The History of the Labyrinth
The labyrinth has been a symbol for the spiritual journey for almost 4,000 years: the oldest labyrinth that could be walked is thought to have been built in Egypt by King Amenemhet III about 1800 BCE. Labyrinths were quickly incorporated into early Christianity: the earliest known Christian labyrinth is found in the 4th century basilica of Reparatus, Algeria. It was in medieval Christianity, however, that the practice of walking the labyrinth really took root. In those days, pilgrimage was an important discipline and expression of faith: many Christians prepared for years to take a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Jerusalem, or to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Scholars believe that labyrinths were carved into the stone floors of medieval cathedrals to give Christians an experience of pilgrimage when political instability made a journey to a distant sacred site too dangerous. One never left the walls of the cathedral, yet the interior dimension of the pilgrimage was still available.
Zion’s labyrinth is modeled after perhaps the most famous of these medieval labyrinths, which is laid in the stone floor of the cathedral in Chartres, France. It was built between 1215-1221 CE; legend has it that this design was part of King Solomon’s Temple and was carried to France by the Knights Templar.
Our labyrinth at Zion was built in 2019. After years of patient prayer and planning by Merrill Tomlinson Carinci, the labyrinth was built by Alexander Hom as part of his Eagle Scout project. Alexander’s scout troop, local tradesmen, and volunteers from the parish all pitched in. It is a tremendous gift to us, and we hope that whole community will share in it.