The original Black Madonna of Cusset
was found in the 10th century next to a spring of the local Benedictine
nunnery that had been founded in 882. According to Ean Begg, someone
decided that the statue should be taken to a town called Gannat,
but when she came to Cusset, as so often, the Black Madonna made
her own will known and refused to go any further. When no one could
move her, people conceded and built her a church in Cusset. Her
fame as a miracle worker spread quickly. Even kings came to her
on pilgrimage, bearing royal gifts. In1629 she stopped the plague
in her town.
Nonetheless none of that could save her from the revolutionaries.
During the night of December 5th 1793 she was burnt on a public
funeral pyre. A courageous woman by name of Geneviève Tuchard,
the baker’s wife, could only save her hands from the ashes.(*1)
They are kept to this day in the church’s treasury. They were
dated to the 10th century, not 12th or 13th as Begg and others say.
Interestingly they are adorned with bracelets inset with precious
stones and a Roman symbol representing Athena-Minerva.(*2)
Here we see again how Mary, and the Black Madonnas in particular,
took the thrones of Pagan goddesses.
Until the early 20th century
Our Lady of Cusset was carried in processions during times of general
emergencies, like droughts, etc.