The beautifully constructed Cathedral Labyrinth, in New Harmony, Indiana, was inspired in design, by the famous labyrinth in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, in Chartres, France. It was built to honor the memories and contributions to society made by the Owen family, the European-born citizenry of New Harmony.
The Cathedral Labyrinth was dedicated in 1997, and since then, many visitors have continued to arrive throughout the year, to traverse the granite pathways, often in their bare feet, which is encouraged. Near the granite labyrinth is a limestone bench, incorporated into a beautiful fountain, where cascading water provides a place to wash their feet when their walk is finished. The fountain feature only works during warm seasons, but the labyrinth is open for visitors to make use of all year.
Rocks, decorative fencing and a beautiful mixture of flowers, trees and sculpture, are set in such a way for them to embrace this labyrinth and its visitors, providing an aesthetic blend of architectural and natural elegance. The Cathedral Labyrinth, encased by the Sacred Gardens, can easily be rated as one of the most beautiful labyrinths in the world.
For me, a local who has been privileged to grow up in the area, it is but one of the many stunning jewels to be appreciated in this magnificent village, and yet another reminder of its important and fascinating history.
I have come to regard the Cathedral Labyrinth as one of those places where one can go and linger, and come away feeling refreshed mentally, physically and even spiritually. It is the sort of place that opens the mind’s door to creativity, positive thinking and appreciation for the many blessings of life that often go unnoticed. It makes for a wonderful place to both meditate and pray in an environment of natural beauty.
Guests with children should be respectful and mindful that the Cathedral Labyrinth is not a place for frolicking and noisy play, yet that in no way diminishes it from being a wonderful place to bring young ones. Both the spiritual importance of its history, as well as the important contributions of the people it was built to honor, are well worth incorporating into a child’s education During Fall and Spring it is not uncommon to encounter visiting students of all ages arriving to study the labyrinth, and other significant sites in the village.
The labyrinth is just across the street from the famous Roofless Church, and easily within walking distance of the five-star Red Geranium Restaurant and Hotel. In the woods behind the hotel are numerous woodsy-paths, laid out for walkers. There are also trails for off-road cyclists, which is a plus, in that many public park areas prohibit off road cycling. New Harmony, in yet another way, goes against the grain and has made a sterling area for mountain bikers to ride, in a beautiful setting along the Wabash River. The area also has many beautiful gardens and sparkling ponds for guests to enjoy.
The entire village is easily toured on foot, or on bicycle. But, for those who enjoy open and airy vehicles, there are golf-carts available for rent, which are legal to be driven in the village streets, and parked on roadsides. The entire place is a photographer’s paradise, so I encourage all visitors to bring their cameras and plan for some beautiful and memorable shots. Also, you can keep your wallet safe in your purse or pocket. There is no charge for touring many of the awesome sites in New Harmony, and the Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Gardens are one of the many for which there is no charge.