Dedication of a Reims-Style Labyrinth

This dedication was written by Nickie Jantzer.
It is used with her permission.
Please contact Nickie if you would like to use this copyrighted material.

The Reims-style labyrinth that we have gathered to dedicate includes many Christian messages.  The most obvious is its octagonal shape, the shape of many Baptismal fonts in the Catholic/Christian Churches.  It signifies the death of the former person and the spiritual rebirth of a new one… ‘new life in Christ’ and transformation…important aspects of the labyrinth, as well.

There is also a central cross in the design.  We try to keep Christ at the center of all we think, do, and say while on the labyrinth.  The four bastions in each corner are each octagonal as well…again, space for rebirth.  Each is dedicated to an Arch-angel and we ask for their special protection for each corner.

  • We ask for Uriel’s protection in the Southern corner, where we will seek the direction of our lives in alignment with God’s will.
  • We ask for Michael’s – (warrior) – protection in the Western corner, where we will ask for the release of burdens and protection from temptations.
  • We ask for Gabriel’s – (messenger) – protection in the Northern corner, where we will offer prayers for loved ones.
  • We ask for Raphael’s –(healer) – protection in the Eastern corner, where we will seek healing and forgiveness.

There is a 7 circuit labyrinth nested inside the 11 circuit labyrinth.  Seven is often called the “Christ number” and has been held as a sacred number in many religions for centuries. In the Catholic/Christian faith, we note that on the 7th day God rested…the Sabbath…there seven days of the week…seven sacraments, etc.

There is a path that splits out between the outer three paths that form the total 11 circuit labyrinth.  It can symbolize our broken-ness as humans, and our need to surround ourselves with the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…it is our protection and through the grace of God, we can find the way to peace and healing.

Walking the labyrinth mirrors the paths of the saints, as they grew closer to God.  The path towards the center is like their path of purgation…where we shed/purge the distractions, the noise, the busy-ness of our lives…we quiet ourselves and try to walk with Jesus towards God.

Once in the center, we seek ‘Communion’  with God…’ illumination’…uniting our hearts with His…listening to Him…that still, quiet voice that will show us what His will is for us.

Walking out of the labyrinth, we walk a path of ‘transformation’.  What did I learn from this experience?  How can I take this message and live, love, and serve, more like Christ?

Walking the path of the saints, with the help of the Trinity (outer three paths) and our Guardian angels (four corners), we will draw closer to Christ (inner 7 paths), who will ultimately bring us to God the Father (the center).

Many of the labyrinths, especially the ones in many Notre Dame Cathedrals of France, that were built in the Middle Ages, between the 1100s and the 1600s, were designed by architects that honored God as the perfect architect.  It has been suggested that the labyrinth would be like their signature on the particular house of worship that they designed.  On the floor pavement, the four main architects of the R(h)eims Cathedral are denoted in each of the four corners, with the tools of their trade.  The compass is shown with one; as God is shown, with a compass in early artwork, to show the perfection of His creation.

Its primary use was during the Easter Season, where the clergy (bishops, archbishops, cannon, choir boys, etc) of the cathedral, would recreate much like our modern-day “Passions of Christ”…they would start the processions at the back of the church where most of the labyrinths were placed. Once at the labyrinth, perform a liturgical dance that reminded the believers of Christ’s descent into hell after his crucifixion and his battle for three days with Satan.  It would remind them also, of the many twists and turns of life…temptations…their journey to salvation.  Often this drama was presented with specific liturgical music, perhaps even composed by the cannon of the cathedral.

Also, at this time, it was the goal of many Christians, to try and achieve in their lifetime, a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands…to Jerusalem.  The Crusades made it very difficult and dangerous for travel to the Holy sites, but by walking the labyrinths, they could make this journey symbolically. (rather like our Stations of the Cross today). The R(h)eims labyrinth was built and designed c.1290 and could have served this very purpose.  It is stated in Bulletin Monumental 22 (1856) by Louis Paris, “that while proceeding along the path, believers said prayers from a special prayer book published in R(h)eims with the title: Stations au Chemin de Jerusalem, qui se voit en l’eglise de Notre-Dame de Reims (Stations along the Path to Jerusalem to be found in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Reims).

Its placement in the nave of the church was also crucial.  The floor plan was called cruciform (in the shape of a cross) and the labyrinth is situated respectively where Christ’s feet were nailed to the cross of crucifixion (at R(h)eims, specifically between the 3rd and 4th bays, numerically significant, 3+4=7). Again, this is attributed to the architects trying to honor God as the perfect architect…they used much symbolism.

As we dedicate this labyrinth, let us remember this history and our connection to it.

We dedicate this labyrinth to Your glory, God, and the spiritual wholeness of all who come.

We read in Revelation 21:3 (NRSV), “See, the home of God is among mortals.”

We pray that those who use this labyrinth will experience Your presence, O Christ.

We read in Revelation 21:4 that God “…will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Christ, we ask that all those who come to the labyrinth in pain will receive what is needed from You.

In Revelation 21:5 God declared, “I am making all things new.”

For the courage to pray for fresh starts, we ask Your Grace, O Christ.

In Revelation 21:6 God states, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”

Christ, may this labyrinth path, where the beginning is also the end, teach us to see, think and feel the unity of all You have created and all You are.

In Revelation 21:6 God also promises, “To the thirsty, I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” 

Christ, may all who come to this labyrinth be satisfied by meeting with You here.

In Revelation 21:23 we read, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Christ, may those who experience this labyrinth be illumined by Your presence.  May Your light shine in them and through them.

Thank you for gifting us and all who will come after us, with a sacred space where we can experience Your love as safety, rest, patience, kindness, goodness, hope, and healing. Please guide and bless our steps, Lord.  We offer these prayers in Your name, Jesus. Amen.

*This blessing and these scriptures have been adapted from Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion’s book, Christian Prayer and Labyrinths (Cincinnati: Pilgrim Press, 2004), using  (NRSV) – Catholic text.

Additional note:

At R(h)eims, the most prominent canon was Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377), a French composer and poet, who wrote several motets that may or may not have been written specifically for the labyrinth.  In researching his life and the times, he was very familiar with the labyrinth from his work in other Notre Dame Cathedrals (Amiens, Arras, and St. Quentin), and his musical works seem to correspond to it.  Motets 1-17 share many qualities of the labyrinth…with 1-7 (Bipartite) relating with the coming in to the labyrinth; 8-10 (reversing Unipartite and Bipartite) being in the center, specifically 9,  the very center of the work, referring to ‘Lucifer/dragon’ below (recalling Christ’s battle with Satan and our own battles with temptation) and 11-17 (Unipartite); relating to the going out.  The wording indicating that the traveler ends up where he began.   This is also the theme for a specific motet, “Ma fin est mon commencement”, (My beginning is my end.)

He also is credited with composing the first entire polychant Mass for Notre Dame.

A CD is available should you desire to walk while listening to the polychant motets.

For more information regarding scheduling a walk…

Contact – Nickie Jantzer 678-860-6425 or 770-716-5425; Fayetteville, GA