Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A complicated arrangement of paths and passages; or a place, usually subterraneous, full of windings, corridors, rooms, etc., so intricately arranged as to render the getting out of it a very difficult matter.

The labyrinth as an architectural term derives its name from the famous ancient or mythical labyrinths of Crete and Egypt. Geometrical figures composed of various pieces of coloured marbles and so disposed as to form labyrinths were frequently found in the pavements of French cathedrals and so-called labyrinthes de pavé . The finest remaining example is in the centre of the nave of Notre Dame, Chartres, and a person following the various windings and turns of the figure would walk nearly 800 feet before he arrived at the centre, although the circumference does not exceed thirteen yards. Similar labyrinths formerly existed at Notre Dame, Paris, at the cathedral of Reims, and at Amiens. This latter was only taken up in the latter part of the last century, and the centre stone (which is octangular and was formerly inlaid with brass imagery) is still preserved in the museum of that city. These labyrinths were supposed to have originated in a symbolical allusion to the Holy City, and certain prayers and devotions doubtless accompanied the perambulation of their intricate mazes.

In modern times, generally a fantastic arrangement of lofty and thick hedges in a garden as at Hampton Court, where it is difficult to find one's way to the centre.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 30th, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter