Thought for the Week – The Black Madonna in Einsiedeln

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In the Swiss monastery of Einsiedeln there is a Black Madonna. The Black Madonna may have emerged as a compensation for the Madonna who became too white.
Catholic tradition made Mary into a white figure of purity and perfection and dissociated her from the darker side of life.
The Black Madonnas of Europe have long been associated with the darker side of life: illness, loss of loved ones, childbearing, woman’s sufferings, shipwrecks, prisoners.
A friend of mine relates this history of the Black Madonna in Einsiedeln:
When the soldiers of the French Revolution stormed Einsiedeln, they planned to destroy the Black Madonna, which they considered to be a cult of superstition. To protect it, the villagers buried it then a farmer smuggled it out of Switzerland. It was restored in Austria. In scraping off the soot the artist found that its original colour was not black.  He painted the Madonna and child the colour of flesh. The Madonna was displayed to the citizens of Bludenz before being restored to Einsiedeln. They were deeply disappointed that it no longer corresponded to the Black Madonna that they had known in Einsiedeln. The painter had to paint it black. Nobody has dared change it since then.


Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – The Black Madonna in Einsiedeln