|Although this is a very young Black Madonna she stands
on old holy ground, along the Jodokusweg (Jodok path), a 12 km long
pilgrimage way that circles Langenfeld, the Black Madonna, an ancient
holy well and a 15th century chapel in the woods. In Christian times
the well was dedicated to St. Jodok but it is likely much older. Jodok
was a 7th century prince of Brittany, France, who renounced his kingdom
to become a pilgrim, hermit, and founder of a small monastic community.
He is considered a patron saint of pilgrims, travelers, the sick and
blind. His well is reputed to cure diseases of the eyes.
One may wonder if this modern Madonna really qualifies as a Black
Madonna. I would say she shares many of the common charachteristics:
besides being dark, she is also close to Mother Earth, near a sacred
well, organized pilgrimages to her shrine still draw thousands of
faithful every fall, and she emerged independent of Church authorities.
When the Madonna was first discovered it was rumored that she appeared
in this niche miraculously in the Marian year of 1954. Later it
was established that she was offered to the world by the local artist
Jakob Klein (1914-1971). He must not have asked permission, but
simply built this little shrine to his Heavenly Mother and placed
her there unobserved.
This Mother of God also proves that the desire for a dark Mother
has not died out but is well and alive not only among New Age feminists
but also among conservative Catholics, and her connection to nature
The inscription at the feet of the Madonna reads:
Queen of Peace and Mother of the Poor, pray for us!
|Langenfeld is an interesting village. It houses a Tibetan
Buddhist retreat center. A friend of mine told me that the resident
Lama Sönam (a Tibetan priest) likes to visit the shrine of the Black
Madonna and the sacred Jodokus well because he experiences both as
holy places. The nearby chapel of St. Jost, named after Jodok and
considered part of Langenfeld, in turn seems to appreciate the Buddhist
spirit. A 1994 relief at the entrance portrays St. Jodok as a pilgrim
on the way to Santiago de Compostella, but the inscription comes straight
out of the Buddhist world: "The path is the goal" (Der Weg ist das
Directions: If you want to walk for about 3 hours through
the woods and four villages, take the Jodok path. It starts at St. Quirinus
church in Langenfeld and follows the letters "J". If you want to drive
closer, take the L10 from Langenfeld towards Mayen, turn right following
the signs to St. Jost. Park above the chapel. Leave the chapel on your
left, below. At the first T intersection of the path turn right. It's
about 10 minutes to the well and another 10 along a beautiful creek to
the Black Madonna.
For more info in German see: www.acht-eifel.de