The Black Virgin of Rocamadour
by Naima S. Panow MD, FRCS

The Black Virgin


The story says. The original statue of Our Lady was carved by the chief tax collector ZACCHAEUS.


The gospel of Saint Luke chapter 19, 1-10 Jesus entered Jericho. There was a man named Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector and very wealthy. He was very short and could not see Jesus. He climbed a Sycamore tree, which was along Jesus route in order to see Jesus.

When Jesus came to the spot, he looked up and said, "Zacchaeus hurry down, because I must stay at your house today. ---to the end if Chapter 19.


The story says, Zacchaeus gave 50% of his wealth to the poor and promised to give back four folds of the amount he over collected from people. Zacchaeus left his job and followed Jesus. After the Crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus, Zacchaeus left Jerusalem. His uncle was a merchant and owns many ships. Zacchaeus joined one of the ships to France. The ship went to Marcellea. Zacchaeus left the ship walking on foot. After weeks there was a storm of bad weather. He entered a small village built on the side of the mountain. As soon as he looked at it, he said, "This is Rocamadour. It is like Jerusalem." He lived and died there.


Six hundred years later, the original carved statue of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus was, burned during fire.

The villagers, carved the same statue and was placed on the new church alter. The villagers used candles and oil burning light, the smoke affected the wood carved statue, the color changed to black.. That is why this statue was, called the Black Virgin. This is not the Black Madonna statue.


Rocamadour was, built on the side of the mountain. Each house used the face of the mountain as a wall and they attached the other three walls to make a room. Many rooms were, carved inside the mountain. Most of the village men and women worked as farmers.

We were, asked not to make loud noises, because the farmers sleep early. 

 The church was, built on the top of the mountain. Few years ago, they built the electric lift to help the older and the sick people to attend the mass.   


A miracle happened during one of the bus pilgrim trips to Lourdes. There was a nurse working at Westminster hospital in London. This nurse was crippled due to sever Rheumatoid Arthritis. She asked her family and friends to take her to Lourdes. The company refused at first. The family insisted and they offered to carry her in a blanket like a baby. During that trip, there was a storm. The bus was stuck in the mud and the driver tried with the help of other men to move the bus. It was getting dark and raining heavily, the driver decided to go on foot to find a place to move the passengers to a safe place. Somebody directed him to walk to the next village called Rocamadour.

                                  Abby on the Mountain


The villagers rushed to help them. They stayed in the small hotel. Next morning every one went to church to attend the mass. The sick nurse was, carried in the blanket as a small ball. Four men carried her to the church and placed her at the end of the small church. Her family told her, the priest would come and give you the communion as a last person.  


During the Communion, every one heard a loud noise. They rushed and found the sick nurse on the floor. She refused help. Slowly she crawled like a baby to reach to the rail of the alter, she was able to kneel and put her arms up to hold the rail. After receiving the body of Christ, she stood up and walked step by, step to reach her seat.


London newspapers never stopped talking about her. I know, one of the, ophthalmologist working at that hospital, Dr Casey was with me at the Royal college of Surgeons of London. He knew the nurse and told me all about this is true.

The nurse went back to work at the Westminster hospital and worked in the eye department. 


Since that time, Rocamadour was, added to the bus trip to Lourdes. It is very beautiful and peaceful village.


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