World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Black Madonna

La Vierge Noire d'Outremeuse Procession
La Vierge noire de 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 Mary in which she is depicted with dark skin, especially those created in Europe in the medieval period or earlier. The Black Madonnas are generally found in Catholic 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 1
  • List of Black Madonnas 2
    • Africa 2.1
    • Asia 2.2
      • The Philippines 2.2.1
    • Europe 2.3
      • Belgium 2.3.1
      • Croatia 2.3.2
      • Czech Republic 2.3.3
      • France 2.3.4
      • Germany 2.3.5
      • Ireland 2.3.6
      • Italy 2.3.7
      • Kosovo 2.3.8
      • Lithuania 2.3.9
      • Luxembourg 2.3.10
      • Macedonia 2.3.11
      • Malta 2.3.12
      • Poland 2.3.13
      • Portugal 2.3.14
      • Russia 2.3.15
      • Serbia 2.3.16
      • Slovenia 2.3.17
      • Spain 2.3.18
      • Switzerland 2.3.19
      • Turkey 2.3.20
      • Ukraine 2.3.21
      • United Kingdom 2.3.22
    • The Americas 2.4
      • Brazil 2.4.1
      • Chile 2.4.2
      • Costa Rica 2.4.3
      • Trinidad and Tobago 2.4.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6

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


  • Algeria, Algiers: "Our Lady of Africa"[2]
  • Senegal, Popenguine: "Notre-Dame de la Délivrance",[3]
  • South Africa, Soweto: "The Black Madonna",[4]
Our Lady of Guidance, Manila


The Philippines



  • Brugge, "Our Lady of Regla"[8]
  • Brussels : "De Zwerte Lieve Vrouwo", St. Catherine Church
  • Halle (Flemish Brabant) : Sint-Martinusbasiliek
  • Liège: La Vierge Noire d'Outremeuse,
  • Lier: Onze lieve vrouw ter Gratien
  • Scherpenheuvel-Zichem: Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel
  • Tournai: Our Lady of Flanders in Tournai Cathedral
  • Verviers: "Black Virgin of the Recollects", Notre-Dame des Récollets Church,
  • Walcourt: (Notre-Dames de Walcourt)
Marija Bistrica


  • Marija Bistrica: Our Lady of Bistrica, Queen of Croatia

Czech Republic

  • Brno: Assumption of Virgin Mary Minor Basilica, St Thomas's Abbey, Brno[9]
  • Prague: The Madonna of Breznice; The Black Madonna in the Church Our Lady Under the Chain;[10] The Black Madonna on the House of the Black Madonna.


