Presentations

The Black Madonnas of Italy
A Visual Presentation of the Dark Face of the Sacred Feminine
by Mary Beth Moser

Did you know that there are well over a hundred highly revered and miraculous images of the Virgin Mary in Italy that portray her with dark skin?

Madonna of Loreto, Italy

Some are famous, like the Madonna of Loreto shown here, whose image has been reproduced throughout the world. Others are barely known outside of their region. Yet their awesome power is no less.

In her presentations, Mary Beth Moser draws from her graduate thesis and ongoing research in which she explores the power and the mystery of the Black Madonnas found throughout Italy. During extensive field trips she has researched, photographed, and documented the enormous devotion to Italian Black Madonnas. From cities, to caves and mountaintops, Mary Beth has sought out shrines, churches, and sanctuaries that honor the Madonna’s venerated presence. Mary Beth’s presentations include a wealth of Black Madonna images rarely seen outside of Italy.

Mary Beth’s engaging narrative weaves together the facts and legends surrounding the Madonnas’ devotions and miracles, with stories of personal experiences, all of which reveal an ancient and living tradition and testify to the Black Madonna’s power to transform lives. While her presentations are focused on Italy, the insights she provides apply to other Black Madonnas found throughout Europe and the world. The specific information presented provides participants with the knowledge to recognize Black Madonnas; an awareness of the dark face of the sacred feminine as a powerful living symbol; and inspiration to discover and experience Black Madonnas in their travels.


“Your presentation was wonderful: organized, scholarly, AND deeply personal. The students were very inspired by you – as we all are.”

Dianne Jenett, Co-director, Women’s Spirituality Master’s Program, Sofia University, Palo Alto, California

“Your enthusiasm for the subject and your treasure trove of imagery enchanted our viewers. This was one of the most popular events of our programming year!”

Victoria Scarlett, Director, Center for Sacred Art, Seattle, Washington



Presentations, lectures, workshops, and interviews by Mary Beth Moser

  • “She Who Knows The Way: Agency and Awe in the Miracle Stories of Black Madonnas of Italy”, American Academy of Religion, Pacific Northwest Region, Tacoma, WA, May 2018
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy: Images, Miracles, and Traditions,” American Academy of Religion, Pacific Northwest Region, Tacoma, WA, April 2009
  • “The Metaformic Roots of the Black Madonnas of Italy,” graduate lecture, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, CA March, 2009
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” graduate lecture, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, October 2006
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” graduate lecture, New College of California, San Francisco, CA, December 2005
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” graduate lecture, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, December 2005
  • “Sardegna! Ancient Island, Timeless Island,” speaker for monthly program, Dante Alighieri Society, Seattle, WA, October 2005
  • “A Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna of Oropa,” invited presenter for The Black Madonna and the Womb of God Conference, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, June 2005
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” public presentation, Belladonna, Berkeley, CA, June 2005
  • “Hidden No More: The Black Madonna Adonai of Sicily,” presentation for She Is Everywhere book release event, Belladonna, Berkeley, CA, May 2005
  • “Sacred Sisterhood: The Black Madonnas of Italy and France,” presentation, Women’s Integral Leadership Center, Seattle, WA, February 2005
  • “Sardegna! Mediterranean Island of the Dark Goddess,” workshop, Women of Wisdom Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, February 2005
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” presentation for She Is Everywhere panel, annual conference, American Italian Historical Association, Annapolis, MD, November 2004
  • “Honoring Darkness: Exploring the Power of Black Madonnas in Italy,” Workshop, Women of Wisdom Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, February 2004
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” presentation, Center for Sacred Art, Ballard, WA, November 2003
  • “The Black Madonnas of Italy,” monthly speaker, Dante Alighieri Society, Seattle, WA, May 2003
  • “Honoring Darkness: Exploring the Power of Black Madonnas in Italy,” monthly speaker, Serpentina “Goddess is Alive” Lecture Series, Oakland CA, April 2003
  • “Honoring Darkness: Exploring the Power of Black Madonnas in Italy,” graduate lecture, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, April 2003
  • “Honoring Darkness: Exploring the Power of Black Madonnas in Italy,” graduate lecture, New College of California, San Francisco, CA, April, 2003

Radio interviews

  • “Voices of Women” on Transformation Talk Radio, hosted by Kris Steinnes, guest together with Mary Saracino on book release of She Is Everywhere! Volume 3, April 20, 2012.
  • “Sardegna/Italy Special” on Music of the World, KPFA Radio, 94.1 fm, Berkeley, CA. hosted and produced by Sandy Miranda. In-studio guest together with Dr. Lucia Birnbaum, June 2004