Q: Could you give me more information on the statue, "Virgen Morena" of Toledo, Spain, especially on its relationship to the "Virgen Blanca" in Toledo? 

[White Virgin]

La Virgen Blanca
Toledo, Spain

A: The Virgen Blanca is derived from the more specific title of "Virgen de las Nieves" (Our Lady of the Snows) influenced by the devotion to Mary Major (Maria Maggiore) in Rome. However, the whiteness or brilliance attributed to Mary has symbolic character. Raimundo Giordano relates John 1,9 to Mary. She is "la blancura de la luz eterna, porque por medio de Ella veremos la luz eterna..." (Vives, Dictionarium Marianum, 49). For Richard of Saint Laurent, Mary reflects the eternal light ("candor est enim lucis aeternis"), too. Pedro Lopez de Ayala (14 c) sings the praises of "Virgen Blanca" in the sanctuary of Toledo Cathedral: "Sennora mia muy franca - por ti cuydo ir muy cedo / servir tu imagen muy blanca - de la Iglesia de Toledo." By contrast, the virgin morena falls into the category of black madonnas, first and foremost because of the black color of her face and visible extremities. It is interesting to note that in the case of Toledo, we are dealing with the one and same statue. The virgen blanca (15 c) is a virgen morena. The statue of the very dark patroness of Toledo, represents the statue of "la esclavitud de Nra Sra del Sagrario." This points to an important conclusion. Many people believe that the "black madonna" corresponds to a special invocation or title of Mary. In fact, the label "black madonna" designates the color of a statue which bears a different title or invocation, in this case that of the"Virgen Blanca."


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