I've seen upwards of 20 Black Madonnas since stumbling half-drunk into the dark and cool confines of the Notre Dame de la Daurade basilica in Toulouse 15 years ago, so astonished at its Black Madonna that I embarked on a near-obsessional path in search of more "Vierges Noires". The flame has abated, but it still gives me an excuse from time to time, when I travel someplace new, to visit an out-of-the-way village church or chapel in order to see another example or to simply poke around some place I might not otherwise have visited.
That said, I've never seen anything but "Latin" examples, for lack of a better term, in the south of France, Spain and Catalonia and, to my surprise, Andorra. So it was with great pleasure that I was able to see a couple of examples outside of those countries. The first is in Luxembourg city, the second in Dublin.
The first thing I noticed about the Luxembourg and Dublin Madonnas is that there is no origin story similar to the Spanish and especially French Madonnas. These are almost to a number described as having been found after the strange behavior of animals, usually cows or oxen. They were often found in springs, buried or hidden within bushes or trees. They usually could not be moved from where they had been found.
Like most Black Madonnas, the Schwarze Notmuttergottes is renowned as a miracle-worker. Many scholars date her to ca. 1360 and from the Cologne school, but there are no documents to support this; some Medieval accounts say she was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades, which may account for one of her titles, the "Egyptian Mother of God." We have seen a strong link between the Black Madonnas with Egypt before, not only in connection with Isis, but with Saint Sarah and the "three Marys". It occurs to me that her mysterious origin may be a key feature to an especially fervent cult; not knowing from where or when she came, it's easier to imbue this ambiguity with a sense of mystery and miracle. Having detailed documentation of being sculpted in a workshop makes it more difficult to imagine her as a miracle-working wonder sent from God. To my eye, her posture, s-curve, coloration, crown and baton make her a dead-ringer for Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance, located in the wealthy Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, said to be a 14th c. copy of an 11th c. original, though some say she is far more recent.
Her titles have included "Star of the Heavens" and the "Queen of Peace". Already dark due to the wood in which she is made, she was inevitably darkened by years of burning tapers and incense, becoming specifically the Schwartze Notmuttergottes, or "Black" Mother in the wake of a plague epidemic, when she was charged with protecting children. The centrality of her blackness as a salient feature is attested to not only in her name after this event, but in the fact that in later restorations her skin has been painted black; by the time of the plague, her blackness had become a critical part of her power.
The "Emergency Mother" was housed in a Franciscan monastery which was destroyed during the French Revolution; She was hidden for a while at the convent in Marienthal until in 1805 it became possible again to publicly display her at the church of Saint-Jean-du-Grund. She is especially venerated during Lent.
Our Lady of Dublin is housed in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. It is sculpted in wood and probably dates from the 16th century
Local legend says she started her life at St. Mary's Abbey, which was dissolved in 1539 as part of the Henrician reforms. The first documentary evidence has her at St. Mary's Lane Parochial Chapel in 1749. This chapel was razed in 1816, and (according to newspaper accounts in 1947 and 1974) Our Lady was found by a Carmelite priest in 1824. It had been thoroughly disrespected at his point. The priest is reported to have found her for sale in a common shop, and that she had in the interim, perhaps just after the Dissolution, been placed face down in an Inn's courtyard to serve as a pig trough!
Reports of neglect are a common theme in her story; a newspaper account from the 1830's reports that Her silver crown had been sold off; an article from the 60's states that when the Jesuits relocated the St. Mary's Lane chapel to Anne St., they simply left the statue behind. In 1947 She went on temporary display at the National Museum of Ireland "as an example of a Catholic statue to survive the Penal days in https://comeheretome.com/2013/11/13/our-lady-of-dublin-a-pig-trough-and-the-pillar/)She had obviously been rehabilitated; indeed, it has been on display in its current chapel since 1915, and rededicated in 1974. (
Her neglect and disrespect, and most of all, survival, is perhaps why she has been so revered. The Irish survived English attempts to subjugate them and their Catholicism the Protestantism the English brought with them. She thus has a kid of nationalist role like the Black Madonnas, for example, of Mexico, Poland, and Brazil.