

But it is not the mere naughtiness of some satirical mason giving expression to the humour of the people which accounts for all the mediæval grotesques&mdashfor <124>the Imp of Lincoln, the Noah of Bourges, the Devils of Notre-Dame-de-Paris, the Ass of Chartres. Vices were portrayed in order to illustrate their punishment. ‘Let faithful souls but see the Passion of Our Lord represented,’ says an old writer, ‘and rarely will they fail to be filled with compunction and to raise their eyes to heaven.’ To the impressionable, childlike, illiterate men of the Middle Ages, accordingly, the clergy taught the lessons of dogma and belief through the personages of drama or the medium of art. The sculpted bays of a porch or the storied windows of a nave were a lesson for the ignorant, a sermon for the believer, appealing through the eyes to the heart. The representation of the mysteries and miracle plays showed to him in action and helped him to realise the persons whose figures were already familiar to him as painted on glass, sculptured on capitals, incrusted on the vaulting of the doors. Graphic and dramatic art constituted the books of those who did not know how to read. With the aid of these material objects, as the Abbot Suger, the great artist of S. Denis, declared, [60] the feeble spirit can mount to the truth and the soul which was plunged in darkness rise to the light which bursts upon its terrestrial eyes. We need not wonder then if the paintings of the Middle Ages have not always the severity of modern ecclesiastical art, for vices were portrayed with a view to condemning them the more thoroughly. The mediæval masons were strangers, it would seem, to the legend of Spinello. Evil for them was always ugly, and the Devil a monster, not Lucifer.

But at Chartres this side of life is not dealt with overmuch. The bases of the pillars of the bays in the south and the western porches give some examples of

men and women in the thralls of vice. Apart from these instances, the most famous and striking examples of the masons’ satiric warning are the Âne qui vielle and the Truie qui file. These curious imposts of the closed doorway on the south side of the clocher Vieux represent a donkey playing a harp and a sow spinning. [61] They are epigrams in stone, intended to remind us of the maxims, Asinus ad lyram, and Ne sus Minervam doceat warnings against the pretentious ambitions of the awkward and incompetent, equivalent to the French dictum Que Gros-Jean n’en remontre pas à son curé a proverb of which we have some obvious but homely versions. But of infernal beasts and Vices there is at Chartres, so much is this the Church of Our Lady, a decided scarcity. Of the Virtues there are many: most celebrated is the proud statue of Liberty in the left bay of the north porch, in which some writers have seen a reference to the Communal freedom granted to the people by the Kings, but which is in reality only <126>one of the series of fourteen Heavenly Beatitudes as described by the mediæval theologians, which fill some of the rows of the vaulting of this bay.

On the south angle of the Clocher Vieux there is an angel carrying a sun-dial, of whom one would gladly know more. There is an angel-dial on the corresponding part of the S. Laurence Church at Genoa, and one which much resembles this, and may have been by the same hands, is at the south corner of the cloister at Laon. Our angel stands with bare feet on a bracket, and above his head is a ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’&mdasha daïs showing a city with turrets and windows. He is clad in a long tunic covered by a mantle which fits close to his long, thin body. His hands are intended to support a disc on which a sun-dial was traced. His arms are outspread. Clearly the present dial traced on a heavy square stone, with the date 1578, which covers his breast, was an addition of that year, but does not mark the date of the angel. For though the smile which lurks about his fair monastic countenance is scarce angelic, and may suggest rather the disquieting, seraphic types of the Renaissance, yet the whole figure, with its simple and successful treatment of the hair and draperies, is redolent of the Byzantine style, which we shall trace in the family of kings and queens grouped beneath the Porche Royal. To that family he must belong.

You will move gladly into the porch to study its beautiful twelfth-century sculpture, for whilst you have been looking at this angel you will have learnt that round the south-west corner of the Cathedral, as about the Abbey in Old Palace Yard in Westminster, the wind never ceases to blow, and often blows a hurricane. Before the Hôtel-Dieu, which was quite close to the Clocher Vieux, was destroyed, the gusts of wind were so violent that the passage called L’Âne qui vielle had the reputation of being impassable. One Canon Brillon, a hundred years ago, wrote a poem in which he related that ‘On a time Wind and Discord were travelling over the plains of La Beauce and suddenly turned in the direction of the Cathedral. Arrived at the foot of the towers, Discord left his companion, asking him to wait near L’Âne qui vielle whilst he went into the Chapter-house. Contentious business detained him there so long that the Wind is still waiting, waiting for him outside

As I struggle through Old Palace Yard I often wonder whether it is in the House of Commons or in the Chapter-house of the Abbey that Discord is so busily engaged, for the wind here, as in Chartres and at Kill-Cannon Corner at Lincoln, is always waiting outside, a truly Gothic draught! [62]

The western porch is composed of three large bays, of which the middle one was, as always in Christian churches, known as the Porte Royale. This name was given it because in the tympanum Christ was always represented triumphant, the King of Kings. Nor, as you gaze at the wealth of statuary and ornamentation upon which, as upon the architecture, the artists have lavished all their resources and all their skill in their <128>endeavour to illustrate the Story of the Triumph of Our Lord, will you grudge this entrance its other names of Porta Speciosa and Porta Triumphalis. The sculptured figures are of every size. Once the whole porch was a blaze of colour. Of this colour and gold you may still see a few traces left.

Begun about 1110, under S. Ives, this typical example of early Gothic work was not completed till nearly 1150, and among those who wrought the images which people it were, some think, the artists who had worked at the Porch of S. Sermin at Toulouse, and knew that of S. Trophimus at Arles.

They would thus connect it with the art of the South, and, through that, with Roman art. It appears to me rather to be directly under the influence and inspiration of Byzantine art. There is to one’s eye something Eastern in this work as surely as there is something Eastern also to one’s ear in the rhythms of a Gregorian chant. However that may be, nowhere, at any rate, has the story of Christ’s Triumph been told so fully and with such a wealth of detail in stone as at Chartres. We are shown here not only His triumph but the events which led up to it. The whole Gospel is revealed to the gaze of the Christian who is about to enter the house of the Lord. The story is taken from the apocryphal as well as the canonical Gospels. It begins with the scenes represented by the thirty-eight miniature groups of the capitals, the figures of which, in spite of their small size and occasional lack of proportion, are full of life and interest. The first series starts northwards from the central doorway, and here the chisel literally reproduces the legend of S. Joachim and S. Anne and the Birth of the Virgin: then follows the story of Joseph and Mary and the Nativity of Our Lord, up to the episode of the Massacre of the Innocents. This brings us to the Clocher Neuf. We must <129>now return to the right hand portion of the central doorway, and take up the story again, moving in the direction of the Clocher Vieux. The events recorded, up to the last appearance of Jesus to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, it is hardly necessary to enumerate.

