Of all the varied aspects of African womanhood, none are more fascinating than the hundreds of representations of Black Madonnas. Indeed, the Black Madonnas of Europe are perhaps the most venerated icons in all of European Christendom. Their shrines have attracted millions of devotees. They are thought to be miracle workers, and their miracle-working powers are derived from their blackness.
In Russia during the nineteenth century, the celebrated Russian General Kutuzov had his army pray before the Black Madonna of Kazan before the historic battle with the Napoleonic army at Borodino. The same Madonna is said to have inspired Rasputin and may now be in the United States. At least two major paintings of Black Madonnas are on display in the Kremlin, in Moscow.
The Black Madonna of Montserrat, Spain – She is in charge of sexuality and fertility, and presides over weddings and childbirth. She has attracted millions of visitors, including pope John Paul II.
Our Lady of Rocamadour, a Black Madonna carved of walnut wood, is believed to be more than 1,000 years old. She is said to resuscitate babies, protect sailors, free captives, and promote fertility. To reach her shrine in southwest France one must climb 216 steps. Among her more notable visitors have been St. Louis of France and Henry II of England.
La Negre, the Black Madonna of Montpellier, is one of the most notable of the Black Madonnas of France. She is said to have been performing miracles since 878 and is believed to have saved Montpellier from drought and plague.
The most famous of the Black Madonnas is Poland’s holiest and most important relic. This Madonna has amassed a cult of followers due to its alleged powers. It has been said that this Black Madonna repelled invading Swedes, cured illnesses, and thwarted robbers by becoming so heavy the icon could not be lifted by the thieves.
Q: What is the name of this Black Madonna?