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The Black Madonna of Ostrov  

The beautiful Chapel of Our Lady of Einsiedeln stands on a hillock near the monastery. The statue of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child is seated amidst golden clouds. The face and the hands of the Madonna are black. It is no wonder that this unique statute is veiled in legend.

When the chapel was built and heavy stones for the chapel pillars and stairs had to be dragged up to the hillock, the Devil himself offered his services to the builder, asking for his soul in return. The construction work continued quite swiftly, as though the heavy load was carried up by invisible hands. The chapel soon stood before the builder in all its glory. After fulfilling his task, the Devil returned and asked for his reward. In fear and despair, the builder sought refuge at the statue of the Holy Mother and hid behind it. The Devil, hungry for his prey, touched the statue and behold! The face and the hands of the Holy Mother and the Holy Child turned black while the Devil's face turned white.

As the Devil could not come back with a white face, he offered the builder that he could keep his soul if he returned the white colour to the Holy Mother and the Devil would thus become black again. The builder tried to colour the statue in white over and over again, yet, to the Devil's dismay, the Madonna remained black just as the Devil's face retained its white colour. The raging Devil stormed out the door and into the chapel to turn it into a ruin, nonetheless, all he was able to do, was to imprint his bleeding hand in the stone. The furious Devil dug his hands and head into black soil and vanished and the builder was saved.

Even today, though, we can still see the imprint of the Devil's bloody fingers over the entrance door to the chapel. The Madonna is black and it will remain that way regardless of how many times it is repainted white.

In memory and in gratitude for the recovery of her eldest son, Margravine Franziska Sybilla Augusta of Baden ordered the building of a chapel in the slope near the Piarist Monastery in Ostrov between 1709 and 1710. It is a copy of the pilgrimage Chapel of Our Lady in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. It was namely to the Our Lady in Einsiedeln where the margravine set out on a pilgrimage and who allegedly heard her pleas. The margravine received the plans for the chapel from the abbot of the Benedictine Monastery in Einsiedeln, as well as a copy of the statue of the merciful Madonna, which stands on the altar in the chapel in Ostrov surrounded by a wraith of golden clouds and lightning.

Adapted from: Loose adaptation according to Alfred Wolf: Aus unseren Sagenschatze, 1931, translated by Z. Čepeláková
Literature: Kuča, K.: Města a městečka v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku (Cities and Towns in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia), volume 4, Libri, Praha 2000