Heritage Website – Labyrinth

Labyrinths represent the idea of a spiritual journey, and are now frequently used in both cathedrals and parish churches for personal prayer and reflection. The unique design of this labyrinth was specially created for St Mary's to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the church
in 2003.

'Mystic Rose' Labyrinth

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is a pathway which winds from edge to centre and back again. It has no false turns or dead ends like a maze, and the person walking it uses the same path to return; the entrance then becomes the exit.

Who invented it?

Labyrinths have occurred in different cultures for over 3,500 years all over the world. The Egyptians and Romans employed them as symbols of a sacred centre or city, and in a Christian context they were used as a substitute for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Jerusalem.

In medieval Europe, the labyrinth represented the Christian faith, the one true path to eternal salvation. They were constructed in coloured stone or tiles and are still to be found in the great early medieval churches and cathedrals of northwest Europe, the most famous being that in Chartres Cathedral in France.

What is the Shoreham 'Mystic Rose' labyrinth?

The design of this labyrinth is a reworking of the ancient concept, retaining the winding path used for a contemplative purpose but drawing it with a new significance – in this case the shape of a rose, a traditional symbol of the Virgin Mary, the medieval 'Mystic Rose', to whom this church has been dedicated for 900 years.

This labyrinth was designed and painted by Maggie Organ, local artist and sculptor, between November 2006 and May 2007 as a gift to St Mary's. Although only dimly aware of labyrinths before and never having walked one, Maggie had a vision of a winding path which followed the shape of the petals of a flower, finally arriving at the centre.

This fitted perfectly with our hope of creating a new labyrinth for St Mary's which would be quite distinct from the Chartres design and those which followed it.

How was it made?

Maggie made her first scale design on paper to the exact proportions of St George's Chapel where the labyrinth was to be installed and then transferred this onto heavy-weight canvas which had been ready coated with a surface suitable for paint. She worked in acrylics with small brushes as though painting a picture, and the resulting brush strokes add much to the texture and shading of the whole piece.

The labyrinth was dedicated by the Bishop of Chichester on June 1st 2007 as part of the 'Walking the Way' exhibition in the Adur Festival that year. It was warmly received by church members and visitors alike and has been in regular use for the Festival and other occasions since then.

How do we use it today?

It is a used as a walking meditation, a way to finding your own spiritual centre. The labyrinth invites you to walk in peace, free your mind from everyday concerns and to calm your spirit. It is a tool for illuminating your path through life, wherever you are on your journey of faith.

How do I walk it? Are there any rules?

There is no 'required' way to walk the labyrinth. Move at a pace which feels right for you and remember that it is impossible to get lost – only one fixed path leads to the centre and back again.

You may want to read the leaflet provided before you start, or take a prayer card with you – do collect one from the table in the chapel.

How shall I feel after walking the labyrinth?

Each labyrinth walk is different and sometimes people feel nothing at all. But new insights may come out of the walk, and people can find themselves beginning to release old attitudes and be more fully aware of the opportunities of the present moment.

Labyrinth Prayer Leaflet

View the Labyrinth prayer leaflet as a
PDF (103 KB) (right-click to download)

Designer Maggie Organ at centre of labyrinth

Designer Maggie Organ at the centre of the labyrinth
in St George's Chapel

Starting to paint the labyrinth

Starting to paint the labyrinth

Adding the gold petals

Adding the gold petals

Ready for 'Prayers around the Labyrinth at Sunset'

Ready for 'Prayers around the Labyrinth at Sunset'