A black Madonna, two oxen and a shepherd

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Today I want to share a legend about a black Madonna, two oxen and a shepherd. It goes back many centuries but is still alive today.


Sovereto is a very small village (you can count 150 people during summer :-)), not too far from Terlizzi (my hometown). It is famous in our area because of a church where the icon of a black Madonna is venerated.

The church is inside a hamlet where us kids were used to spend a full day playing and eating ice creams in late May or early June, during one of the last days at school.

The legend I want to share today is about a young shepherd, from Bitonto (one of the towns close by) that, trying to rescue a sheep, discovered the icon of a Madonna with her Son, in the underground. The land was in Terlizzi’s territory.

The guy, all exited, spread the news with everyone he met and soon the place became crowed.
People from Terlizzi claimed the icon was theirs because it was discovered in their land. On the other side, the citizen of Bitonto wanted the Madonna for themselves because of the shepherd’s origin.
To stop the fight, it was agreed to put the icon on a chariot pulled by two oxen, one from Terlizzi e and second from Bitonto. The Madonna would be owned by the village where the two oxen would go.
On their way, the ox from Terlizzi blinded the left eyes of the other guy with a goring, forcing him to deviate towards the path that led to his own stable: in Terlizzi.

Since then, the Madonna of Sovereto is the Patron of my hometown and is celebrated twice a year. The biggest event happens in August and is amazing… but I’ll tell you more another time 🙂


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