These later days of summer during the harvest time are when Sicilians celebrate the Madonna, or “our lady,” the mother, with great reverence — in other words, our planet, Mother Earth. The dark, fertile earth provides for us and gives us sustenance, and since ancient times, throughout the Mediterranean, the spirit of the giving goddess has been venerated in the form of different female deities. Pictured here are souvenirs of the Black Madonna of Tindari, a Christian descendant of the great mother goddess Cybele who was worshiped since Roman times on the promontory known then as Tyndaris.
Cybele’s cult hailed from Anatolia, the peninsula where you’ll find modern-day Turkey. She was a goddess of fertility and of wild nature and was also a healer. Intriguingly, no one knows from where the sacred and renowned Byzantine statue of La Madonna Nera di Tindari (mimicked here for these keepsakes) came — except that it arrived on a boat “from the east,” just like the veneration of the goddess Cybele.