Black Madonnas

by Mary Frankland

CybeleThese statues or paintings are usually described by the Roman Catholic authorities as images of the Blessed Virgin Mary depicted with a dark or black skin.

St Bernard of Clairvaux was a great devotee of the Mother of Jesus, and he wrote numerous hymns and sermons which he dedicated to her. He also wrote several sermons on the theme of the Song of Songs in which the Bride sings “I am black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem." It is also possible that several Black Madonnas were originally images of the Goddess.

In his book, Cult of the Black Virgin, Ean Begg notes that in the early 1980s, “a pagan Black Virgin made according to ancient rites was venerated in the course of Druidic ceremonies at St Georges Nigremont.” I hope to present more evidence for the transition of these figures to Christian veneration during the course of this article.

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