Lloseta is a small town on the island of Mallorca. On the Avenue del Coco, right above the cave where this dark mother (moreneta) was discovered, is an oratory with a 1975 copy of her. The original 13th century Madonna was moved into the village church “Mare de Deú de Lloseta”, probably to keep her safe from thieves. photo: Semir Attallah
Mother of God of Lloseta,
Mother of God of the Coco
The legend of Lloseta echoes that of nearby Lluc, which echoes many elements of Black Madonna legends around the world. Did people not have enough imagination to come up with a new story? Did the same thing, with slight variations really happen over and over again? Are there some underlying emotional and religious needs that get channeled into these stories? Yes, obviously Black Madonna legends arise out of certain human needs, otherwise they wouldn’t be circling the globe. I also believe it’s entirely possible that the divine is sympathetic to those needs and seeks to fulfill them. What needs? A, the need for a strong, sacred feminine element that is connected to the earth. B, the need for peace and reconciliation between different races and religions during centuries of wars, occupation and re-conquests.
Mayorca was occupied by Muslims for more than 300 years, from 902 till 1229. I suppose it took more than one Black Madonna being found by a Muslim shepherd to establish Catholicism as an acceptable religion for the whole population, lighter skinned Spaniards and darker skinned Moors.
Here’s how the story of the Mother of God of the Coco goes: One day in the 13th century, a Muslim shepherd was pasturing his sheep near a seasonal creek called Torrent d’Almadra when a resplendent light appeared at a place called a “coco”, i.e. a little cave in the rock, which fills with water when the creek is running. The shepherd went to tell the people of the surrounding villagesAyamans, Lloseta, and Robines about this phenomenon, so they would accompany him and investigate it together. In short order a group of people entered the cave, moved a stone slab and found a dark skinned image of the Virgen Mary. Since there were no chapels in Lloseta or Ayamans, everyone agreed to take her to the church of Rubines in a solemn procession. She was properly installed and the church securely locked. The next morning the faithful returned to pray to the Mother of God, but they didn’t find the statue in the church.
They searched everywhere until they found her on the spot where she had been discovered. She was taken back to the church and locked even more securely in a proper vitrine. The next day, you guessed it, she went back to her cave. This time the people understood that she wished to be venerated in that place.
For six centuries she remained in her chosen place. Then, in 1884, the more famous Black Madonna in nearby Lluc (20 km, i.e. 1/2 hr to the South) was canonically crowned. This inspired the people of Lloseta to also ask for a special blessing of recognition for their Madonna. The local bishop agreed under the condition that a proper chapel would be built to house the Madonna, one with an altar that could be blessed, a place where holy mass could be celebrated. He wasn’t going to bless some wild, little cave sanctuary where there wasn’t room for an altar. Consequently in 1888, a nice little oratory was constructed right above the cave. It’s sad to me (though not surprising) that the intention of the Queen of Heaven to be sought in nature wasn’t respected. Now she dwells in a shrine slightly removed from the place of her “apparition”, but people still go to the ‘coco’ below to touch the sacred place that is said to heal certain ills.
Tradition also recounts that this Madonna once saved her village from a famine.
Her feast days begin on the Wednesday following Easter, when the faithful gather at her shrine for a picnic. In September she is honored with a festival and procession from the village church to the chapel “Virgen del Coco”.