Thus in this rich stone compendium of the Christian story even the capitals of the pillars, which we are accustomed to see adorned only with foliage, flowers, fantastic figures and mere patterns, have been pressed into the service of the teller of the tale, and recount in petto scenes from the life of Christ upon earth. We have been shown Him expected, prophesied, prefigured and again realising the prophecies and fulfilling all the acts of His divine mission. If we look now above, in the tympanums of the three doorways, we shall find the triumph, joys and glory of the life to come portrayed, and the crowning of religion in the person of its Chief. First of all, in the tympanum of the left bay, we have His Last Coming.

The artists of the Middle Ages never omit the scene of the Last Judgment from the western façade of their churches but, curiously enough, the Last Judgment before us is always interpreted as an Ascension or a Descent into Hell, and writers have been exercised to explain the omission of what after all has not been omitted.

Not only is a Last Judgment required here, but any other explanation of the sculpture fails to suit the attitude of the figures represented. The tympanum is divided into three sections. In the upper portion Christ is standing upright on a ground of fire or cloud. His right hand is raised, His left lowered. Two angels accompany Him, whose pose is not symmetrical, as would be that of censing angels, for Christ is saying to the angel on the right, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father,’ and to the angel on the left, ‘Depart from Me, ye who <130>work iniquity.’ In the central section are four angels emerging from the clouds. Their open mouths, and the gestures of their arms, one beckoning, the other pointing above, indicate that they are heavenly messengers, who have come ‘to gather together the elect from the four winds.’ And below them, gazing heavenward in holy calm and happiness, sit the Apostles, chosen to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. They are clad in long robes and mantles with borders of pearls after the Byzantine fashion. There is room for only ten of them on the lintel (which is nearly 9 feet broad), and several of them are mutilated. We may regret but we cannot wonder that many of the seven hundred statues have suffered more or less from the hand of Time or of men. There is more reason to be amazed that for over seven hundred years they have so successfully escaped the perils of war and of sacrilege that have threatened them.

In the vaulting of this doorway are the signs of the months and the signs of the Zodiac which roughly correspond with them. But since there was room for only ten of the latter, the remaining two were inserted in the vaulting of the right bay, where they are really out of place. Here they suggest the meaning that Christ is of all time, ‘the same yesterday, and to-day and for ever.’

The Cathedral can boast five such almanacs, which it may be found interesting to compare&mdashthree in the porches, one in a window of the south aisle of the choir, and one (sixteenth century) on the clock of the choir screen.

Mediæval masons followed the example of Pagan antiquity, and like the architects of Persia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India and Mexico, loved to trace upon their holy buildings the allegories of Time, whether in the form of the personification of the twelve months, <131>of the four seasons, or the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The months are symbolised with extraordinary cleverness of detail, in a manner at once naïve and effective, by the recreations and employments to which they lend themselves.

The zodiacal signs are given in the verses of Ausonius:&mdash

And as to the months, they, in the quatrain attributed to the venerable Bede, describe themselves as follows:&mdash

The studious visitor may compare the treatment of them in the windows and porch at Chartres with that which they receive at Venice, Reims, Verona, Sens, Amiens, Bruges and the English churches.

In the tympanum of the right-hand doorway the Virgin (1150) sits, crowned and throned, a sceptre in her hand, sharing the triumph of her Son. The Holy Child is in the act of blessing the world, and on either side are two archangels, censing. Beneath are the chief scenes of the life of Mary&mdashthe Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, appearance of the Angels to the Shepherds and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and above, in the vaulting which forms the frame of this picture, are, in one row, six archangels carrying incense in honour of Mary, and, in the other, the seven Liberal Arts, each of them symbolised by <132>two statuettes, the one representing the inventor or paragon, the other the allegory of the art. Here, then, as at Laon, Sens, Auxerre and many other places, we have the carved expression of the opinion of Albertus Magnus, that in Music (Pythagoras), Dialectic (Aristotle), Rhetoric (Cicero), Geometry (Euclid), Arithmetic (Nichomachus), Astronomy (Ptolemy), and Grammar (Priscian), in all the knowledge of the Middle Ages, in fact, the Virgin Mary was well skilled.

The tympanums of the right and the left bays have both suffered much from years: they are blurred and defaced with age, and it is perhaps partly for this reason that, in spite of many fine points, they seem inferior, crude even, by the side of the tympanum of the central bay.

This is one of the most beautiful masterpieces of mediæval statuary. In the centre is the risen Christ, enthroned, triumphant, yet full of mercy and tenderness. An aureole is about His head, His feet are set upon the footstool of the earth. With an infinite pity, it would seem, He beholds and blesses the thousands who for seven hundred years pass, and have passed, beneath Him into the Cathedral. With one hand He blesses, with the other He holds the book sealed with the seven seals. He is there, clad in an antique mantle, which falls in a cascade of folds about His naked feet, a bearded Christ, with long, straight hair, and an expression of sweet gravity, and the artist has succeeded somehow in convincing us that this is the Christ expected and foretold, fulfilling the past as He will fulfil the future, and reigning for ever in time upon earth, and hereafter for ever beyond time in heaven. Above Him two angels hold a large crown, destined for the eternal King of the Ages.

He is surrounded by the four-winged symbols of the


evangelists. On the lintel, as if on the first step of the throne, are grouped beneath an arcade, and in pairs, as they were sent forth to preach the Gospel, the twelve Apostles. And, to complete the scene from the Apocalypse, in the rows of the vaulting above, are the twelve angels and the heavenly choir of four-and twenty elders, having every one of them a different and curious mediæval instrument of music. They are clothed in white raiment, and on their heads are crowns of gold. [64]

They form, as it were, a living halo round the King of Ages, in a picture of incomparable grandeur and simplicity, the conception of which reveals not only the genius of art, but also, and, above all, the genius of faith.

