In Southern Provençal tradition, the Black Madonna is associated with St. Sara, the patron saint of the Gypsies. She was said to be the black assistant who accompanied the three Marys to France when they fled from the Holy Land after the Crucifixion. In local gypsy tradition, she is said to have been a gypsy (some say 'Egyptian') woman who helped them to land safely. A cult of St. Sara persists today at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, one of the earliest Magdalene sites in France.
I've become quite taken recently with the Black Madonna, since having read the most excellent
AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING
by Alexander Ramati.
In sooth, I am quite pagan in spirit, thought, word and deed and, if truth be know, shy away from
things such as the Madonna, having spent horrific years in Catholic school as a child and subsequently growing up in a world where time and again so called religious persons displayed behaviors toward myself and others that curdled my inner being.
It isn't as though I don't *like* Jesus.
I like him well.
But from my first memory in kindergarten of being slapped until I pee'd my pants because I couldn't tell a story about a picture of the Baby Jesus-my wee mind went so blank I can still recall the absolute terror to this day-(though funny how I grew up to be a storyteller.....go figure...) to adult encounters with those who would wish to *convert* me at all costs-I just run at the mention of God and the Heavens.
With that said, (and those are *my* trials and tribulations to overcome)
as I grow older I find that I am realizing I, without fail, for years have automatically closed my mind to anything even remotely religious in nature. Mention religion and I stop listening.
Now really, Mimi, how fair is that?
And now, Ramati's most wonderful book brought to light for me a people who struggled through persecution, never losing the firm grasp on their culture or their beliefs. I was in awe of their fortitude.
Perhaps it's time I opened my mind and did a wee bit of exploring.
A closed mind is a terrible thing......no matter the direction.
And perhaps one day, I'll tell that story about the Baby Jesus..........
I look forward to exploring this history.
Thanks for sharing with me.