Ex votos in Pompeii – an interview with Monsignor Pietro Caggiano

This week I interviewed Monsignor Pietro Caggiano of the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii – home to a significant collection of ex votos which has accumulated since the Sanctuary’s foundation at the end of the nineteenth century. Monsignor Caggiano has written about the theology of ex votos, and he is currently curating an exhibition of ancient…

Banner carried by fujenti

The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco

Earlier this week I visited the Catholic sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco in Campania on the day of its annual festival, which takes place every Easter Monday (or ‘Lunedi in Albis’). The festival centres around the battenti or fujenti – guilds of devoted pilgrims who walk or run to the church from towns and villages across…

Ceramic medallion with image of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow.

Of Things Taken and Left Behind: A Visit to a Russian Cemetery in France

Urmila Mohan earned her doctorate in anthropology from University College London. She is the editor of the Material Religions blog. She recently published “Dressing God: Clothing as Material of Religious Subjectivity in a Hindu Group”, in the edited volume “The Social Life of Materials: Studies in Materials and Society.” In November 2015, I visited the Russian cemetery (le…

A votive offering at the tomb of Abdul Salaam ibn Mashish, an important wali of Morocco

The City of Saints: Seeking the Friends of God in Fes

Peter Dziedzic is a Fulbright grantee studying Sufism in Morocco. Among his interests are the practices of pilgrimage and saint veneration in the ancient city of Fes. Peter will soon expand his research on these phenomena to other parts of the Islamic world. He eventually hopes to pursue comparative work on sainthood in Christianity and…

Love Locks: Votive deposits or destructive vandalism?

Ceri Houlbrook is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester Love-locks are exactly what the title suggests: padlocks purchased and employed worldwide as statements of romantic commitment. Typically a couple (often tourists), having inscribed their names/initials on a padlock, will attach it to the railings of a bridge or other structure, and will…

The keys to the sanctuary

A new Italian catalogue records the results of recent excavations at the ancient Faliscan sanctuary of Monte Li Santi-Le Rote at Narce, which is located 9km south of the ancient settlement of Falerii (modern Civita Castellana). The assemblage of votives from this sanctuary is completely unique, and the publication, entitled I Tempi del Rito [Times…

Votives and conflict: postscript

A few weeks ago I wrote a post inspired by an article published in 1918, in which the classicist Eugene S. McCartney described some of the votive objects and dedicatory activities that he had encountered at holy sites during the First World War. The sites he visited included the cathedral of St. Andre, Bordeaux (France)…

A Timeline of Offerings from the Source of the Douix

Katherine M. Erdman has recently completed her doctorate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota. The Source of the Douix, a freshwater spring situated within the town of Châtillon-sur-Seine, has been visited by local inhabitants for the past 2,500 years. While there is a strong tradition of spring veneration in eastern France during the Gallo-Roman period…

Votives on Mount Banahaw

Paul-François Tremlett is Lecturer in Religious Studies at The Open University, UK From 1999-2000 and again in 2003 and 2009 I conducted field work on the slopes of Mount Banahaw among religious movements venerating the Filipino national hero José Rizal as the Filipino Christ, and healers who regard the mountain as a site of spiritual…

Offerings in Bangalore

Peter Stewart is Director of the Classical Art Research Centre and Associate Professor in Classical Art and Archaeology in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford. In the first posting on this blog, Jessica Hughes mentioned an intriguing case of ephemeral votives — the sort of offering that leaves no traces for archaeologists to…

Graffiti as ex-voto?

Most of the votives that we have featured so far on this blog are objects in the conventional sense – three-dimensional ‘things’ that can be held, carried into a sanctuary, and get moved around once they are in there. And it’s probably true that most people – if asked to ‘think of a votive offering’…

Handing over the votive chicken

Votive chickens

Every year on the Sunday after Easter, the town of Pagani – situated between Naples and Salerno – celebrates the feast-day of the Madonna delle Galline, or ‘Madonna of the Chickens’. The festival has become quite well known throughout Italy in recent years on account of the traditional tammorre music that gets played there. The…