At Oropa (Sanctuary) Monastery in Piemonte, Italy, there is a carved wooden statue that according to tradition was carved by Saint Luke (one of the 12 disciples of Christ Jesus). Historical tradition states that Saint Eusebius brought the wooden Statue of the Black Madonna from Jerusalem to Italy in the 4th Century. (Our thanks to a reader, who posted a comment a short time after we published and provided a link for pictures of the Black Madonna...Utpalavati).
Monestary where the Black Madonna is located
Note of interest to Devotees: Gurudev and a small group are in Bethlehem (birthplace of Christ Jesus) today, October 23, 2009.
The following story is by Swami Vishwaviayaananda: A journey by bus was arranged by Swami Vishwananda in March-April 2000 to visit places in Italy where the Divine Mother Mary is especially venerated. One evening we arrived at Oropa Monastery where we would spend the night. The sight is magnificent as the Monastery is perched on the snow-covered mountains. After we organized our belongings and dined in the refectory, we went to pray to the beautiful Black Madonna in the sanctuary…
Then we went into the outside courtyard and after we had admired a huge wooden crucifix, we sang a rosary. Swami began to sing his whole repertoire; it was never-ending. My feet were completely frozen, and I was seeing the other people shivering as well as no one had dressed to stay outside. I whispered to Swami: ‘If we stay outside any longer, people will catch a cold.’ He answered, “Nobody will get a cold. Never worry when you pray to God.” I kept silent afterwards; I was reassured but still frozen. We sang for another fifty minutes and then we went in and drank a well-deserved tea. [From this experience] I learned to be completely dedicated to God when I pray, and not to worry about anything else. For the rest of the days that followed [on this journey] everyone remained in good health.