Catholic Dictionary




National Shrine of Our Lady near Turin, Italy. St. Eusebius, on his way back from the Holy Land after his exile during the Arian heresy, brought to the hermitage chapel at Oropa a statue of the Madonna. Later he died there. Mary of the shrine is called the Black Madonna because the Mother and Child in the three-foot-high statue have jet black faces and hands deliberately colored by the original carver. When Biella was saved in the 1599 plague, which decimated the entire section, the commune decided to build a larger sanctuary. The main temple, or church, was to have an outer and an inner court within which the original first shrine was to be enclosed. A second coronation of the Black Madonna by Pope Clement XI took place in 1720, the centenary of the first coronation. The buildings today are as they were then. Oropa has become a veritable city of chapels, inns, hospitals, shops, offices, theater, and museum attached to the shrine. The statue shows Our Lady standing, the Holy Child seated on his Mother's left arm. Mary's head carries the triple crowns of 1620, 1720, 1820, surrounded by a hoop of gold with twelve diamond stars representing her fourth papal crowning in 1920. The list of recorded miracles here is astounding. In 1918 the Redemptorists were asked by the Holy See to take care of the shrine.