But we have not yet completed the tale of the western porch. It yet remains to mention those strange colossal figures, which are by far the most beautiful and remarkable among all these

These curious figures, these seven kings and seven prophets and five queens, these nineteen survivors of the twenty-four once here, with their thin, elongated bodies, their small heads, their Eastern drapery, their anatomical faults, and their haunting faces, may strike you at first as unattractive, bizarre. But nothing is more certain than that, if you study them, you will find in them an unutterable beauty and an ineffable charm. For this is the most spiritual and fascinating sculpture in the world, wrought with an infinite delicacy and an inimitable cleverness of detail, by the hands of artists who were consummate in their craft, and had learned, if not the perfection of form of <136>the old Greeks, yet the secret, as it has been said, of spiritualising matter.

The figures stand upright, with an air of inviolable repose, beneath canopies like that of the Angel-sundial, heavenly Jerusalems, miniature Zions. Their hands are glued to their sides, their drapery falls, in most cases, in straight parallel folds a halo is, or has been, behind the head of each. They are clad in the long, rich robes of the East. Over some of these a kind of dalmatic reaches to the knees. The girdles and the broidered robes, the arrangement of the sleeves and veils, and the jewellery of the crowns they wear, all demand the closest study. The hard stone has been handled with such precision and such feeling that you might almost fancy it, here, a delicate brocade, and there, a necklace of veritable jewels. You could almost untie the knots of those girdles, unplait almost the long braided tresses of those mystic queens. And the heads of these silent watchers, who have waited here and watched, with ever the same living smile about their thin, ironical Gallic lips, are portraits startling in their lifelike reality.

The bare feet rest upon pedestals which are not the least exquisite portions of these sculptured monoliths. For they are richly ornamented with carved chequerwork, so delicately chiselled as to seem the work of a goldsmith rather than a mason mosaic patterns, which, like the borders of the stained-glass windows, betray the influence of the East through the medium of the Crusades. An exception, however, must be made in the case of the three first statues of the left bay, next to the Clocher Neuf. These have no halo, and the pedestals on which they rest their feet are groups of enigmatic beings. The first, a king who has been given by some modern restorer a thirteenth-century Virgin’s head, treads underfoot a man, now scarce recognisable, enfolded by two serpents the second, a king also, rests upon a woman, who holds with one hand the tail of a dragon, on which she is trampling, and with the other she fingers a tress of her long, plaited hair the third, a queen of grosser type, but very richly clad, has beneath her feet a curious group, composed of a large ape, two dragons, a toad, a dog and a basilisk with a monkey’s face.

It has been supposed that this group represents the benefactors of the Cathedral, William the Conqueror, Henry the First and Queen Matilda. But this explanation, like that of the last-named group as representing the Deadly Sins, is mere conjecture. Nor can we do more than name as kings, prophets and queens the remaining sixteen statues which line the porch. The fourth and fifth, counting from the Clocher Neuf, are prophets, Isaiah and Daniel perhaps, according to the suggestions of M. l’Abbé Bulteau: the eighth, ninth and tenth, Ezekiel, James-the-Less and Thaddæus the eleventh, thirteenth and fourteenth, kings with missals and sceptres in their hands, may be Edward the Confessor, Charlemagne <138>and Cnut the fifteenth, S. Paul the sixteenth, a haloed, virgin king, beardless, and full of the holy charm and freshness of youth, S. Henry (1024) the seventeenth, S. Peter the eighteenth, S. Constantine the last, a queen, much defaced, like several of the others, Pulcheria, beloved of the Byzantines.

There yet remains the sixth, seventh and twelfth of the statues, the absorbing, seductive, inexpressible queens of the central bay. Her sexless shape, the book in her hands, her expectant gaze, rapt as it were in a vision of the ages, proclaim the first to be a nun rather than a queen, albeit she is clad in royal raiment&mdashS. Radegonde, Queen of France (582), Bulteau suggests.

The second is younger, and her beauty of a more earthly type. She wears a halo, and is clad like the other, <139>save that she has no mantle, and her head is not shrouded in a veil. Her long hair falls in two plaits over her shoulders, and the tight-drawn body of her garment reveals the curves of her figure. Her expression is that of a rebellious, artful and vindictive nature, and, if she is rightly supposed to be Queen Clotilde, she is, as M. Huysmans [65] remarks, Clotilde before her repentance, the Queen before the saint.

The last, the angelic mysterious queen with the sweet, ingenuous smile, and the great deep eyes, is, according to local tradition, Bertha aux grands pieds, mother of Charlemagne. Her right hand once lay open upon her breast, and there it has left its impression. In the left hand she carried a sceptre, terminating in an ornament that still remains. She is clad in sumptuous raiment, most delicate in texture, and fringed with lace. Her figure is elongated, so that she seems to be like some rare lily swaying forward on its stalk. And thus, beneath her eyebrows slightly raised, she smiles down upon the visitor in the childlike grace of her chaste simplicity, saintement gamine.

Of the other statues that complete the company of Christ&mdashmartyrs, prophets and patron saints of donors in the jambs of the doorways, or between the other figures&mdashI shall only call attention to the merchant on the right pier of the Porte Royale, who is being robbed by the earliest cut-purse in mediæval sculpture, and to the name Rogerus, cut above the broken head of an adjacent butcher. Was this the architect Roger who built the Tour-Grise at Dreux, and who was then chosen by S. Ives to build this western porch?

M. Bulteau suggests the question. But it cannot be answered.

Over the three doorways two pilasters with simple <140>mouldings run up on either side of the central window as far as the rose, terminating in symbolic carvings&mdashthe northern one in the head of an ox, representative of sacrifice, symbolising here, it is said, the abolition of Judaism, with its sacrifices and cult the southern one in that of a lion holding a man’s head, which is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and here symbolises Christ triumphant in the hearts of men.

The two towers, the old spire, and the western porch described, together with the west front up to the rose-window, including, therefore, the three enormous windows (34 feet by 13 feet, and 28 feet by 9 feet), and their unrivalled treasure of twelfth-century glass, which, through repeated dangers, has been preserved to us, are all that remain of the Church of Fulbert, rebuilt by S. Ives.

For in 1194, when Regnault de Mouçon was bishop, and when they were about to begin the spire of the Clocher Neuf, the Cathedral was destroyed by fire. Mirabili et miserabili incendio devastata, says a manuscript of the year 1210, now in the Vatican, and Jehan le Marchand in his Book of Miracles writes of this year:&mdash

It is worth while to quote this and other accounts because the patriotic desire to see in the present building the Cathedral of Fulbert has led to some unpardonable garbling of evidence, with a view to concealing the fact of this fire.

