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The Black Madonna

As late as at the end of the last century almost every family in Brno had a copy of the painting of the Madonna and Child that had been originally displayed in the Church of St. Thomas. Painted in oil on wood, the painting is so dark that the Virgin Mary used to be called the Black Madonna of St. Thomas. Legend has it that the Black Madonna was painted by Saint Luke. Empress Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, then brought it from the Holy Land to Constantinople. A few centuries later King Vratislav gained possession of the painting and had it put into his treasure-house in Prague Castle, where it was stored until the  reign of Charles IV. When Charles became Emperor he consigned the  Margravate of Moravia to his brother John. Under his administration the  land began to flourish, and Brno was not forgotten. After a short time he had St. Thomas`s church built and, adjacent to it, a monastery into which he invited the monks of the Augustinian order. The solemn consecration was also attended by Charles IV who loved his brother deeply and thus donated to him the painting of the Black Madonna for the church. The priceless work of art soon attracted people from far and wide, all wanting to venerate the image, not only for its beauty but also because they believed it was miraculous, and could help in times of illness and misery. During the Thirty Years' War, when the Swedes were making their final attack on Brno on 15 August 1645, women gathered in the Church of St. Thomas in order to take out the painting of the  Madonna and the Child. They then carried it through the city, praying for salvation. The Virgin Mary did indeed come to their aid, for the  city was saved. Under Joseph II the Augustinians, as well as other orders, were forced to leave their monastery in the city. They managed to obtain from the Emperor permission to carry away the most valuable possession of the Church of St. Thomas: the Black Madonna. Thus the  painting moved along with them to the monasterial church in Old Brno were it has hung to this day above the high altar.
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  • Last update: 21.07.2011 07:38
  • Last update: 21.07.2011 07:38
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