Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Ave Maria (2)

Whilst away, I went on a "chruch crawl" of the nearest big city. One of the churches was a dark and uninviting affair by the banks of the river. Like many places in southern France, there is a shrine there to the "Black Madonna" and there can be no denying that despite the garish early 20th century surroundings of this statue, there was an atmosphere and a reverence around it that certainly isn't in proportion to its beauty. Invariably these statues are primitive at best and ugly at worst.

Picture from Wiki Commons

I was left wondering what this cult was all about. For starters, it is important to reclaim these statues from the occultists who see them as relating to some pre-Christian fertility goddess. These statues are Catholic, they are in Catholic churches and the Catholic faithful can attest to the intercession of various regional Black Madonnas over the centuries.

Then I was reminded of the words of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, that most scientific of mysitics. She gives a hypothesis, states the evidence, explains it and draws conclusions. Her style is succinct; some say dry, but I find it staggeringly beautiful.

After Jesus Christ, of course, and as far away as the infinite is from the finite, there exists a created being who was also the great "Praise of Glory" of the Most Holy Trinity. She correspondes fully to the divine vocation of which the Apostle speaks; she was always holy, unspotted, blameless in the sight of the thrice-holy God.

From the 15th day of her last retreat.

As far away as the infinite is from the finite, that is just it. These small Black Madonnas say just that, they are, if you like, a profound meditation on the smallness of the Incarnation and the infinity of what it contains. The black but beautiful in the Song of Songs springs to mind aswell. They are the humility of Our Lady before the majesty of the Blessed Trinity. They cannot be dismissed as "primitive".


Anonymous said...

This might sound like a silly story but I'll tell it anyway.
One of the most hideous statues as far as I was concerned was The Infant of Prague. It's a doll in a bad dress as far I as could see. So I had nothing to do with it.
Then I got a kind of nidge about the Divine Child - which, with a glance at pictures of the Iof P made me ignore the nudge.
I got few more nudges - ignroed them all.
Then my dd was admitted to hospital. She was just 1 and it was Christmas. She was so ill that she was unconscious most of the time. In went the drip and NG tube and the IV stuff but she was in a very bad way indeed.
I was very afraid she would die.
I sat in the hospital room with her and prayed my little soul out and as I prayed I saw the ward opposite. In the window was a massive statue of the Infant of Prague - all ugly and dressed in the red and gold with the ridiculously big crown on his head. I prayed and as I prayed I wondered how this hospital (NHS as it is) came to have such a statue and why it was in the window looking out towards the ward I was in. But it wasn't that interesting so I looked back at my sick child and prayed some more.
When I looked back the statue was gone. Was it ever there?
I don't know.
But she lived and I have gritted my "artistic" teeth and have a love for the hideous Infant of Prague.

Rita said...

"I of P" stands for Institute of Physics in this house!

But I agree with you, the Infant has a supernatural attraction and I don't know whether it is becuase the statue is so hideous or despite the fact the statue is so hideous. You simply can't ignore the Infant of Prague.....