Guillaume-le-Breton, who died in 1226, records in his Latin poem, ‘The Philippide,’ written in honour of King Philippe-Auguste, that the church was burnt <141>at this time. ‘It was so ordered,’ he infers, ‘in order that the present church might be built and shine in its unequalled splendour. [66] For the former one was not yet worthy to be called the “mestre maison de Marie.” Completely rebuilt of hewn stone, and covered throughout its whole length by a roof as it had been by the shell of a tortoise, it now need have nothing to fear from fire till the day of judgment. And from that fire springeth the salvation of the many by whose efforts the Cathedral was rebuilt.’

The account of another contemporary, William of Newbridge, the chronicler of the wars of Philippe-Auguste and of our Richard, whose lion-heart lies in the tomb at the Cathedral of Rouen, gives another explanation of the burning, and incidentally throws a vivid light upon the state of the country at that time.

‘The troops of King Philippe,’ he says, ‘had retired precipitately from Évreux on the approach of King Richard. Now the King of the French, to wipe out the dishonour of this shameful retreat, threw himself with implacable fury on Évreux, which he had already sacked a short time before. He did not even spare the Church of S. Taurin, so famous in that country. He gave orders, indeed, that it should be given to the flames, and, as no one in his army would, for fear of God, execute so sacrilegious a command, the King himself, it is said, with some abandoned men called Ribauds, entered the sacred edifice and set fire to it. It is said, further, that he transferred to Chartres the spoils of the Church of S. Taurin but these spoils were as fire to that famous city. It fell, in consequence, a prey to the flames, and was almost completely destroyed.’

All the inhabitants of the town, we learn from the author of the Book of Miracles, clergy and laymen <142>alike, lost all their houses and their wealth in this disastrous conflagration. Yet their distress at their own losses was as nothing compared with their grief at the destruction of the church. But when the Sainte Châsse, containing the precious relic which they called

could no more be seen, their sorrow passed all bounds. Bitter tears filled their eyes, and they cried aloud that the glory of Chartres and of the whole country side was departed. They despaired of their town, and were ready to quit forever the homes which they no longer had the heart to rebuild.

But the legate of the Pope, Mélior, Cardinal of Pisa, who happened to be at Chartres, summoned the bishop and Chapter, and called upon them to take courage and to begin rebuilding their Cathedral. He exhorted them to fast and pray that their sins, which had brought upon them this calamity, might be forgiven, and to set an example to the laity by emptying their purses,

His eloquence met with such success that the bishop and his clergy devoted the greater part of their incomes for three years to the work of rebuilding and paying those ‘skilled labourers and masons.’

Next he called together all the people, and exhorted them also to devote themselves to the task. And when he had finished speaking there emerged from the depths of the crypt some devoted clerks, bringing with them the holy casket and its priceless contents, ‘the true mirror and the precious treasure,’ which all thought had been destroyed. The people fell on <143>their knees in a transport of delight, weeping tears of gratitude and joy. For a miracle had been wrought. As Jonah was kept from harm three days in the belly of the whale, as Noah was preserved from the flood and Daniel from the lion’s jaws, so these devout servants of the Lord had been saved alive in the deep recesses of the martyrium, ‘in the grotto near the altar which the men of old had prudently constructed,’ whither they had retired with the Veil, and had lived unharmed and unafraid, whilst the walls and roofs of the Cathedral fell about their ears, and the molten bells and glass surged in a fiery flood around them.

Their appearance gave point to the eloquence of the cardinal. All classes, in gratitude, devoted themselves to rebuilding the Cathedral. And, in order that resources might not be lacking, in order that pilgrims might come from far and near, bringing money and labour to supplement the contributions of the Chapter and people, a series of miracles was wrought. [67]

It appears, says the chronicler Jehan de Marchand, with whose poetical legends, let me advertise the reader, I shall fill the remainder of this chapter, that the first miracle which roused the enthusiasm of the people was the healing of a little child of Le Perche, young Guillot. His tongue had been cruelly cut out by a <144>knight whom he had surprised in an intrigue. Poor and mutilated, the orphan lad fled to Chartres to beg his bread. Kneeling there, on Shrove Tuesday, before the altar of Our Lady, he burst suddenly into loud praise of God, albeit he was tongueless. All the people when they heard him were filled with amazement. They crowded to the scene of his healing to render thanks and make their offerings before the altar, whilst the boy, that he might not be stifled by the crowd, was placed upon a scaffolding near the Châsse of S. Lubin. And the Virgin, ‘qui voloit la chose parfeire,’ obtained for him that on the day of Pentecost he should receive a new tongue. ‘This child,’ says the author, ‘object of a double miracle, is still living in our midst.’

At the news of these marvels multitudes began to come together from every part, bringing waggons and carts laden with corn, wine, iron and all things useful or necessary for the building of the church. Jewels also and precious things they brought. The devotional enthusiasm of 1145 was repeated. The marvellous spectacles presented to-day by the Grotto of Lourdes were seen then at Chartres.

So great was the crowd of pilgrims that they were obliged to pass the night in their carts about the Cathedral, for they could not all find shelter within the Cathedral, and the clerks coming to perform their offices therein could not for the press make their way into the cloister. [68]

These pilgrims were but one wave on the ocean of Catholic devotion: pilgrims, whether kings like Charles, coming to replace an image disfigured by profane Huguenots, or courtiers bringing with them the very presence and perfume of the Paris of their day, or pious wanderers from the remotest provinces of France and from strange lands beyond the seas, scholars from the universities and weather-beaten travellers from the New Continent, with outlandish offerings to Our Lady, they wash forever against the hospitable shores of Chartres, and break peacefully upon the gray cliffs of the Cathedral. A trace of their offerings, stranded on the shores of time, is to be found in the coins dug up in the Butte des Charbonniers in 1846, now in the Musée coins which range in date from the earliest days of the Roman occupation down to the latter part of the sixteenth century, and which bear the superscription of innumerable kings and dukes and princes of various climes.

