GOOD MORNING POU!
This week’s series will take a look at The Black Virgin Mary. It was inspired by a convo between Aquagranny, AxelFoley, Isonprize, TyrenM and myself about the depiction of the Virgin Mary and Jesus as Black in various parts of the world.
First, a brief historical background on the evolution of Isis to the Virgin Mary.
“The Attributes and titles which catapulted the Virgin Mary into the realm of goddesshood were borrowed from the African Isis . Legends recounted her eternal devotion to her son and life-long fidelity to God. An appellation mater domina, used in association with the African Isis, survives in the form “Madonna.” Titles of the Virgin which include, “The Madonna,” “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” “The Great Mother,” and “Our Lady are the same titles attributed to the African Isis long before the existence of Christianity.
Images of the Virgin Mary and Child proliferated after the Council of Ephesus. Cyril, major proponent for the elevation of the Virgin Mary, had spent the larger years of his life in Egypt. He was very familiar with representations of the African goddess Isis suckling Horus. This served as the prototype for the images of the Virgin Mary.
…Many anthropologists attribute the blackness of the European Madonnas to their fertility quality, with black representing the earth. Another theory attributes the blackness to extreme age or smoke from candles, but no explanation is given why only the hands, face and feet were affected. Unquestionably, all so-called “Black Madonnas” are not actually black. The skin tones range in various shades of light brown to very black, the same variations seen in the skin pigmentation of people of African ancestry. The European Black Madonnas demonstrate the diffusion of the African Isis into that continent. This diffusion can be investigated through the early development of Byzantine Christian iconography; and the adoption by the European Orthodox Christians of various Black goddesses to represent the Virgin Mary.
…The Black Madonnas of Europe have a tradition which goes back hundreds of years, before the advent of Christianity. The African Isis was prototype for the Black Madonnas of Europe. As the worship of Isis was suppressed, the Virgin Mary was elevated into the European Christendom. The African Isis was worshipped under the name of the Virgin Mary. But the images most venerated and held in highest esteem, are those most similar in depiction of the African Isis. Isis is best remembered through the images of the Black Madonna.”
From “The History of Black Virgin Marys” by J.A. Rogers:
Two of the oldest black Madonnas of Europe are those of Loretto, Italy, and of Nuria, Spain. The first is said to be the original of all the Black Virgins. It was destroyed by fire about 1930 and was restored by Pope Pius XI who, according to Father Ledit, ordered “the color preserved.” The Black Virgin of Nuria, which is called “The Queen of the Pyrenees” is distinctly Negro.
THE BLACK MADONNA OF LORETO, ITALY
THE BLACK VIRGIN OF NURIA, SPAIN