The Black Madonna Our Lady of Romigier
Our Lady of Romigier church is home to many treasures, including a very old statue of the Madonna in alder wood. In all likelihood from the 12th century, this majestic Madonna is holding the Child on her left knee. She is veiled, wearing a coat fastened with a hook, and a long robe with a wide trim. The Child, also wearing a coat and robe, holds a closed book. They are both wearing a crown.
Originally this wood sculpture was not “black”, but painted as a recent restoration revealed when traces of polychromy (blue, red, pink etc.) were found. During the 19th century this statue was clothed and covered in abundant luxurious fabrics, as depicted by many ex-votos. It has always been a subject of devotion by the Manosque residents, considered a protector of the town and the inhabitants. According to a legend, the statue was discovered in the ground in the 10th century but a labourer, whose oxen had stopped before a bramble bush. A magnificent antique sarcophagus was unearthed, with the statue inside, intact. The sarcophagus is also exhibited in the church, where it is used as an altar. According to the legend, it had been hidden to protect it from the Saracens invasions… The statue was named Our Lady of Romigier because it was found under a bramble bush (roumi means bramble in Provençal language). And the same name was given to the church where it is now exhibited. This Black Madonna was often called upon to protect women in childbirth, to bring stillborn children back to life, and against fatal falls.