The Black Virgin of Montserrat: a copy at Barcelona CathedralThe Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland
"A Black Madonna or Black Virgin is a statue or painting of Mary, generally with the Christ Child, in which the skin of the faces and hand, appears dark, the term being especially applied to those created in Europe in the medieval period or earlier. In this specialized sense "Black Madonna" does not apply to images of the Virgin Mary portrayed as explicitly black African, a type of image popular in Africa and areas with large black populations, such as Brazil and the United States.
Some statues get their color from the material used, such as ebony or other dark wood, but there is debate about whether this choice of material is significant. Others were originally light-skinned but have become darkened over time, for example by candle soot. This is generally thought to be the explanation for most medieval "black" images of Mary, but this theory has been contested by those who believe that the color of originally-dark Madonnas had a more intentional significance.
The Black Madonnas are generally found in Catholic areas. The statues are mostly wooden but occasionally stone, often painted and up to 75 cm tall, generally dating from between the 11th and 15th centuries. They fall into two main groups: free-standing upright figures and seated figures on a throne. The pictures are usually icons which are Byzantine in style, often made in 13th or 14th century Italy. Their faces tend to have recognizably European features. There are about 450–500 Black Madonnas in Europe, depending on how they are classified. There are at least 180 Vierges Noires in France, and there are hundreds of non-medieval copies as well. Some are in museums, but most are in churches or shrines and are venerated by devotees. A few are associated with miracles and attract substantial numbers of pilgrims (Source: Wikipedia, retrieved November 14, 2011, link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna)."