Of the wave of pilgrims which now occupies our attention you may see a record in the first window in the clerestory of the choir on the north side. There, beneath a Virgin enthroned and the blazon of the bishop, Regnault de Mouçon, are two groups which show what manner of men were they who came to swell the tide of workers for Our Lady of Chartres, and through whose aid, says the chronicler, the piers, the vaults and the altars of the Cathedral rose as if by magic.

The Chapter was not content to sit idly and wait for <146>miracles. They had recourse to human means. To obtain contributions towards the expense of this mestre maison de la Reine des Cieux, they sent priests afar to collect in all the countries and cathedrals of Europe. Now a young Englishman who had been studying in the schools of Paris and was returning home passed by Soissons by chance and entered the church. A Chartrain preacher was describing in eloquent and touching terms the disasters that had befallen Notre-Dame of Chartres. The audience was so moved by his eloquence that they all emptied their purses in response to his appeal. But the young Englishman had nothing to give except a golden necklace, which he intended for the girl he loved in London. Moved by the words of the preacher, after a long struggle, he made the offering of this necklace and, leaving Soissons, set out for the sea, passing the night in the barn of a friendly innkeeper, for, as we have seen, he was penniless. Overwhelmed with fatigue, he fell asleep upon the straw. But in the dead of night the barn was filled with a celestial light, and, waking, he beheld three women of rare beauty, one of whom revealed herself to him as the Lady of Chartres. Then she restored to him his necklace, and he vowed to consecrate himself to her service. He returned to his own country,

and after taking leave of his parents, withdrew to a desert island, where he lived the chaste life of a hermit and enjoyed the ineffable bliss of communion with his fair visitant.

Richard Cœur-de-Lion, King of England, when he heard of this miracle, conceived a great veneration for the Church of Chartres, and, although he was at that time at war with Philippe-Auguste, he welcomed, encouraged and endowed with alms the emissaries of <147>the Chapter, gave them safe conduct through his lands, and himself did obeisance before the sacred coffer and its relics. It was he who told the tale of this miraculous vision to his sister, Countess of Blois, and he loved to speak of it to the faithful on every occasion.

Thus the solemn voice of the Church, through the agency of these emissaries, made itself heard throughout the land, promising ‘indulgences’ to those who responded generously to her appeals, and threatening with anathemas those who dared to pillage the convoys of the pilgrims. The inhabitants of Château-Landon, as our poet relates, stirred, man and woman alike, by the discourse of their pastor, resolved to load a waggon with wheat and take it to aid the workers at Chartres. They yoked themselves to the waggon and began to pull with all their strength, but the road was so heavy that they made but slow progress. Ere they reached Chartres they ran short of provisions. The villagers gave them bread out of their small store, and behold, the loaves of bread were multiplied unto them, and they found, when they had eaten, that the villagers had as many loaves as they had had at first.

The inhabitants of Bonneval, of Puiset, of Pithiviers and of Corbeville, filled with a like spirit and parting on a like errand, experienced similar miracles, thanks to ‘la dame, qui est salu de cors et d’ame.’

The Bretons, also, who were established at Chartres in the street called La Bretonnerie, met together and decided to go out together to Berchères-l’Évêque and bring back as their tribute a waggon-load of stone, a task in which none but a Breton born should take a hand. They set out, therefore, one evening, every man of them who could help with collar or trace, but ere they could regain the town with their burden the sun went down behind a thick bank of clouds there was no moon nor any light, but in marvellous wise an <148>obscure and dreadful night was upon them. The unhappy pilgrims soon lost their path, and wandered astray over the vast plains of La Beauce. Blind terror seized their hearts, but God sent three brands of flaming fire before them to lighten their way. Rejoicing and amazed, they regained the road to Chartres, whose iglise et la tour (church and the tower) were rendered visible by these heavenly torches. Then they deposited their offering and spread abroad the news of the miracle which they had beheld.

Of another sort was the marvellous deliverance of a rich merchant of Aquitaine, who, whilst he was bringing on his horse a barrel of oil for the lamps of Notre-Dame, was made prisoner by the English soldiers of Cœur-de-Lion. To him, in answer to his prayer, the Virgin appeared, and she enabled him to pass out of the prison into which he had been thrown, without the knowledge of his gaolers.

The fame of these and other wonders of the sort, narrated by the pilgrims and repeated by the inhabitants of the town, soon filled the countryside and spread to the more distant provinces. The renown of the Church of Chartres filled the land and reached beyond the seas. In La Beauce every hamlet was eager to contribute something to its glory. Those who had no possessions to offer gave their services loading and drawing vehicles: the roads were crowded with these humble servants of the Lord. The blind, the dumb, the lame and the halt awaited in each village the passing of the pilgrims and besought to be allowed to join their company. Rich and poor, all came to Chartres with their offerings, so that, in the words of the chronicler, money came to support the workmen, rather from the hand of Providence than human purses. [69]

The deduction of the historian from the legends of our Trouvère is one which we shall find illustrated by the Cathedral windows. It is, that this Cathedral is a popular and national monument, built by the free labour of the people gathered together freely from all parts of France, joining and rejoicing in the new democratic movement of the Communes, and recording, therefore, in stone and glass their new aspirations, their new dignity.

The Bovis Scale

You know that I receive an abundant and varied mail, all topics are covered. A reader a reader who is passionate about geobiology recently told me about a very powerful cosmo-telluric abbey. Much more powerful than the eye of the labyrinth of the cathedral of Chartres, he writes me. This surprising finding deserves some explanation.

There are two kinds of vril. The first, the cosmotelluric vril, exists in certain places and can easily be measured by all geobiologists. Variations will be recorded, but in reduced proportions. The second is the human vril. It is very variable from one subject to another, and it can interfere with the local cosmotelluric vril to the point of multiplying its power in considerable proportions.

In several articles, I mention the eye of the labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral as the highest vibrating point on the Bovis scale. He shares this privilege with the Lhasa Potala in Tibet. After reading my article written n reader wrote me this:

The energy flow observed in Chartres is considerable, it’s true, but I experimented

more powerful in the abbey of the Trinity of Vendôme. I did not expect it, I was just there and visiting it I took a slap energy in one of his chapels. Huge, at the limit of the bearable, wrote me a reader. I will not fail to go there if by chance my steps bring me closer to it.

