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| | |-+  black madonnas in europe
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Author Topic: black madonnas in europe  (Read 12665 times)
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« on: November 14, 2007, 05:09:09 PM »


?쏫ings. Popes and the mighty ones of the world came
humbly to venerated the Black Virgins of Le Puy,
Rocamadour, Montpellier and Chartres, and carried
images of the powerful feminine in their hearts.?lt;br>--Ean Begg

For thousands of years the African woman in all her
splendor has been worshipped and idolized by
individuals, families, and nations, in Africa and
around the world. Ancient records show her in varied
guises--as queen, goddess, martyr, warrior,
intellectual, holy mother and saint. The African woman
has led mighty nations into battle, founded splendid
royal dynasties, performed sacred miracles, and given
birth to messiahs. No other human of any racial or
ethnic type has been or should be as broadly venerated
as the African woman.

Of all the varied aspects of African womanhood, none
are more fascinating than the hundreds of
representations of Black Virgins or Black Madonnas.
Indeed, the Black Madonnas of Europe are perhaps the
most venerated icons in all of European Christendom.
Their shrines have attracted millions of devotees.
They are thought to be miracle workers, and their
miracle working powers are derived from their

According to a recent account:

?쏷he black Virgins are the stars of the Marian cult.
There are more than five hundred of these in Europe
alone. Many made their appearance around the twelfth
century, the age that produced the quest for the Holy
Grail, the Roman de la Rose and the lyrical sermons of
St Bernard, whose passion for the Virgin was such that
he carried her image with him always. Some of the
black Virgins are said to have been brought back by
Crusaders, others arrived by boat, in mysterious

"All the Black Madonnas are powerful images; they are
miracle workers. They are implored for intercession in
the various problems of fertility. Pilgrimages
covering hundreds of kilometers are made to these
specific shrines. The degree of adorational fervor far
exceeds that attached to other representations of the
Virgin. For example, until the last decade, when the
practice was explicitly forbidden by church
authorities, pilgrims journeying to the shrine of
Mount Vergine would climb the steps of the church on
their knees, licking each step with their tongues. We
are, thus equating the blackness of the images with
their power. The attitude of the pilgrim approaches
not reverence but worship (latrial)."

In Russia during the nineteenth century the celebrated
Russian General Kutuzov had his army pray before the
Black Madonna of Kazan before the historic battle with
the Napoleonic army at Borodino. The same Madonna is
said to have inspired Rasputin and may now be in the
United States. At least two major paintings of Black
Madonnas are on display in the Kremlin, in Moscow.

In reference to La Moreneta (the Little Black
Lady)--the Black Madonna of Montserrat, Spain--more
than a thousand years old and the patroness of the
Catalonian region, it is said "He is not well wed who
has not taken his wife to Montserrat." She is in
charge of sexuality and fertility, and presides over
weddings and childbirth. In the mountains north of
Barcelona, La Moreneta?셲 shrine has attracted millions
of visitors, including pope John Paul II. Both Goethe
and Schiller attached great importance to Montserrat.

France probably has more representations of Black
Madonnas than any other country. France has more than
three-hundred representations of Black Madonnas, a
chief center of which is Chartres--a small quiet town
about eighty-five kilometers southwest of Paris. The
most notable of the Black Madonna images in Chartres
is called Notre-Dame du Pilier (Our Lady of the
Pillar). This representation, about a meter high, of
a Black Madonna statue made of natural wood placed on
a pillar holding the infant Jesus. Both the Madonna
and Child are colored a very dark brown and are
dressed in white robes embroidered with gold. The
images are highly venerated, especially among
Catholics, and I confess that even I, out of respect,
got down on both knees during my two visits to the
cathedral and whispered a prayer.

The cathedral at Chartres is a large and magnificent
edifice more than eight hundred years old and
possessing marvelous original blue stained glass
windows, at least two of which have Black Madonna
figures right in the center. A copy of an original
Black Madonna statue stands in a crypt underneath the
main cathedral.

Carved on prominent lintel blocks of the Chartres
cathedral are the statues of two Black men. The most
notable of these figures is an African soldier drawing
his sword at the Judgment of Solomon. It is dated at
almost seven hundred years of age. Another image
depicts a kneeling African man, perhaps a Moor. The
soldier's face is painted black and both figures have
tightly curled hair.

