The labyrinth at the entry of the Department of Art and Art History represents a miniature replica of the 13th-century artistic motif featured on the floor of the great Gothic cathedral in Chartres, France.
The medieval fascination with labyrinths was inspired by ancient prototypes, the most famous coming from Greek mythology where Daedalus builds a labyrinth for King Minos at Knossos to house the Minotaur. The labyrinth also shares qualities with eastern mandalas as a symbol of sacred geometry. Gothic builders incorporated the labyrinth into many Catholic churches of Europe (i.e., Amiens), recasting it as an instrument of pilgrimage and prayer. The pilgrim followed 11 winding circuits set inside four quadrants culminating in a rosette center. In this manner, the pilgrim was able to embark upon a spiritual journey to Jerusalem right in the local church structure itself.
The incorporation of this art historical motif in the visual arts district of campus not only connects Providence College to a long and rich tradition of sacred spaces and iconography, but provides a beautiful stopping point for admissions tours, gallery visitors, alumni, and current faculty, staff, and students.