Cathedral of the Black Madonna: The Druids and the Mysteries of Chartres

Excerpts & Samples

By Jean Markale

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Jean Markale

Jean Markale
Jean Markale (1928-2008), was a poet, philosopher, historian, and storyteller, who spent a lifetime researching pre-Christian and medieval culture and spirituality. He was a former specialist in Celtic studies at the Sorbonne and author of more than 40 books, including Montségur and More...



Explores the connection between ancient druidic worship of a virgin at Chartres and the veneration of the Black Madonna

• Examines the Virgin Mary’s origins in the pagan worship of the Mother Goddess

• Identifies Mary with the dominant solar goddess of matriarchal societies

The great cathedral of Chartres is renowned the world over as a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and for its remarkable stained glass, considered alchemical glass, and its mystical labyrinth. But the sacred foundations of this sanctuary go back to a time long before Christianity when this site was a clearing where druids worshiped a Virgo Paritura: a virgin about to give birth. This ancient meeting place, where all the druids in Gaul gathered once a year, now houses the magnificent Chartres cathedral dedicated both to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and to one of the most venerated Black Madonnas in Europe: Our Lady of the Pillar. Coincidence? Hardly, says Jean Markale, whose exhaustive examination of the site traces Chartres’ roots back to prehistoric times and the appeal of the Black Madonna back to the ancient widespread worship of Mother Goddesses such as Cybele and Isis.

Markale contends that the mother and child depicted by the Black Madonna are descended from the image worshipped by the druids of the Virgin forever giving birth. This image is not merely a representation of maternal love--albeit of a spiritual nature. It is a theological notion of great refinement: the Virgin gives birth ceaselessly to a world, a God, and a humanity in perpetual becoming.

". . . this book will appeal to the serious scholar and the reader passionate about this unique cathedral; it is rich in information and ideas that can continue to be mined with each successive reading."
Paula Chaffee Scardamalia, ForeWord, Mar-Apr 2005

". . . a comprehensive discussion of not just the Black Madonna, but of one of the most amazing cathedrals ever built."
Publishers Weekly, Nov. 29, 2004

"Markale's examination traces the appeal of the Black Madonna back to ancient goddess legends and times and provides plenty of insights into Druid mysteries."
The Midwest Book Review

"Markale's linkage of the ancient Druid theology to the Catholic theology and its Marian devotion is a cogent work of historic research and religious considerations. Forget the 'DaVinci Code' and pick up this book instead."
Phil Hall, Arts and Entertainment, New York Resident

. . . a good case is made for the paranormal background of this architectural wonder and the foundations that lie in the mystic rituals of the Celts and the druids. Cathedral of the Black Madonna is a formidable work. . . .provides ample ground for imagination and speculation as to the inner life of our ancestors.”
W. Ritchie Benedict, Fate, July 2005

"If you have an interest in ancient cultures, goddess worship, the sacred nature of the cathedrals and those who built them, and the path of Gnosis, there is much to love in this book. . . . Read it, put it away and read it a few months later. You will see something within it that you did not see before."
Kathleen McGowan, The Expected One, Aug 2006