Saturday, June 4, 2011


There has been a long tradition in Christian art of the "Black Madonna". All along the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, we find shrines dedicated to the Black Madonna. There are many theories concerning why she is black. The Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, is not only represented as dark, but also scarred. On her cheeks we can see the wounds created by three slashes, thought by some to have been inflicted later on this icon supposedly painted by St. Luke. This figure of the dark Madonna is evoked in times of suffering. She is the guardian of the pilgrim who has to face many difficulties on the way. The Indian artist Frank Wesley often represented Mary as a dark featured Dalit or Adivasi woman. She is somehow a primordial feminine figure from which human culture as we know it emerged. She is like the dark earth, out of which the seed of human consciousness is born. Through her suffering she can identify with the suffering of her son, but also the suffering of all human beings. In the Gospel of Luke, the Prophet Simeon says to Mary: "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed; and a sword will pierce your own heart too!"

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