VIERGES NOIRES 3

 

The French Revolution was bad news for Black Virgins. Some were destroyed, usually by burning, echoing what happened at many English shrines in the mid-16th century.

Sometimes devout people collected surviving fragments, often reincorporated in the modern statue, as at Cusset (1: Allier) and Notre Dame de Vichy in the church of St Blaise in nearby Vichy (2).

The 16th-century Notre Dame des Miracles at Orleans (3: Loiret), which replaced a statue where Joan of Arc prayed, survived the destruction of the church of St Paul in June 1940.

Sometimes there has just been a change to the way the image looks; the statue of Notre Dame des Houx (Our Lady of the Hollies) at Arfeuilles (4: Allier) was black until it was repainted in flesh tones in 1938, but is still venerated and processed today.

Perhaps the Black Virgin most familiar to English visitors is ND du Pilier (5) in Chartres Cathedral (Eure-et-Loir), which was given to the Cathedral in 1507 by Canon Wastin de Feugerets, but has only been on the pillar since 1806.

Further reading: Sophie Cassagnes-Brouquet, Vierges noires, ISBN: 978-2841562237

 

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