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Chartres Cathedral and Labyrinth...A Stephen King Horror Story, Sort of...Chapter 1

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The cathedral in Chartres, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, has a very strong hold on my soul.
The labyrinth in the cathedral has an even stronger hold on my soul for some reason that I cannot explain.

My first trip to Paris in 2005 gave me the long-dreamed-of chance to take the train to Chartres and spend the day in the most glorious of cathedrals, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres. It was a dream come true for me to be blessed enough to go there.

I can no more explain why this labyrinth casts such a spell on my heart any more than I can explain how I breathe even when I'm sleeping. My kids, when they were little, would tell you that it happened because "God did it!" That was their explanation for every unexplainable occurence in their everyday lives. There may be some truth to that, on second thought. I'm not sure, I only know that it is like coming home to walk into that cathedral, step onto the labyrinth and begin to walk the path worn down by millions of people over thousands of years who have walked it before me.


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Friday is the only day that you can walk the ages old labyrinth, because of the wear and tear that so many feet create for the ancient stones that make up the form of the labyrinth. I am only in Paris for one Friday that isn't otherwise taken up with spending time with my granddaughter, so I've set today aside for this return visit.

Walking to Gare du Montparnasse early in the morning, I'm in a very thoughtful mood. I wonder what it will be like for me to visit the cathedral and walk the labyrinth for the second time. It was a very emotionally-charged experience the first time I spent a day there. I walked the labyrinth twice that day, once when we first arrived and later on in the afternoon, a second time just before we took the train back to Paris. You can read about that day on my trip report that is posted on Slowtrav. Here's the link:
http://http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/tripreport.asp?tripid=926&index=25

The train trip to Chartres takes an hour, and then we are there. Walking from the station to the cathedral is a few minutes...5 at most. All you have to do is follow the crowd, but today there are only a handful of us heading that way, so I have plenty of time to look at the streets and the shops as we walk. The city of Chartres takes pride in their landscaping and the appearance of this pretty city shows such attention to detail...the Tourist Information Center is exquisitely landscaped...take a look at these images of the flower displays...

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After arriving at the courtyard in front of the tourist info center, I have my first glimpse of what feels like an old and dear friend. The cathedral is shrouded in part with scaffolding and the attendant draping...there is a major restoration underway! What a joy to see this happening. The last time I was here a few years ago, there was a fundraising drive underway to make the restoration possible and it looks like they've found some money!

Here are a couple of images that will show you the difference between the cathedral before restoration and cleaning and what it looks like afterwards...

Before...
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After...

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Quite a difference, isn't it?

To be continued on the next blog page...

"Even before this early Gothic cathedral was built, Chartres had long been a place of pilgrimage. When ergotism (more popularly known in the Middle Ages as "St. Anthony's fire") afflicted many victims, the crypt of the original church became a hospital to care for the sick."

According to legend, since 876 the Cathedral's site has housed a tunic that was said to have belonged to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Sancta Camisia. The relic had supposedly been given to the Cathedral by Charlemagne who received it as a gift during a crusade in Jerusalem.

In fact, the relic was a gift from Charles the Bald and it has been asserted that the fabric came from Syria and that it had been woven during the first century AD." ~ Wikipedia

Before restoration...
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Comments (3)

Those are some great photos, Brenda. Hope the tour lived up to your expectations ;)
oh, and Welcome home.
Karen

Thank you, Karen!
It did, it did!
Great to be away...great to be home. I love sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, talking to my family and friends...lovely to be home!
Au 'voir,
Brenda

I am following right along~ thanks for the glass of champagne!
Next?

Next is up today!
Thank you so much for reading and for your always welcome comments!
Au 'voir,
Brenda

'talking to your friends'? ahem!
K

yep, I think so!
Au 'voir,
Brenda

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