A Virgin A Day: Reflections on the Black Madonna

410px-CzestochowskaCzestochowa Basilica in the Jasna Gora monastery, the Virgin of Czestochowa, lime-wood, painting attributed to St. Luke, restored 1433

Reflections on  The Black Madonna (Excerpt) by Sue Monk Kidd

“ Images of a divine mother are surprisingly important in the psychological wholeness of women, especially in the process of women taking up residence in their own authority… Mary has quietly, even subversively, functioned as the feminine dimension of God in much of western religion. I read an essay by author Kathleen Norris in which she made the amazing statement that Mary is particularly suited to post-modernism. She didn’t elaborate on the reason, but my guess is that Mary, fresh with feminist appropriations, has the potential to undergird women’s reformations. "

Madonna and Child of Soweto Larry Scully Johannesburg, S.A. 1973Madonna and Child of Soweto/Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Larry Scully 1922-2002/Johannesburg, South Africa. Painted in 1973,
"I felt that any image of Mary in the novel (The Secret Life of Bees) would have to be black. Not only because the women who revered her were black, but because historically Black Madonnas have often been at the root of insurgence.”

Our Lady of MontserratThe Virgin of Montserrat is a statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ venerated at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in the Montserrat mountain in Catalonia. It is one of the black Madonnas of Europe, hence its familiar Catalan name, la Moreneta ("The little dark-skinned one").

 “It was a revelation to me that hundreds of very old Black Madonnas exist in Europe and elsewhere, and that their darkness is a legacy of ancient black goddesses. I think of the Black Madonna as the White Madonna before the church scrubbed the really interesting stuff out of her. I began to study the Black Madonna, and to travel to her pilgrimage sites, especially in France. I discovered that many of her stories and history reveal a Mary who is openly defiant in the face of oppression. In Poland, South and Central America, and other places, she has been a symbol of revolution.

blackmaddonnabreznice (1)The Madonna of Breznice In the museum Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, in Prague, in the Stare Mesto part of town, one block from the Vlatva river, U Milosrdnych 17, 1396, 41.5 x 29.5 cm, tempera and gold on parchment and linen.

“I decided I would create a Black Madonna for the novel, (The Secret Life of Bees) who had existed during slavery in the South, and that she would be a symbol of freedom and consolation.”

All quotations excerpted from Sue Monk Kidd’s website http://www.suemonkkidd.com/Reflections.aspx?t=b&i=34

And Now enjoy A Tour of Many beautiful images of the Black Madonna throughout Europe.

Black Madonnas of Europe

For More Virgin Sightings See Recuerda Mi Corazon!


  1. Thank you, Rebecca. There was more about Lily and the novel in there, but I
    pared it down to the essentials. It is one of my forever favorite novels as
    well. I was quite taken with the Soweto Madonna and all of the black
    madonnas. Thank you for your loving thoughts.


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