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.
Many of the copies below are considered miraculous “images of grace” with their own legends. They are certainly worth a visit, but all I can do here is give you a little taste of them and a piece of general history. I don’t usually include copies in this index.
The House of Habsburg, which held the throne of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438 – 1740 and ruled Austria till 1918, spread the Loreto cult all over its empire. This was part of the efforts to stem the tide of Protestantism with a Counter-reformation.*3 Loreto, with its Holy House of Mary, where the annunciation of Christ’s birth is said to have taken place, became a central piece of the Counter-reformation. The Marian litany of Loreto and more or less exact copies of the Holy House with its Black Madonna spread all over Europe. The German Wikipedia article on “ Loretokapelle” lists 16 Loreto chapels in Austria, 40 in Germany, etc. There used to be many more in Austria, but as times changed, quite a few of the Black Madonna chapels were transformed into different kinds of chapels.