Black Madonna

Black Madonna of Outremeuse in a procession
Black Madonna of Guingamp
Madonna at House of the Black Madonna, Prague
The icon of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius

A Black Madonna or Black Virgin is a statue or painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she, and oftentimes the infant Jesus, are depicted with dark skin, especially those created in Poland in the medieval period or earlier. The Black Madonnas are generally found in Catholic and Orthodox countries. The term refers to a type of Marian statue or painting of mainly medieval origin (12th to 15th centuries), with dark or black features.[1] The statues are mostly wooden but occasionally stone, often painted and up to 75 cm (30 in) tall. They fall into two main groups: free-standing upright figures or seated figures on a throne. The pictures are usually icons which are Byzantine in style, often made in 13th- or 14th-century Italy. There are about 450–500 Black Madonnas in Europe, depending on how they are classified. There are at least 180 Vierges Noires in France, and there are hundreds of non-medieval copies as well. Some are in museums, but most are in churches or shrines and are venerated by devotees. A few are associated with miracles and attract substantial numbers of pilgrims.

Studies and research

Important early studies of dark images in France were done by Marie Durand-Lefebvre (1937), Emile Saillens (1945), and Jacques Huynen (1972). The first notable study of the origin and meaning of the Black Madonnas in English appears to have been presented by Leonard Moss at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on December 28, 1952. Moss broke the images into three categories: (1) dark brown or black Madonnas with physiognomy and skin pigmentation matching that of the indigenous population; (2) various art forms that have turned black as a result of certain physical factors such as deterioration of lead-based pigments, accumulated smoke from the use of votive candles, and accumulation of grime over the ages, and (3) residual category with no ready explanation.[1]

List of Black Madonnas


Our Lady of Guidance, Manila


The Philippines



Marija Bistrica


Czech Republic


Vierge noire de Graville (Le Havre).
Black Madonna of Toulouse



St. Matthew's Church



Tindari Madonna Bruna: restoration work in the 1990s found a medieval statue with later additions. Nigra sum sed formosa, meaning "I am black but beautiful" (from the Song of Songs, 1:5), is inscribed round a newer base.










Our Lady of Wladimir XII century. Russia





One of three of Turkey's surviving icons of the Theotokos on the island of Heybeliada at the Theological School of Halki


Three icons portraying the Theotokos with black skin survived in Turkey to the present-day, one of which is housed in the church of Halki theological seminary.


United Kingdom

The Americas


Nossa Senhora Aparecida


Costa Rica


Trinidad and Tobago

See also


  1. 1 2 "Black Madonnas—Introduction".
  2. "Algiers".
  3. "Senegal".
  4. "Soweto".
  5. Baybay, Felicito S., "Patron Ng Kapayapaan At Mga Manlalakbay"
  6. KD. "Our Lady Of The Rule National Shrine – Quirks of Life".
  7. Darang, Josephine. "Special Mass for Our Lady of Piat held July 9 at Sto. Domingo Church", Philippine Daily Enquirer, June 26, 2011
  8. "Your Question".
  9. "Brno – The Black Madonna".
  10. "Church of Our Lady Below the Chain in Prague", Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Channell, J., "Notre-Dame des Graces", Aix-en-Provence
  12. "Black Virgin of Aurillac". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
  13. "Notre Dame de Clermont". 2007-12-19. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  14. "Douvres".
  15. "Notre Dame de La Chapelle Geneste". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
  16. "Notre Dame du Puy, Cathedrale...: Photo by Photographer Dennis Aubrey". 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  17. "Black Virgin of Marseilles". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
  18. "Black Virgin of Mauriac". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
  19. "Meymac".
  20. "Black Virgin of Riom". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
  21. "The Sanctuaries".
  22. Garth Cartwright. "Partying with the Gypsies in the Camargue". the Guardian.
  23. "Gypsy's Pilgrimage – Les Saintes Maries de la Mer – Camargue – France".
  24. "Notre Dame du Château". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
  25. "Vierge des Croisades". 2007-12-19. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  26. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe, Norman Davies
  27. Dhalai, Richard, "La Divina Pastora", Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, March 19, 2007


External links

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