The Chartres Labyrinth and Mary (11) The Life of Christ Window


How often we walk without awareness. Above the labyrinth in Chartres is a twelfth-century image of Jesus blessing. Mary*, the sun (Jesus’ right at the level of Jesus’ heart), the moon (Jesus’ left), and two angels seem to offer support as they surround him. When I look up from the labyrinth I remember that God’s love often seems invisible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t present.

My prayer

For a greater sensitivity to Your Presence, I pray.

Biblical touchstones (NRSV)

Mary and Jesus at the top of the Life of Christ Window (12th century)

Praise God, sun and moon; praise God, all you shining stars! Psalm 148:3

The New Jerusalem 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. Revelation 21:23

Invitation to prayer

When was the last time you sensed God’s blessing? Remember what happened and what feelings it evoked. As you do, what prayers are emerging in your heart, mind, body, and imagination? Pray them now.

Photo and placement of this image in relationship to the labyrinth

*John and Odette Kelley-Laporte in Le Labyrinthe Déchiffré describe a relationship between the light entering the cathedral through the west central lancet window on the feast days of Mary (the Dormition on August 13, 1194 or the Asuumption on August 15th of that year) during the construction the church that determined where the labyrinth was placed, and thus the geometry of the entire cathedral. See Chartres: Le Labyrinthe Déchiffré: Éditions Jean-Michel Garnier, 1997 (63-65).

Mary and Jesus at the Top of the Life of Christ Window

Jesus sitting on Mary’s lap (Seat of Wisdom/Sedes Sapientiae). The sun is on Jesus’ right, the moon on his left. The image is in the center and at the top of  the Life of Christ window. This twelfth century stained glass window is in the center of the west wall, directly under the rose of the Chartres Cathedral in France. This image is visible from all those places in the labyrinth where the walker is facing west. As one leaves the center the labyrinth, and on all the straight sections of the pathway as one returns to the threshold, the window and Mary are fully visible.

Labyrinth and West Wall

Related Posts:

To the east of the labyrinth:
The apsidal image of Mary as a throne for Jesus who is sitting on her lap blessing on the top of the East central window (above the choir).
The Annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary in the East central window (above the choir).
The Visitation of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth in the East central window (above the choir).

To the west of the labyrinth:
Mary in the Tree of Jesse (Ancestors of Jesus). Twelfth century window (1140-1150) on the north side of the west wall.

The Annunciation in The Life of Christ Window. Twelfth century window (1145-1155), the central window on the west wall.
The Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth in the Life of Christ Window.
The Nativity: Mary, Jesus and Joseph in the Life of Christ Window.
The Kings Visit Jesus and Mary in the life of Christ Window.
The Flight Into Egypt: Mary, Jesus and Joseph in the Life of Christ Window
The Return from Egypt: The Holy Family in the Life of Christ Window



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