• Niels Rosing-Schow
  • Black Virgin (2005)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 3(2pic).3(ca).3(2bcl).2+cbn/ (
  • 11 min

Programme Note

In several churches and monasteries around Europe, the Madonna statues are unmistakably dark. Sometimes she even has negroid features. Whether the blackening is due to the soot from centuries’ burning of wax candles, damage by fire or the fact that the statue actually pictures a black woman, since the Middle Age, these ‘black virgins’ have been said to possess special, miraculous qualities.

Many theories exist about these ‘genuine’ black virgins. Among other things, they have been associated with the black beauty of the Song of Songs ("niger sum sed Hermosa"), or they have been explained by the rubbing off of the Egyptian Isis cult of early Christianity; Isis, the goddess of the night, was often represented as a black woman.

Echoes of the possible cult-like interpretations as well as the mysteries of Christianity resound in the poem by the French writer Gilles Gourdon which forms the basis of the work Black Virgin.

Niels Rosing-Schow, 2005

Faded rose
Emits its perfume
In the dark
(Where the damned scream
The silence persists.)
But the secret trickles
In your pure eyes, oh High Virgin,
And the fresh death
Extends its palms

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