|This is one of those interesting Black
Madonnas with white Baby Jesus, the Yin and Yang of popular Catholicism,
if you will. For more details and other examples see Foggia
paintings, San Severo, and Chipiona.
Legend recounts that this statue was found by a farm worker called
Esteban Solís Palomares on April 26th 1232. It was only six
years after the Muslim occupation of the area ended and the local
farmers dared to expand their territories, tilling soil that had
long lain fallow. That day his team of mules all of a sudden had
a hard time continuing in their path. He beat them onward until,
with great effort, they unearthed a big church bell. When he cleaned
it up a bit, he found that a beautiful Madonna and Child were hidden
inside. Full of emotion, not only he but also the mules fell on
their knees and stayed there a long while absorbed in adoration.
This was the first miracle the Black Madonna worked in that town.
Once Esteban composed himself again, he picked the image up, and
leaving behind the mules yoked to the plow, headed for the village.
Some people who saw what was going on, followed him, and so the
first of many procession of the Virgin began.
Esteban headed straight to the village council with his precious
cargo and told his story. With great solemnity it was decided to
place the Madonna in the Chapter House where she was adored by all
who heard about the event. That same day the village council and
clergy held a public meeting at which it was agreed to call the
image Virgin of Collado, after the site where she was found, to
build her a hermitage in that same place, and to make her the patroness
of their town.
During the construction of her first hermitage Our Lady was placed
in an old Romanesque church at the foot of the castle. The following
year the town took a solemn vow to hold festivals every year in
honor of the Black Madonna on Pentecost, the day of the coming of
the Holy Spirit. They continue to this day.
Drawing by Jacinto Higueras Cátedra