The Black Madonna of the Darker than Dark Forest

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The place closest to my heart in the whole of Switzerland is the Monastery of Einsiedeln. “Einsiedeln” is a German word for “hermitage.” Surrounded by a dark, mysterious forest, situated near a scenic lake, adjacent to glorious mountain peaks, the place is second to none of the famous holy sites of the world in its beauty. It is in this area that Paracelsus was born, and perhaps more importantly – it is a place of worship of the Black Madonna of Einsiedeln, a delicate statue carved lovingly in lindenwood in the first centuries AD. She was a gift from Abbess Hildegarde of Zurich to Saint Meinrad, a monk who established the hermitage of Einsiedeln.

Meinrad was born into a privileged family but he felt he needed to walk his own path instead of rising in the ranks in an established monastery of Reichenau. He wanted to leave the familiar and…

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