The Cathedral offers opportunities to walk the labyrinth on the last Tuesday of each month as part of the Cathedral Labyrinth Walks program.
While the labyrinth is an ancient pattern that pre-dates Christianity, it was adopted as a decorative motif by churches quite early and soon became a symbol used for meditation and prayer. There are finger labyrinths carved into the stone walls of churches in the Mediterranean dating back to the 4th century. These well-worn designs tell the story of generations of worshipers who would trace the patterns with their fingers before entering church for prayer and worship.
In the Middle Ages, cathedrals in Europe began to construct larger labyrinths, inlaid in floors of the nave or outbuildings of the churches. These larger labyrinths were walked or even danced during special services, such as during the celebration of Easter morning. The labyrinth in the floor of the nave at Chartres Cathedral in France is the most well-known of the medieval designs and is the pattern used in the canvas replicas at Washington National Cathedral. The Chartres labyrinth is composed of eleven circuits or paths and is divided into four quadrants, clearly defined by a cross. The center of the labyrinth is a six petal rose-shaped area for resting, prayer, or meditation.
How to Walk the Labyrinth
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Some people walk with the intention of addressing an issue in their lives, others to pray and meditate. It is helpful to pause before you enter to center your thoughts on your intention.
Walk between the lines of the circuit, being aware that you are sharing the labyrinth with others. You may pass other walkers, or let them step around you. When you reach the center, take as long as you’d like to pause, reflect, pray, and receive insight. Walking the same path back out of the labyrinth allows for time to consider how to carry the experience back into the world.
Walking the labyrinth is a prayer practice that invites us to slow down, pay attention, and fully engage our minds, bodies, and spirits as we open ourselves up to the presence of the Holy.
6:30 – 8:30 pm – Labyrinth walks with music in the nave; silent walk in St. Joseph’s Chapel
6:30 – 7:30 pm – Laying on of hands for healing in Holy Spirit Chapel
8:15 pm – Compline (Night time prayers) in the Great Choir
Upcoming Cathedral Labyrinth Walks – 6:30 – 8:30 pm
- August 30 – No labyrinth walk in August as the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage is closed for its summer sabbatical
- September 27
- October 25
- November 29
- December 27