Black Madonna Painting
Carondelet Center’s reception area features a Black Madonna painted by Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ (2019). This particular painting depicts the original Black Madonna in the Cathedral of LePuy-en-Velay, France where the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in this town in 1650, and the Black Madonna is an influential element of this town’s culture. The original sculpture resided in the LePuy Cathedral from approximately the 12th century until 1794 when she was taken out and destroyed by fire during the French Revolution. A replica statue was later carved and remains in the Cathedral. An influential element of LePuy’s culture, she is one of two Black Madonnas in the Cathedral.
Some are of the opinion that this statue derives from the Egyptian tradition of of Isis and Horus. Through the lens of the Catholic tradition we can celebrate it as the Madonna and Child. Throughout France there are countless images of Black Madonnas. To help us understand their meaning, scholar and storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book Untie the Strong Woman, writes:
“The province of the Black Madonna appears to be, in large part, to urge the human spirit to inquire and to see beyond ‘the expected,’ beyond what is considered the ‘only way to properly see,’ to grasp the picture beyond that which is most easily perceived by ego alone. To see with the eyes of the Immaculate Heart, to see with the eyes of the divine Child Spirit, to see with the eyes of the battered but fully radiant soul.
Her ‘black light’ illumines. And under that black light too, in daylight or at night, we can also see ‘her source and the force of Immaculate Love.’ Despite or because of denigrations to Holy Mother in her dark skin, she still shines her unusual light toward us, from the juncture point between two worlds. So that we all might see, as she sees. Fully awake. Eyes wide open. All worlds. All worths. Siempre. Always.”