  • Aix-en-Provence, (Bouches-du-Rhône): Notre-Dame des Graces, Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix[11]
  • Arconsat: (Notre-Dame des Champs)
  • Aurillac, (Cantal): Notre-Dame des Neiges[12]
  • Beaune: Our Lady of Beaune
  • Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise,(Puy-de-Dôme): Saint-André Church, Notre-Dame de Vassivière
  • Bourg-en-Bresse,(Ain): 13th century
  • Chartres,(Eure-et-Loir): crypt of the Cathedral of Chartres, Notre-Dame-de-Sous-Terre
  • Clermont-Ferrand, (Puy-de-Dôme) [13]
  • Cusset: the Black Virgin of Cusset
  • Dijon, (Côte-d'Or)
  • Douvres-la-Délivrande, Basilique Notre-Dame de la Délivrande, "Notre-Dame de la Délivrande"[14]
  • Dunkerque, (Nord) : Chapelle des Dunes
  • Guingamp, (Côtes-d'Armor): Basilica of Notre Dame de Bon Secours.
  • La Chapelle-Geneste, (Haute-Loire: Notre Dame de La Chapelle Geneste[15]
  • Laon,(Aisne): Notre-Dame Cathedral, statue of 1848
Vierge noire de Graville (Le Havre).
  • Le Havre,(Seine-Maritime): statue near the Graville Abbey (Abbaye de Graville)
  • Le Puy-en-Velay: In 1254 when passing through on his return from the Holy Land Saint Louis IX of France gave the cathedral an ebony image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in gold brocade (Notre-Dame du Puy). It was destroyed during the Revolution, but replaced at the Restoration with a copy that continues to be venerated.[16]
  • Liesse-Notre-Dame, (Aisne): Notre-Dame de Liesse, statue destroyed in 1793, copy of 1857
  • Marseille,(Bouches-du-Rhône): Notre-Dame-de-Confession,[17] Abbey of St. Victor ; Notre-Dame d'Huveaune, Saint-Giniez Church
  • Mauriac, Cantal: Notre Dame des Miracles[18]
  • Mende, (Lozère) : Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat de Mende)
  • Menton, (Alpes-Maritimes): St. Michel Church
  • Meymac Abbey, (Corrèze)[19]
  • Molompize: Notre-Dame de Vauclair
  • Mont-Saint-Michel: Notre-Dame du Mont-Tombe
  • Myans, (Savoie)
  • Quimper,(Finistère): Eglise de Guéodet, nommée encore Notre-Dame-de-la-Cité
  • Riom,(Puy-de-Dôme): Notre-Dame du Marthuret[20]
  • Rocamadour, (Lot): Our Lady of Rocamadour [21]
  • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Camarque) Avignon: Annual Gypsy festival [22] Celebrating Sara, the patron saint of Gypsys [23]
  • Soissons (Aisne): statue of the 12th century
  • Tarascon, (Bouches-du-Rhône): Notre-Dame du Château[24]
  • Thuret,(Puy-de-Dôme)[25]
Black Madonna of Toulouse
  • Toulouse: The basilica Notre-Dame de la Daurade in Toulouse, France had housed the shrine of a Black Madonna. The original icon was stolen in the fifteenth century, and its first replacement was burned by Revolutionaries in 1799 on the Place du Capitole. The icon presented today is an 1807 copy of the fifteenth century Madonna. Blackened by the hosts of candles, the second Madonna was known from the sixteenth century as Our Lady La Noire.[26]
  • Tournemire, Château d'Anjony, Our Lady of Anjony
  • Vaison-la-Romaine, (Vaucluse): statue on a hill
  • Vichy, (Allier): Saint-Blaise 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.


  • Vitina-Letnica: Church of the Black Madonna, where Mother Teresa is believed to have heard her calling.




  • Kališta, Monastery: Madonna icon in the Nativity of Our Most Holy Mother of God church
  • Ohrid, Church: Madonna with the child


  • Ħamrun: Our Lady of Atocja, a medieval painting brought to Malta by a merchant in the year 1630, depicting a statue found in Atocha, a parish in Madrid, Spain, and widely known as Il-Madonna tas-Samra. (This can mean 'tanned Madonna', 'brown Madonna', or 'Madonna of Samaria'.)




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


  • Andacollo,(Elqui Province): La Virgen Morena (Spanish for The Brunette Virgin)

Costa Rica

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Siparia : La Divina Pastora[27]

See also


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ , June 26, 2011Philippine Daily EnquirerDarang, Josephine. "Special Mass for Our Lady of Piat held July 9 at Sto. Domingo Church",
  8. ^ "Your Question". 
  9. ^ "Brno - The Black Madonna". 
  10. ^ "Church of Our Lady Below the Chain in Prague",
  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 Chateau". 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. ^ , March 19, 2007Trinidad and Tobago NewsdayDhalai, Richard, "La Divina Pastora",


  • Channell, J., "Black Virgin Sites in France"
  • Rozett, Ella. "Index of Black Madonnas Worldwide",

External links

  • List of Black Madonnas
  • - Karen RallsThe Black Virgin
  • Montserrat
  • Pilgrimage
  • Black Madonna gallery by Canon Jim Irvine, New Brunswick, Canada
  • The Black Madonna "The work of God"
  • Nuestra Señora de Atocha
  • Black Madonna Pilgrimage to Central France
  • Black Madonna photo collection on Flickr
  • - Ella RozettBlack Madonnas and other Mysteries of Mary
  • , Vol. 30, Spring-Summer 2004Voices: The Journal of New York FolkloreSciorra, Joseph. "The Black Madonna of Thirteenth Street",
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.