Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nigra Sed Sum Formosa

You may have noticed in several posts of Christmas past we have remarked knowingly about the phenomenon of the Black Virgin or Black Madonna, without elaborating on just exactly what it is. Fact is, I (Daurade) wrote quite a few little "essays" on various Vierges Noires over the years, before LoS began.

An essay on my namesake Notre Dame de la Daurade gives a brief overview of what a Black Virgin is. Someday I'd like to revisit the subject in more detail but it's such a vast topic I've found it too daunting!

I'd thus like to give you a few links to these writings in order to not leave an important part of the puzzle unaddressed.

The following are only the Virgins I've visited, a small sampling of the 500 or so said to exist. Those mentioned without links I haven't gotten around to writing about yet....  

Notre Dame de la Daurade, Toulouse, Haute Garonne 

Notre Dame du Palais, Toulouse, Haute Garonne  

Notre Dame du Taur, Toulouse, Haute Garonne  

Notre-Dame du Pouech, Oust, Ariège  

Notre Dame des Ermites, Montaut, Ariège  

Other Vierges Noires of the Pyrénées, Aspet and St. Béat, Haute Garonne

Notre Dame de Tudet, Gaudonville/Tudet, Gers

Notre Dame de Cahuzac, Gimont, Gers

Mare de Déu del Socors, Tossa del Mar, Girona (Catalonia) 

Notre Dame de Sabart, Tarascon, Ariège 

Notre Dame de Rocamadour, Rocamadour, Lot 

Notre Dame de Boisville, Verdun-sur-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne (destroyed)

Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance, Neuilly-sur-Seine

Notre Dame de Paix de Picpus, Paris

La Vierge de Chaillot, Paris

Nuestra Señora de Torreciudad,  Secastilla, Huesca (Spain)

Notre Dame de Marceille, Limoux, Aude

Mare de Déu de Meritxell, Andorra

Notre Dame de Loubens-Lauragais, Loubens-Lauragais, Haute Garonne

Notre Dame de Sescas, Bourisp, Hautes-Pyrénées

The Throne of Wisdom, Aragnouet, Hautes-Pyrénées 

Our Lady Of Dublin, Dublin 

Schwaerz Noutmuttergootes, Luxembourg City

Good online articles:

This article has the benefit of featuring many examples in German-speaking localities.  This article has become very influential for me.  As a result of reading this I've begun to think less of the origin and reasons for Black Madonna than of the development of perceiving their blackness and the importance attached to it.

From the universal to the particular.  A look at the dwinding devotion to a reproduction of a Black Madonna among Sicilian immigrants and their descendants in New York and New Jersey.  A good overview of the principal theories about the origins of the Madonna followed by a description about how a particular cult is disappearing along with the Italian-American community that it was part of.  This ain't Puzo's New York.

This I didn't know: 

Italy has one of the highest concentrations of Black Madonnas in all of Europe, and they are known by their gradations of skin color: nera (black), scura (dark), or bruna (tawny).

In support of Scheer:

According to a popular legend, a polychromed cedar statue was brought to Sicily from the Middle East sometime in the eighth or ninth century to save it from destruction during the Iconoclastic Wars. Yet the statue is similar in style to the Romanesque "throne of wisdom" figure, with the seated infant Jesus enthroned on his mother’s lap, created in Europe during the twelfth century.

 Yet: is not until 1751 that someone in Tindari distinctly mentions the statue’s color and also associates it with race.

Some Books:

Begg, Ean.  The Cult of the Black Virgin.  1997.

Cassagnes-Brouquet, Sophie.  Vierges Noires.  2000.

Saillens, Emile.  Nos Vierges Noires.  1945/2007.


  1. hey, thanks for this background info, Daurade!

    Also--cool pic. How'd you make it look like that?

  2. That's Notre Dame du Palais, located in what is now a small oratory in a building which once housed the Inquisition and had prior sheltered St. Dominic and his crew some years before he founded the Dominican Order.

    I'm not sure what you mean about the pic's look though. Are you referring to the tone or grain or something? I didn't do a thing to it in any event, just pointed and clicked with my low cost camera....


Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Need to add an image? Use this code: [ximg]IMAGE-URL-HERE[x/img]. You will need to remove the the boldface x's from the code to make it work.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.