Local Heart, Global Soul

May 19, 2013

Enlightened About a Black Madonna, Surrounded by Angels…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just a little further down the south aisle of Sint-Romboutskathedraal (St. Rumbold’s Cathedral) is a Blank Madonna. From Wikipedia (link below) I learn:

“There are about 450–500 Black Madonnas in Europe, depending on how they are classified.

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 areas. The term refers to a type of Marian statue or painting of mainly medieval origin (12C-15C), with dark or black features whose exact origins are not always easy to determine.

The statues are mostly wooden but occasionally stone, often painted and up to 75 cm tall. They fall into two main groups: free-standing upright figures and 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 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.

 The first notable study of the origin and meaning of the so-called 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 Dec. 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.”

I took quite a few photographs of the Sint-Romboutskathedraal’s Black Madonna, the icon sits raised above a marble table or altar, on which in turn sit four large candles and a flowering plant. I didn’t feel that it would be appropriate to move the items on the table in order to take better photos so tried to do my best around them.

The metalwork embellished frame that surrounds the Black Madonna depicts stylized rose bushes and leaves and beautiful angels and four saints (or apostles?) in the corners. The Madonna herself is so dark (I think also additionally so with age) that it was really hard to get a photo with decent detail so I concentrated more on the beautiful panels in the frame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Rumbold’s_Cathedral

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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