Categorized | Campus Life, Entertainment

Relax, journey through history

The Labyrinth event at UWF will be an exact replica of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres in France, pictured above. The historical monument boasts more visitors yearly than the Eiffel Tower. (Photo special to The Voyager)

Editor’s note:Due to conflicts, this event has been cancelled.

The History Department of UWF is bringing a piece of European culture to campus.

UWF will host its second Labyrinth event from April 15 through 18 in the University Commons Auditorium. The event is open to all students, staff, faculty and community members at no charge. The last time UWF hosted this event was in 2009.

The event, designed by Marie-Therese Champagne, assistant professor of history, will demonstrate to attendees a Christian practice from Medieval times.

A large canvas, borrowed from the Episcopal Diocese of the Gulf Coast will be rolled out onto the auditorium floor, covering it completely. Painted on the canvas is a labyrinth pattern. Its spiral design is uniquely structured for people to walk in it from start to finish.

It may look like a maze, but the design has one route with no dead-ends.

The pattern on the canvas is an exact replica of the labyrinth laid out on the stone floor of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres in France in 1200 A.D.

Walking the Labyrinth in Gothic cathedrals symbolized Catholic pilgrimages to Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages, labyrinth designs were also created outdoors, using stones. The spiral design provides a set path for a symbolic spiritual pilgrimage.

The design starts with zigzags until it opens up to a circular space in the center of the design. This space symbolizes the arrival in Jerusalem. Only one way leads a person out of the design, ending the journey.

Although it was used for religious practices in the past, “The Labyrinth Event” can also be used for relaxation and meditation. Healthcare institutes and churches today are re-creating labyrinths to use as a tool in both, Champagne said.

“I really enjoyed the event last time, because not only was it great hands-on learning, but it was also a quiet, contemplative place to escape end-of-semester stresses,” said office administrator of the history department, Katie Asbell.

The auditorium will be relatively quiet with incense, candles and French music from the thirteenth century to give participants the full effect of the history and the journey. More than one participant will walk the Labyrinth at once, but people will be far enough apart from each other to be able to experience the Labyrinth peacefully.

Champagne said, “I hope people will see the value in history, if nothing else.”

It takes 30 minutes to walk the labyrinth, but chairs will be provided in the auditorium for participants who want to take longer. Everyone who walks the labyrinth is required to either take their shoes off or wear shoe covers.

On April 15, the event will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. On April 16 and 17, it will run from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On April 18, it will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A special presentation that explains the history of the design based on carvings will be made on April 18 by Champagne and Jane Halonen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Emily Hales
Staff Writer 

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