Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plague -Plague Columns - Marian Columns - Mary the Protector

In Eastern and Central Europe, supplications against recurrence of Plague, and gratitude for deliverance, take the form of Marian Columns in many towns, or Plague Columns. In the Czech Republic, there was a particularly virulent epidemic in about 1680, that led to many towns constructing in about 1715 these Plague or Marian, Columns. Here, at Kutna Hora, in the Czech Republic, see Mary at the top with her crown of stars, and the piles of shapes beneath, leading up like so many agonizing buboes, to where she finally rests. See Czech Republic Road Ways. Read about this town in the Czech Republic that lists its Marian Column. // Or, see its extreme form - almost ugly in its representation of lump-like pustules, at Olomuc, CZ. Do your own Images search for Olomouc Marian Column.

How did Mary arise to this position, as somehow a safety source from death? No direct answer, but some religious groups give roundabout ones: It looks like when it comes down to absolute devastation, a goddess figure works better. Theologians among us?

How humans react to unfathomable disaster. There are many fountains and other kinds of memorials to the era of the Black Death, and how people tried to expiate whatever forces were bringing it on again and again. There were at least three forms of it.

This fountain showing death, disease and suffering from the Plague I believe was in Oberammergau, Germany, or perhaps Garmisch.

A familiar memorial and way to keep the Plague from coming again is the pledge to act a play out in Oberammergau, Germany, every ten years. The next will be in 2010. See Other sources:

The Plague affected politics, culture, religion, society. See also "The Black Death, Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe" by Robert S. Gottfried, The Free Press, 1983.

One site focuses on the specific outbreak 1347-1350, and focuses on the rat infestation and rats as carriers of the fleas that passed on the Plague, see

Climate change - attention, out there - can also be dispositive in how a disease spreads. Other sources say it was not just the rodent infection. That combined with climate change 1050-1347, to extreme cold and wet; then add the movements west of the Huns and others from the East, carrying Plague from where Plague seems to have originated in conditions there, and the carrying of it from port to port. Then, a period of respite, perhaps 8-10 years, maybe more, and it came again. The sick rats died, the survivors began to reproduce again, the infection was still being fostered by the climate and other conditions, and it began again. And again.

Over a hundred years. 1350-1500. Enormous and repetitive depopulation. Overall perhaps a third of the European population died. In each bout, maybe 10% here, 30% there, 50% somewhere else, and then it all began again in differing proportions. And smallpox, measles.

But many modern medicine and religious and literature ideas began with coping with Plague, as did great social and economic change. Bubonic Plague. The Plague. The Black Death.

For more general info, see

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Black Madonnas: Medieval (and earlier); early pagan roots?

Finding Black Madonnas

As we find more, we add:  Black Madonna at Maria Plain, Salzburg, Austria, at Austria Road Ways, Maria Plain, Black Madonna? As I recall, there was also a copy at Maria Plain of the Jasna Gora Black Madonna.  Someone go back. Also visit Mariazell, Austria. Note that this site does not even mention she is black, at

For our older list of Black Madonnas:

1.  Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna, Church of St. Mary, Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna at the Church of Saint Mary, Gdansk, Poland. There as another Black Madonna at that Church, that looks like a copy of the Black Madonna at Jasna Gora Monastery, also in Poland.

No further information yet.

Note that this may not be a Black
Madonna" because there is no child. The inscription looks like a Russian reference, by the script - but we are not expert on that.  See Poland Road Ways.

2. Mont St. Michel, France
Black Madonna, Mont St. Michel, France

Black Madonnas are found throughout Europe, and seem to date from the early middle ages, mostly. Some may be earlier, and the legends and stories explaining them are varied.

For a background for these, and where they are, black virgin statues at; and Eann Begg's at
There is a theory to fit each person's predisposition as to why. No one explanation fits them all. See, for a history of black madonnas.

Here is the Black Madonna at Mont St. Michel, France. See if you agree that our western religious orientation is to downplay the role of the black, and lands connected to our Bible that were in Africa, see Martin Luther's Stove, Translation Serving a Cultural Agenda.

See also ://

3.  Altotting, Germany

Black Madonna, Altotting, Germany
This is the Black Madonna at Altotting, Germany.
We also saw another Black Madonna at Guadalupe, Spain. This was a tiny triangular shaped Madonna with a tinier head, very high up, and with a multitude of costumes on display that change with the seasons and feast days.

These places are usually also pilgrimage destinations.  Another site names another black madonna at Altotting, see the small A-shape, doll-like form that appears in many places, at ://  The explanation there is that her face is darkened by the centuries - but somehow the face of the child remains light. 

4.  Jasna Gora, Czechestochowa, Poland; and Wroclaw Poland

Black Madonna, Wroclaw, Poland (copy of Jasna Gora?)
This is the Black Madonna at Wroclaw, Poland, apparently a copy of the original at Czestochowa, Jasna Gora Monastery, Poland. Do an "images" search for Black Madonna, Jasna Gora, and see the similarities - no photos were permitted of it.

See discussion re the broadly different representation of the Black Madonna in the Jasna Gora gift shop (different dress, and elaborate crowns, and varying skin tones available for purchase, including pale Caucasian white), at Poland Road Ways.

No one explanation fits all the Madonnas. Some charred, others originally black, others buried. This source presents the thesis that white madonnas were later in time than the black madonnas. Some find African origins. See
Here is a picture of the small and high on the wall Black Madonna at Guadalupe, Spain. Too high for a good picture using my camera: See

5. Copy of Jasna Gora at Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna, St. Mary's Church, Gdansk, Poland (copy of Jasna Gora)

Here is a copy of the Jasna Gora Black Madonna at Gdansk, Poland, also showing the same kind of clothing as at Wroclaw.

Even the "images" search shows some versions with the crowns and different dress, and I can't remember the original any more. I thought I was buying a picture of it, but apparently not. Someone go check it out?

This is a different concept from the "inculturated" black madonnas that reflect a cultural depiction, so that there would also be madonnas with the facial features and skin tones of the people whose conversion is sought; or ones with features like those of the faithful in the area. See What color was Mary? Or Jesus? What does it say about us, that we have to ask?

See this site for connections to pagan black goddesses, see

I looked up official images of Mary at this site,, but found none of the Black Madonnas.