Our Lady, the Black Virgin of Halle, Meerschaum Carving in Glass and Metal Case

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This antique carving of the Black Madonna of Halle, depicts Our Lady atop a mound of cannonballs. She has intricately carved features and wears an intricately carved gown as well. She holds Christ's crown in one hand and flowers in the other. The Holy Spirit appears above her own crown, and rays and clouds stream and billow from behind her. O.L.V. van Halle and N.D. de Hal appear at the bottom below the cannonballs. Please note the significant wear around the edges of the meerschaum as well as the denting to the metal frame. There is a small metal loop at the top of the frame by which to display the piece, if one chooses to do so. Dimensions are 2.24 X 1.75.

The story behind this Black Madonna, from http://interfaithmary.net/blog/halle:

After the reformation, a fierce struggle engulfed Belgium as Catholics and Protestants fought for control over the country. Our Lady of Hal, as the most ancient and most important Marian shrine of Belgium, became the symbol and rallying point for Belgium Catholics. Therefore the Protestants, who had already demolished so many statues, made it a priority to destroy the Black Madonna of Hal as well. In 1580 the deciding battle took place. An overwhelming Protestant army laid siege to the town, bombarding it with canon balls. But, legend says, the Queen of Heaven appeared on the city walls and intercepted the fiery balls in her lap. The gunpowder turned her black. The grateful population brought hundreds of canon balls that had landed inside the city walls to Our Lady, piling them under her bell tower. 32 of those are still kept in the church.

Other miracles attributed to this Black Madonna include saving the city from another siege in 1489, raising people from the dead, and healing many sick. In 1667 an epidemic ravaged the city and did not stop until on the first Sunday in September the Black Madonna was carried in a fervent procession along a path that stopped at all the churches and chapels of Hal dedicated to Our Lady. This so-called Wegom (big tour) is still followed with a solemn procession every year on the first Sunday in September. Pilgrims also walk this Wegom individually. It takes about 1 1/2 hours. The traditional 'small tour' is to circumambulate the altar space containing the statue three times (but not during masses).

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