Remember, the vibrant point of Chartres and Potala vibrates to 18,000 units Bovis (UB) on the classic scale. But wait for the next. I myself measured an absolutely considerable energy (3 to 4 times the labyrinth of Chartres and its equivalent the throne of the celebrant in Potala, Lhasa, Tibet) in the crypt of Notre-Dame de Lumières, then to the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, which are two places of miracles, with a vibratory rate greater than 44,000 UB, and which can peak at up to 60,000 UB.

An imposing monolith protects my corner of Brittany, the menhir of Guihalon. for twenty years, it has always had a vibratory rate higher than 20,000 UB. I went there five years ago with a witch doctor friend. We recorded a vibration that was well over 40,000 BU. This irresistible surge of energy manifested itself in a burst of warmth and happiness, a sensation that was quite delectable. Since then, energy has come down a bit. But it was an incredible experience.

Both vrils

How is it explained? First of all it is important to distinguish two kinds of vril energy: the cosmotelluric vril and the human vril.

The first, the cosmotelluric vril, exists in certain places independently of the observer. I also call it subtle energy. It can easily be measured by all geobiologists. Variations will be recorded between them, but in reduced proportions.

The second is the human vril, which I also call the energy of awakening. It is very variable from one subject to another, and it can interfere with the local cosmotelluric vril to the point of multiplying its power in considerable proportions. It is consistent with this fact that quantum physics postulates and verifies another fact: the observer influences what he observes to the point of distorting the observation.

The observed is by nature deceptive. It is different when no one observes it … but how can we be sure, since any observation of an unobserved phenomenon is by nature impossible. These devils of quantum physicists have proved this in enormous books full of indigestible equations for the common man, of which I am a part.

There is vril and vril. Feeling the difference is a matter of practice. There is often confusion between the local cosmo-telluric energy, independent of the person who perceives it, and the energy induced by the emotional or that induced by the psi power of the perceiver. Much lower rates could be measured by a “neutral” geobiologist.

In the kind of place my reader is talking about, it is imperative to make many visits by carefully noting the bovis rate at each session. It is also important to have these measures checked by a third person who is less sensitive or less emotionally involved.

At least that’s what I honestly believed, following an experience on the edge of the emotional and the energetic.

Our Lady of Lights

Some twenty-five years ago, I was on a magical journey with a haunting fairy, pretty Solenn. We were deeply in love, Solenn and me. Every landscape, with all its details, every new flower, every blade of grass was a subject of wonder.

Our footsteps gently led us to the Notre-Dame de Lumières abbey in Goult, Vaucluse. The place is not exceptional, neither in architecture nor in the setting. But when we arrived in the nave, facing the choir, we both felt an extraordinary breath of energy that left us panting. I pulled my pendulum out of my pocket and discreetly measured the vibratory rate of the place.

My clock made three turns of the dial. This church vibrated at a rate three times higher than the maximum rate, that of the labyrinth of Chartres. We slept in a quasi-monastic cell of the religious hospitality. Fabulous night on the wings of crazy love, enlightened tenderness and a sensuality of good quality. I recommend without reservation.

Back to my benefactor, I told him about this experience. He immediately deceived me. No point can exceed the free limit observed by several generations of geobiologists. It was then that he introduced the difference between pure vibratory rate, the one I call cosmo-telluric, and emotional vibration rate, ie the natural rate multiplied by the emotion or the energy of the one who the measure.

For more than twenty years, I remained convinced of it. I went several times to Lourdes, Vézelay, or Saint Benoit sur Loire. I did dozens of visits to the menhir of Guihalon, the Fairy Mirror in Brocéliande or the magic hill of Croquelien. The power of these places (and many others) has continued to amaze me.

Yet, whenever my measurements exceeded the fateful limit of 18,000 bovis, I told myself that it was emotional bovis, and I filed the file. In fact, I have not paid enough attention to the dramatic increase in the global vibration rate. Everything climbs, the level rises everywhere, including on the vibrating points. It was therefore necessary to consider the re-calibration of the Bovis scale.

The new bovis scale

What was true in the 70s is not true in 2010. Since then, extraordinary surges have been recorded that make the old measures obsolete. The solar flares follow one another at a steady pace, causing photon showers that boost the vibratory levels. Obviously, vibratory rates increase with time. In 2014, a new Bovis dial was developed. It is not final and will probably be revised up soon.

The new Bovis dial is graduated from 0 to 60,000 BU. Another version of this dial is up to 120 000 UB, as for the original dial which had a version at 18 000 UB and the other at 32 000 UB. With this new dial, the references for the three vibratory levels are as follows:

– Physical plane: 0 to 20 000 BU (instead of 0 to 10000 BU on the classical scale)
– Energy plane: 20,000 to 36,000 BU (instead of 10,000 to 14,000 BU)
– Spiritual plane: 36,000 to 60,000 BU (instead of 14,000 to 18,000 BU) (source)

If I measure the same levels, I can not accept this nomenclature which does not take into account the true subtle distribution of the levels of the unconscious according to the works of JCl Flornoy and myself. Here is the one I propose:

– Physical plane: 0 to 20,000 UB
– Emotional plane: 20,000 to 36,000 BU
– Energetic plane: 36,000 to 60,000 BU

For Flornoy, the energetic and the spiritual are two labels on the same bottle. On the other hand, the emotional is located between the physical plane and the spiritual or energetic plane. Finally, it does not change anything in the measurements. Just the name. It is important. The inner realities deserve a fair recognition.

Speaking of recognition, let us salute Mr. Bovis for the tremendous work he has done. This pioneer probably did not suspect that his research would help so many people around the world. And the craze for this research is just beginning.

Labyrinth Spirituality

Here in our town, the local Episcopal Church blessed their brand-new labyrinth catching up to a spiritual trend begun in the late 󈨞s. For those who are joyfully not on the cutting edge of new spiritualities, you may be wondering: What is a labyrinth? For those who know but do not know the history, here is the part of the history and my reflection on labyrinths. In an excellent 2000 Touchstone article, “The Maze Craze” by Mark Tooley , he answers:

It’s the latest fad in spirituality. Labyrinths, or maze-like circular walking paths intended for meditation, are appearing in hundreds of churches across the country from every denomination. Even hospitals, town squares, the Smithsonian Institution, and the US House of Representatives office building have opened their doors to the labyrinth .

Actually, a labyrinth is not literally a maze. Mazes have many paths, with dead ends and multiple destinations. A labyrinth consists of a single winding path that leads to the center. In the current craze,the labyrinthis usually printed on a piece of canvas thrown down on the floor of a church meeting hall. But more permanent labyrinths are constructed of raised earth, granite, or wood, sometimes at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Walkers of the labyrinth move through it in a meditative state.

