YOU don’t have to travel to France to walk the famous Chartres Cathedral labyrinth.
Set among 40 hectares of serene countryside in Arcadia you can find a replica, and it will be accessible to the public for the first time on Sunday.
‘‘It was Brother Mario [Yong-Ching]’s idea,’’ said Bernard McGrath, the prior of St Benedict’s Monastery, where the labyrinth is located.
Normally closed to the public, the Benedictine monastery opens its doors once a year to host an old-fashioned country fair.
Sunday’s fair includes tours of the 52-year-old monastery where you will find Limousin cattle grazing and fresh country produce growing, out of which home-made jams and sweets are made for the fair.
There will also be Shetland pony rides, face painting, balloons, fairy floss, a jumping castle and barbecue.
‘‘The money will go towards either building schools or accommodation for teachers in areas where governments don’t build schools, mainly in India and Asia,’’ Father Bernard said.
He is one of seven monks who reside at St Benedict’s, whose chapel overlooks the picturesque Blue Mountains and inside which the monks gather five times a day to pray and chant psalms beneath its beautiful stained glass windows, some of which were salvaged from St Marys Cathedral following the fire of 1865.
Some pray while walking the labyrinth, historically a symbol of the long tortuous path pilgrims would have followed to visit shrines and cathedrals during the medieval period.
‘‘It’s centering... becoming in touch with breathing and self and existence,’’ Father Bernard said.
The monks observe the Rule of St Benedict, a book of precepts written by St Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-548 AD) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot.
St Benedict’s Monastery 48th Country Fair, Sunday, March 10, 10.30am at 121 Arcadia Road, Arcadia, will be preceded by a 10am Mass. Monastery tours: 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm. Details: 9653 1159.