I love Chartres. I have an intense and unique relationship with both the city and the cathedral, and Mary is at the very heart of both. Usually, I end up here rather unexpectedly, and always when I need it most. I always have the sense of Mary calling me home; the blessings I have found waiting for me here have been many and deep – and this visit has been no exception.
The cathedral is a living cathedral, and is considered to be Mary’s home on earth. Its relic – its greatest treasure – is the veil, or chemise that Mary wore while birthing Jesus, and the the cathedral has adopted as a symbol which can be found in small touches around the cathedral:
The cathedral is constantly changing. Currently it is in the midst of a long, slow restoration and cleaning process. The dark cathedral that I first met 25 years ago is slowly being brightened as everything is painstakingly cleaned and restored to the glory that it’s architects intended.
And yet it is old and familiar, sacred and deeply human.
We start in the crypt, the hidden church, where I have spent much time in the past. It is there that you will find Notre Dame Sous Terre, the Black Madonna along with a small reliquary with a small piece of Mary’s veil. Nearby is a medieval fresco of Mary the Throne of Wisdom.
The day ended with a private labyrinth walk, just the nine of us pilgrims walking our final steps together.