Is the labyrinth inherently New Age or can orthodox Christians embrace it as an acceptable tool for prayer and meditation? The labyrinth has its origins in ancient pagan rituals, most famously at Knossosin ancient Crete , where one was located in the basement of the famous palace where the man-eating Minotaur was said to roam. The mythic hero Theseus journeyed through the labyrinth to slay the creature, which had a human body and the head of a bull. Theseus’s double-headed ax was called a “labrys,” hence the name. Other labyrinths in ancient cultures were tied to fertility rites and goddess worship.

But the example most enthusiasts cite is the labyrinth embedded in the floor of the medieval Chartres Cathedral inFrance. There is speculation, but seemingly no firm evidence, that ancient or medieval Christians literally walked through labyrinths, atChartres or elsewhere. Its advocates within the Christian Church today like to portray labyrinth walking as a “rediscovery” of a lost form of Christian spirituality.

Some proponents believe that medieval Christians walked through labyrinths as a substitute for pilgrimages to the Holy Land. To support their theory, they point to the placement of labyrinths on cathedral floors as opposed to walls or ceilings. Labyrinths in medieval cathedrals and churches almost certainly had symbolic meaning, although documentation is scarce to nonexistent. One possibility is that the ancient Greek myth was Christianized, so that the Minotaur represented the devil, and Theseus represented the victorious Christ. Doreen Prydes, a professor of medieval history at the University ofNotre Dame, says there is absolutely no evidence of labyrinth walking in the Middle Ages. She believes that Christians of that era saw the labyrinth has a symbol of redemption, not pilgrimage.

A Big Open House

The mother of the modern labyrinth movement is Lauren Artress, canon of Grace Cathedral inSan Francisco. In her public speaking, she is sometimes vague about the theological implications ofthe labyrinth, which she calls a “big spiritual open house.” Artress, who is also a psychotherapist, speaks more often in the lingo of Jungian psychotherapy than of traditional Christian practice. For her,the labyrinthis for the “transformation of human personality in progress” that can accomplish a “shift in consciousness as we seek spiritual maturity as a species.”

Artress says she walked her first labyrinth at a seminar in 1991 with psychologist and mystic/channeler Jean Houston, who several years ago assisted First Lady Hillary Clinton in trying to contactthe departed spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt. A subsequent visit toChartres Cathedral , where the medieval labyrinth can still be seen in the floor, further encouraged Artress to write her 1995 book,Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, and to launch her national movement, based at Grace Cathedral.

Having become canon pastor at Grace Cathedral in 1986, Artress established “Quest: Grace Cathedral Center for Spiritual Wholeness,” whose goal is to construct “understanding” between the traditional Church and “nontraditional forms of spirituality.” She calls her discovery of the labyrinth one of the “most astonishing events of my life.” For her,the labyrinth is a “spiritual tool meant to awaken us to the deep rhythm that unites us to ourselves and to the Light that calls from within.”

Artress had earlier studied with Houston in 1985. At a 1991 “MysterySchool” seminar hosted byHouston, Artress recalled that she was overcome with an “almost violent anxiety” as she stepped onto a labyrinth for the first time. Although assured byHoustonthat the ancient pathway would “lead each of us to our own center,” Artress said she knew immediately it would dramatically shake her life.

In her book, unlike her public speaking, Artress does not disguise her contempt for “fundamentalism” and the “religious right,” whose “literal interpretation of the Bible . . . breeds small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness.” Its supposed emphasis on following strict rules reminds her of the “shadow of the human spirit that led to Hitler and World War II.” Artress assures readers that she identifies with the “open-minded Christian church,” but confesses plainly that this tradition has lost its spiritual force. The Church must “forge a new identity.”

After returning from her visit to Chartres, Artress arranged for a labyrinth to be displayed at Grace Cathedral. It immediately drew thousands of San Franciscans to walk its path. Her book recounts that many spiritual seekers openly wept as they found inner healing. Others have even found physical healing from the labyrinth’s supposed power.

A Roman Catholic retreat center in Baltimore, run by an order of nuns, has a labyrinth where I was for a Lutheran retreat. I tried walking the labyrinth. I felt stupid. A few months ago when I hosted our monthly circuit meeting, one of the pastors was interested in a tour of Lexington. We walk by the labyrinth still under construction and our colleague volunteered that he thinks labyrinths are a good thing and he liked them. I countered, I don’t think so, they are all about me.

This type of “spirituality” is literally secular schwarmaism, as it is all centered on the ‘sacred’ Me walking around in circles going nowhere…well, actually, to the center of the labyrinth. And what is at the center? Nothing. No Bible, no altar, no table, no Crucifix, no icon, no pulpit…just emptiness. A labyrinth is all about one’s spiritual jollies and receiving the Holy Spirit apart from the Word…if it is even the Holy Spirit! In one sense, these labyrinths have taught me that apart from Verbum extra nos, that they are a perfect symbol of the denial of that Word: nothingness. As the Talking Heads sang, “We are on a road to nowhere, come on inside…” No thanks. I also find it frightening is that liberalized (secularized) Christianity in all it’s forms (Roman, evangelical etc) go hand in hand with the promulgation of labyrinths. The pilgrimage is still a better image of the Christian faith, going from this world to the next (John Bunyan).

I walk with Jesus all the way,
His guidance never fails me
Within His wounds I find a stay
When Satan’s power assails me
And by His footsteps led,
My path I safely tread.
In spite of ills that threaten may,
I walk with Jesus all the way. (TLH #413)

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Prayer Labyrinth

A labyrinth contains a single walking path to the center and then back out again. It has many turns but, unlike mazes, does not have dead ends. Labyrinths come in a variety of forms: you may walk through them inside on a canvas mat or outside on grass, tile, or a stone-laid path. There are also finger labyrinths and even an online labyrinth. Labyrinths have a long history, both inside and outside the church, and can be found all around the world.

In Christian usage, the purpose of the labyrinth is personal and spiritual transformation. One way to pray a labyrinth is to worship and praise God as you walk to the center, then intercede for people and concerns as you walk back to the outside. Today there are churches from many different denominations that encourage people to use labyrinths as part of their devotional practices.

