It is tempting to say, she climbed off the lion's back, hid the symbol of the storehouse behind her lapis lazuli cloak, bit her lip and pretended that war and passion had never been hers.
The Black Madonna is Sophia
She is the Sibyl
And the Byzantine Madonna.
The child she holds is her son Dumuzi, the green man, and Damu, child of the abyss, her daughter Persephone, and child of God, Jesus.
Sanctuaries all along the Mediterranean attest to her link with the waves and tides of the sea.
Pope Innocent 111 (1198-1216) exhorted the faithful:
Towards the Moon it is he should look, who is buried in the shades of sin and iniquity. Having lost grace, the day disappears and there is no more Sun for him, but the Moon is still on the horizon. Let him address himself to Mary; under her influence thousands everyday find their way to God.The imagery of water is light
The light of the sun is purified into dew, by the moon..
And the moon measuring time is the cycle of time.
Saint Jerome called the Hebrew Miriam, Stilla Maris- a drop of the sea.
Miriam hid her baby brother Moses by the side of a river to evade the Pharaoh’s order that newborn Hebrew boys be killed..
Miriam sang the Song of the Sea as the Red sea parted..and then flooded back:
“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;By a simple spelling mistake Stilla became became Stella Maris- Star of the Sea, and Mary becomes the constant star, the pole star which 'burns and burns and is never consumed'
Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Stella Maris was also stella matutina- the morning star.
Though Miriam isn't Mary...
Christians from the twelfth century onward interpreted Virgil's fourth eclogue as a messianic text foretelling the birth of an heroic child who ushers in the golden Age- when:
iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto
now returns the Virgin also, and the rule of Saturn;The constellation of Virgo.
now a new race is sent down from the highest heaven
And explains to some extent the resonance or importance of Queen Elizabeth 1. playing the role of The Virgin Queen.
Ean Begg inThe Cult of the Black Virgin lists locations in England that once had, and in some cases still have a Black Madonna.
I'm not sure how accurate his list is, at least two of the places he mentions seem to have been turned into schools:
Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk. This is England’s national shrine to Our Lady and Walsingham itself is referred to as England’s Nazareth. In 1061, just a few years before the Norman invasion, Dame Richeldis de Faverches, Lady of the Manor, had a vision whilst her husband was on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She was taken three times in the spirit to the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth by the Virgin and told to carefully note down its dimensions and make an exact reproduction of it in England. This she did and the shrine became one of the holiest places in all Christendom. Boarded up and damaged during the Reformation, the shrine has been repaired and reopened and is today the main place of pilgrimage in England. Although the modern statue is not black, Our Lady of Walsingham is the first and foremost Madonna of England and the Anglo Saxon English and as such is a powerful connection back to our ancient Mothers.
Our Lady of Glastonbury, Somerset. The original statue, believed to have been carved by St Joseph of Arimathea himself, was one of the few objects to survive the fire that destroyed most of the abbey in 1184. Unfortunately it no longer survives, probably destroyed during the Reformation. Glastonbury, with its powerful legend of being the site of the first Christian Church in Britain and resting place of the Holy Grail is also the mythical Avalon – the island of the dead.
Convent of the Holy Child, Mayfield in Sussex. This contains two Black Madonnas and is recognised as one of the most famous sites for Black Madonnas in the world.
Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse in Somerset. Called simply the ‘Black Madonna, this was acquired by the Abbey at the turn of the 20th century and carved around 1470 in Strasburg.
Church of Our Lady of Hal, London. Originally from Belgium, this appropriately named statue of Our Lady resonates with our ancient goddess Hel and of healing.
Roman Catholic Church of St Aldhelm’s in Malmesbury, Wiltshire – the only statue in England of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, strongly associated with earth goddesses in the Americas.
+Buckler’s Hard in Hampshire. This statue, dating from 1886, is located in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is of French origin.
+Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge. This is a dark oak statue from the former Dominican Priory of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Aylesbury Priory, Kent. This is a modern Black Madonna, carved in the 1950’s.Black Madonnas were made during the 11th to 15th centuries.
Modern ones are Jacob Epstein’s Madonna and Child (1950-52) found at the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Cavendish Square, London, and another to be found at Aylesbury Priory, Kent.. Carved in the 1950’s, but I don't know by whom.
And the most ancient ones?
Well it seems to me that the Madonna is a continuation of the double-female statue. I personally don't hold any store by the colour of the material they were made from, or the sex of the child.