Most popular with churches is the Chartres labyrinth pattern. It originated in the early Middle Ages specifically to incorporate Christian meaning and symbolism. The most elegant and best-known version of the medieval pattern is the one found in Chartres Cathedral, France. It was built in 1201 and is still in existence. Other Gothic cathedrals had labyrinths, but they were generally removed when the floors were renovated. Due to its size, the canvas Chartres labyrinth is divided into three sections which are connected by Velcro. The outer sections weigh about 30 pounds each, while the center section is about 40 pounds. One or two people can unfold and connect the Chartres labyrinth in ten minutes. The Velcro only fits together in one way, running vertical to the entrance, with the lines of the pattern showing the proper alignment.
The Petite Chartres is a round, 7-circuit labyrinth designed to be a look-alike substitute for the full Chartres labyrinth. Being 20 to 24 feet in diameter, it can fit into smaller rooms. Standard size is 24-feet in diameter. The Petite Chartres has off-set entrance paths, central petals and lunations, just as with the Chartres pattern. However, there are fewer circuits (7 concentric circular paths) and fewer lunations.
The Chartres Essence is a round, 7-circuit labyrinth with elements resembling the Chartres labyrinth. Typically, it is 24 feet in diameter. The biggest drawback for a smaller labyrinth is not the size of the paths, but rather, the small size of the center, which accommodates few people. To remedy this, the Chartres Essence has a center the same size as a full Chartres pattern, almost one-third of the diameter. This proportion allows it to serve a larger number of people at the same time. The entrance is also the most like the full Chartres, simply having one turn in each quadrant rather than a pair of turns.
The Classical 7-circuit labyrinth pattern is the oldest and most prevalent of the labyrinth designs. It is at least 4,000 years old and can be found all over the world. During the last twenty-five years, there has been a resurgence of interest in labyrinths in the United States, in both religious and secular contexts. Generally speaking, churches choose the Chartres labyrinth designs, because of its association with Gothic cathedrals. Secular and generic uses, however, often use the classical design. Variations include the pure Classical with path-width center and the round concentric that allows for a larger center area.
Heart of Chartes
At 12 feet in diameter, the Heart of Chartres labyrinth is a petite personal-sized labyrinth suitable for use in homes, small chapels, classrooms, etc. Popular with children and adults alike. The pattern consists of five circuits, derived from the five inner circuits of the Chartres pattern. Since it is a variation, the petals and lunations are stylized