Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The labyrinth. Is it traditional?

A Catholic high school web page says: "Students also have classroom experiences centered on Catholic traditions such as the Stations of the Cross, The Rosary, Meditation and The Labyrinth."

Is the labyrinth a Catholic tradition? Even the founder of modern labyrinth movement, Lauren Artress, doesn't claim this. See this article. Not all articles are as critical. See, for instance, this article, which points out that the labyrinth was originally a symbol of Hell and the need for redemption, but then claims that in the Middle Ages the labyrinths were later used as substitute pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Neither article is well documented, although the first one says, "Doreen Prydes, a professor of medieval history at the University of Notre Dame, says there is absolutely no evidence of labyrinth walking in the Middle Ages. She believes that Christians of that era saw the labyrinth as a symbol of redemption, not pilgrimage." The second article also warns about a false, pagan/new age use of labyrinths, but says they can be used properly as substitutes for a holy land pilgrimage.

So, should the high school have equated the labyrinth with the rosary? What do you think?

1 comment:

Joe said...

I wouldn't have equated the Labyrinth was the Rosary. There is no question that the Rosary is a traditional, established, Christian devotion. As you point here, it is unclear what the Labyrinth is supposed to be. As far as whether use of the labyrinth is legitimate for Christians, I guess you'd have to look at the concrete devotions that people use.