Black Madonna, Our Dear Lady in Kötschach
(schwarze Madonna, Unsere Liebe Frau in Kötschach)
In the parish church Our dear Lady in Kötschach, also known as the "Gailtaler Cathedral", in Kärnten.
Our Dear Lady of Kötschach seems to be the only original Black Madonna in Austria. All the others are copies of the Black Madonnas the Austrians hold most dear: 16 are copies of the Madonna of Loreto, Italy, at least 3 are copies of Our Lady of Einsiedeln, Switzerland, one is a copy of the Black Madonna of Altötting, Germany, and one of Chenstochowa, Poland (the Black Madonna of Unterfrauenhaid).
The church of Our Dear Lady of Kötschach was erected as a Marian pilgrimage site in 1399. It was damaged during the Turkish invasion in 1478 but repaired and rededicated in 1485, then expanded in 1518 – 1527.*1 The resulting church is of such rare beauty that it is called a Dom, i.e. cathedral, even though it is not the seat of a bishop. The Black Madonna is referred to as the central “image of grace” (Gnadenbild) that makes this shrine a place of pilgrimage. In the course of the 18th century alone, more than 100 miraculous cures were attributed to pilgrimages to this Dark Mother.*2 Nonetheless I am unable to find any information about her.
In front of the church is an ancient linden tree that was declared a natural monument. For more on Black Madonnas and linden trees see “Altötting” in this index.