Mystery of the Black Madonna

The Black Madonna has been a figure of mystery for centuries. Some say she’s simply a statue of the Virgin Mary carved from black wood, or perhaps has soot on her skin from the smoke of thousands of candles.  But speculation goes much deeper than that. Throughout Europe, especially in France, about 500 Black Madonnas, painted or carved in wood or stone, stand in Catholic churches, with a few in ... Read Full Article

Le Puy-en-Velay: Stepping Back in Time

  If it weren't for the cell phones and sunglasses, I'd have sworn we were in 16th-century France, walking on cobblestones and avoiding donkey dung on the streets of Le Puy-en-Velay. Peasants in plain brown tunics and aristocrats in velvet cloaks filled the narrow lanes, drinking ale from horns, buying meat pies, watching jugglers and stilt-walkers, and attending Mass in the ... Read Full Article