©Photographe|Serge GELABERT

The Black Virgin, Réunion’s protector

The story of the black virgin of Reunion

Although the charm of the sugar-cane fields alone is worth the detour, people come here primarily to pay homage to the Black Virgin.
The statue of the Black Virgin can be found at Rivière des Pluies, near the church of Sainte Marie. It is said that she once saved a runaway slave, and since then, she has been venerated by the islanders, who faithfully decorate her statue with flowers.

The legend of the Black Virgin

The legend of the Black Virgin tells the story of a slave named Mario. The property of a wealthy landowner in Sainte-Marie, Mario decided to flee to regain his freedom and took refuge near the Rivière des Pluie. Frightened by hunters who had spotted him, he prayed to the little black virgin he had placed in a hollow in a rock.
As the hunters approached him, branches of bougainvillea sprang up to protect Mario. The more efforts the hunters made to try to reach him, the denser the vegetation became, preventing them from reaching their prey. Years later, the small statue was replaced by that of the Black Virgin you can see today.

Did you know?

Today, many pilgrims still flock to the site of the Black Virgin to pray to her in the hope of a miracle. People come from all over the island to engage in private prayer near the statue.