One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Chartres Cathedral in France impressed me greatly with its beauty and holiness. It is one of the best-preserved cathedrals in existence, despite fires in the early years of its construction and wars in its vicinity.
The design of the cathedral revolves around the floor plan in the shape of a cross. Also, a labyrinth covers the floor in the center. The original purpose of the labyrinth is not known for certain; it is likely that its long, winding path symbolized a spiritual journey for pilgrims.
An earlier church burned down in 1194; rebuilding began almost immediately, funded by donations from all quarters of France. Major construction ended in 1220. The cathedral contains among its relics what is supposedly the tunic of the Virgin Mary.
An extensive array of flying buttresses supports the nave (front) of the cathedral and its sides. The buttresses enabled the construction of larger-than-ever stained glass windows.
Massive sculptures adorn Chartres. Those on the north portal depict scenes from the Old Testament, while those on the south display New Testament scenes. The royal portal on the west displays events in the lives of Christ and Mary.
An Episcopal priest for some 30 years, the Rev. Doug Cadwallader was instrumental in establishing a food bank in Houston, Texas.