Known as Notre Dame la Noire or de Bethléem, there are two versions of how this Black Madonna from the 12th century came to be on the altar of the Chapel of St. Ursula: (1) it arrived alone in a boat and (2) it was brought back from the Crusade against Rhodes in 1310 by a Commander of the Knights of St. John (who superceded the Templars at Pézenas). Except for a brief period during the French Revolution (when it was saved by Mesdemoiselles Bézard and Vidal), a lamp has remained lighted in front of the shrine night and day since 1340. Napoleon III dedicated a lamp in her shrine to gain her support for his army assisting the Lebanese Maronites against the Turks in 1860. She is said to have protected against epidemics in 1852 and 1854 and against drought in 1840 and 1947. She is notable for her stern, masculine face. From a Jungian alchemical perspective, she represents the entire Process—beginning with blackness (which stands for primary material and the Collective Unconscious) through the whiteness (release of the spirit) of her robes to the gold (transformation of ignorance to Wisdom) of her embroidery and crown. The Curé who unlocked the doors of the Chapel for me also directed me to nearby St. Jean de Bebian Cathedral, there is another Black Madonna which is not generally in public view.

The image was taken in 1999 in Pézenas, France, in 35mm format under available light conditions using high-speed transparency film. It is printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag archival paper with an Epson 9800 printer using 3-K archival Ultrachrome inks. The mat is 4-ply, museum-quality, acid-free, unbuffered mat board.

The image is printed in the following editions: 25 are 20 x 24 in (mat size 32 x 29 in); 50 are 20 x 16 in. (mat size 32 x 29 in.); 100 are 14 x 11 in. (mat size 20 x 17.5 in.) Click on INFORMATION to call or email for prices.