4. Unknown creator. Mosaic labyrinth in the abbey of Al-Asnan, Algeria (formerly St. Reparatus, Orléansville), c. 300.
Published here in: Paolo Santarcangeli. Il libro di labyrinti: storia di un mito e di un simbolo. Firenze: Vallecchi, 1967. First edition.
Davis Library.

The poem at the center of this mosaic labyrinth is an example of labyrinthi cubici. Beginning at the central "S" and working one's way toward any of the four corners, moving from letter to letter horizontally or vertically, the text spells out "sancta eclesia" (holy church) along thousands of possible serpentine paths. This is a clever visual echo of the labyrinth surrounding the poem, where one begins at the outside and zigzags to the center. Together, the labyrinth and its central poem convey the symbolic message that life's journey is arduous and filled with twists and turns; but although one feels lost along the way, the church (and thus God / Heaven) are at the end of the journey and at the center of life.

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