We invite you to walk the labyrinth and pray. If you find that it helps you relax and concentrate on God, then good &ndash use it. If it doesn&rsquot help you, then use other prayer tools.

The labyrinth at our Lexington campus is located just off the walkway between the parking lot at 59 Worthen Road and our Adult Learning Center at 2 Militia Drive.


The earliest rock carvings 4,000 years ago included labyrinths. They have been found in art work, pottery, coins, and drawings around the world: India, East Afghanistan, early Rome, Ukraine, Iceland, Crete, Egypt, Sumatra, and even in Arizona.

In Greek mythology, the labyrinth was a maze in which a half man/half bull was held until killed by Theseus. Therefore, many understand the words &ldquomaze&rdquo and &ldquolabyrinth&rdquo as synonyms. However, current classifications of mazes typically refer to complex structures with multiple choices of path and direction, whereas labyrinths are defined as containing a single, non-branching path that leads to the center.

The two most common types of labyrinths are classical, which is made of 7 circuits, and medieval, which has a four-fold pattern and is typically composed of 11 circuits. The classical labyrinth is found on Cretan coins as early as 430 BC, and was often associated with the Labyrinth myth, though the classical model was not limited to that geographic area.

The first labyrinth used in a Christian context dates back to 324 AD in the Basilica of St. Reparatus in Algeria. While many other labyrinths featured an image of Theseus and the Minotaur in the center, this one contained the words &ldquoSancta Ecclesia&rdquo (Holy Church), thereby reminding Christians where their focus should be set.

Medieval labyrinths were first seen in the 9th and 10th centuries. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were used in manuscripts and on the walls and floors of churches in Italy. They were soon brought to southern and western Europe. The medieval labyrinth began to adopt a Christian symbolism and is typified in the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth. This stone-laid labyrinth was built in the floor of the church around 1200.

This transition from secular to sacred may have been incidental as culture found its way into the church 2 or an intentional choice by the church to use the mythological symbol as allegory 3 . Either way, use of labyrinths took on a distinctly Christian flavor in the Middle Ages. Medieval texts recount an Easter celebration in which a priest would walk the labyrinth and upon reaching the center, throw a yellow woolen ball back and forth to parishioners along the labyrinth&rsquos circumference, as they danced and chanted &ldquoPraises to the Easter Victim.&rdquo This evoked the myth in which Thesesus wandered the Labyrinth, guided by Ariadne&rsquos string, but was used as a metaphor for Christ&rsquos work of redemption. Christ (Theseus) lived in a sinful world (the Labyrinth and its dangers), defeated Satan (the Minotaur), triumphed over death, and offers His salvation (golden string) to all who are ready to receive it.

Labyrinth use in the Middle Ages took on a number of other Christian interpretations. Some viewed it as a representation of the Christian life, full of many turns, but leading towards redemption. Others used it as a substitute for pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Still others purportedly traveled the path of the labyrinth on their knees, reciting prayers written on the floor. (These last two practices date closer to the Renaissance).

Turf labyrinths became very popular in England between the late Middle Ages through the 19th century. Many were found on village greens or commons, often near churches, but others were located on hilltops. There are 8 surviving historic turf labyrinths in England from this time period. Around the same time, hedge mazes gained popularity across Europe.

Around the 17th and 18th centuries, church officials of the French Gothic cathedrals destroyed a number of the ecclesiastical labyrinths, noting that they had become a diversion rather than a sacred experience. The labyrinths at Chartres, Saint-Quentin, Saint-Omer, and Gand were the only French labyrinths to survive this purge.

Through their history, labyrinths have been used for a variety of purposes. They were not originally a Christian invention, and have therefore been used in a variety of pagan rituals: trapping evil spirits 5 , protection from bad circumstances and insurance of good luck 6 , fertility rites, and goddess worship 7 . As noted above, they were also used for amusement. Some non-religious applications included: a test of skill for riders on horseback, a children&rsquos game 8 , a place in which suitors could chase their potential bride 9 , a dancing ground 10 , use during fairs and holidays 11 , and as a garden feature 12 .

Today, interest in and construction of labyrinths has resurfaced. As in the past, some use it as a sacred tool (whether Christian or otherwise), and others as an amusement.

Is the labyrinth for the Christian Church today?

The labyrinth did not find its origins in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it has been used for non-Christian purposes throughout the ages. Does it have a place in today&rsquos evangelical church? Given its uses and misuses, how should Christians approach it?

Though the labyrinth was not invented by Christians, it has been used by Christians over many centuries. The first documented church use of the labyrinth was in 324 AD, at the Basilica of St. Reparatus in Algeria. While some cultures used the labyrinth to trap evil spirits or for fertility rites, the church used it to remind Christians of the forgiveness and redemption found in Jesus, and a reminder of our walk with and towards God.

Today, as in the past, some use labyrinths for distinctly non-Christian purposes. For example, New Age enthusiasts may walk the labyrinth with an intentionally empty mind, or to connect with their chakras, or to experience oneness with Mother Nature and the universe. Others use labyrinths for reasons that are neither intentionally Christian nor contrary to Christ&rsquos teachings. One might call these &ldquoneutral&rdquo intentions: to think, relieve stress, or grieve a loved one.

Christians can choose to walk the labyrinth in an intentionally Christ-centric way, in prayer, reflection on Scripture, and/or listening to God. Labyrinth prayer is by no means an essential Christian discipline, but many find it useful in focusing their thoughts on God and minimizing physical or mental distractions while praying and listening to God.

How to Use the Labyrinth in Your Prayer Time

While there are no specific &ldquorules&rdquo to walking the labyrinth, the following guidelines can be useful:

1. Intentionally offer this time up to the Lord. If there is a particular issue weighing on your heart or a direction you feel God leading you, be ready to include this topic in your walk.

2. On the walk inward, you might meditate on a Scripture passage, or talk and listen to God about a particular topic or question. Give your cares and distractions over to Him. God is with you in this walk and in your daily walk with Him.

3. When you arrive in the center, rest and rejoice in the Lord&rsquos presence. God longs to be the center of your life.

4. On the walk outward, think about how you will take what God is saying to you back into your daily life. Thank God that He will be with you even after this time of retreat.

5. Process and reflect on your experience in the labyrinth. You may want to write, draw, or share your thoughts with a friend.

Watch the video: A Possessed Nuns Letter From The Devil (January 2022).