There is every May in Chartres a procession of
hundreds of Tamils come to the church to pay homage to
the Black goddess Kali in the guise of the Black

Many believe that the Black Madonnas of Europe
represent vestiges of the adoration of the African
goddess Ast--better known as Isis. Notre Dame
Cathedral (the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris),
considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and at
the very center of Paris, was built directly over an
ancient temple of this supreme African deity. Indeed,
it has been noted the name of Paris itself is derived
from Park of Isis.

In the quiet Chapel of the Congregation of S. Thomas
of Villeneuve in a serene setting in the Parisian
suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine stands one of the most
important of the Black Madonna statues. She is La
Vierge Noire de Paris (the Black Virgin of Paris) and
consists of a two meter high standing statue, carved
of a single block of hard limestone, of a smiling
Black Madonna holding the Christ child (the infant
wears closely cropped nappy blond hair) and wielding a
kind of wand or scepter capped by the fleur de
lys--symbol of the French monarchy. Atop her head sits
a gold crown embedded with precious stones. The statue
is dressed in a gown of rich red, blue, and white
colors--the colors of the French flag. The Christ
child himself is holding a golden cross and the entire
image is believed to be more than five hundred years
old, and probably replaced a much earlier one.

One of the most important Black Madonnas in France is
Our Lady of Le Puy. Located in the southern part of
France, the statue may have originally been that of
Ast/Isis. At Le Puy pope Urban II held council to
prepare for the First Crusade. Joan of Arc sent the
knights that accompanied her from Vaucouleurs to
Chinon, along with her mother and two brothers, to Le
Puy to pray there.

Our Lady of Rocamadour, a Black Madonna carved of
walnut wood, is believed to be more than a thousand
years old. She is said to resuscitate babies, protect
sailors, free captives, and promote fertility, To
reach her shrine in southwest France one must climb
216 steps. Among her more notable visitors have been
St. Louis of France and Henry II of England.

La Negre, the Black Madonna of Montpellier, is one of
the most notable of the Black Madonnas of France. She
is said to have been performing miracles since 878 and
is believed to have saved Montpellier from drought and

Other famous Black Madonnas are found scattered
throughout Europe, with some of the most notable
examples in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and
Poland. Of the hundreds of Black Madonnas which
presently exist at assorted shrines in Europe, some
are especially significant.

Our Lady of Allotting (Bavaria, Germany), near Munich,
dates to the thirteenth century. She is made of lime
wood. Her pilgrimage is the oldest and most important
in Bavaria.

Our Lady of Hal, in the Church of St. Martin, just
outside of Brussels, Belgium, dating from the early
thirteenth century, is made of walnut, is believed to
have defended the town on numerous occasions. Her
visitors have included Henry VIII of England and Louis
XII of France. The Black Madonna is believed to have
saved Brussels from attackers in 1580 when she
intercepted numerous cannon balls in her lap. The
cannon balls can still be seen on display in the
church. She is believed to heal sickness and restore
the dead and buried to life. Her pilgrimage and
procession are on the first Sunday in September.

Loreto is described as ?쏰ne of the most famous
pilgrimage resorts in the world.? Our Lady of Loreto
was accidentally destroyed by fire and replaced by a
new standing statue made of cedar wood. St. Louis
heard Mass at Loreto. According to Begg, ?쏯o Black
Madonna had been more copied throughout the world.?

Our Lady of the Hermits in Einsiedeln, Switzerland
ranks as one of the most venerated of all Madonnas.
Located in a Benedictine abbey, her titles include Die
Schwarze Madonna, Madonna in the Dark Wood, and Our
Dear Lady of Einsiedeln. She is a standing statue
four feet tall. The Black Saint Maurice is one of the
patrons of the Church. According to Begg, ?쏞.G. June
is reported as saying that the Black Virgin of
Einsiedeln is Isis.?

And probably the most famous Black Madonna image in
the world is Our Lady of Jasna Gora (dubbed the Queen
of Poland,) in the Jasna Gora monastery at
Czestochowa, Poland. Painted on three pieces of wood
(either lime or cypress), the Black Madonna at
Czestochowa, supposedly discovered in Jerusalem,
arrived at the Jasna Gora monastery in the fourteenth
century. Since her arrival her offerings have included
thousands of diamonds and rubies, hundreds of pearls,
and dozens of emeralds and sapphires.

Bruised, slashed, and battered, paraded before
victorious armies, the Queen of Poland has gone
through many restorations and has always kept her dark
complexion. More than eight hundred copies of the
Black Madonna of Czestochowa exist. Millions of
visitors a year come to see her.


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