The Mother of God of Colls is enthroned
in the most amazing Baroque altar called 'the Altar of Colls'.(*2)
It fills a whole chapel of the otherwise very simple Romanesque
church. It's like a cave lit up with a golden light from Heaven.
That light has a story to tell, the story of salvation through
Mary. It depicts words from the 'Hail holy Queen' (Salve Regina)
prayer, the litany of Loreto, and from the Magnificat. I particularly
like the detail (see photo below) where God the Father blesses
Mary as she shows Jesus how to breast feed the world, i.e. how
to nourish and nurture it with your essence.
The church is part of a defunct monastery that was founded in
885 A.D. by the Benedictines. A few architectural remnants of
that time have survived, but most of the church is from the 11th
Legend has it that one day two monks went out into the mountains,
seeking the tranquility of God’s creation. A shepherd watched
them from some distance. At one point he overheard them argue
with a person who seemed to stand near them. The shepherd couldn’t
see the person, but when the two monks left alone he went to find
out who they had been talking to. With great joy he discovered
that it was this Black Madonna.
Later the shepherd witnessed a crowd of people who came and got
the Madonna with a devout procession. From then on she resided
in the monastery church.
Nobody knows when these events occurred, but from time immemorial
the local population has carried their Black Madonna in a yearly
procession on the Day of Prayers (Día de las Rogaciones)
to the place where she was found.