An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or to a divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion.
Ex-votos are placed in a church or chapel where the worshiper seeks grace or wishes to give thanks.
The destinations of pilgrimages often include shrines decorated with ex-votos.
Ex-votos can take a wide variety of forms. They are not only intended for the helping figure, but also as a testimony to later visitors of the received help.
As such they may include texts explaining a miracle attributed to the helper, or symbols such as a painted or modeled reproduction of a miraculously healed body part, or a directly related item such as a crutch given by a person formerly lame. There are places where a very old tradition of depositing ex-votos existed, such as ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
The "Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares" in Coyoacán, Distrito Federal, Mexico, in 2011 held an exhibition of very interesting LGTB ex-voto (also called retablos), titled Plegarias Atendidas. Colección de exvotos mexicanos. The show was an interesting collection of Mexican ex-votos, or alterpieces, the result of extensive ethnographic investigations in Mexico.
Ex-votos are small paintings of religious thanks, or appreciation which ask for miracle or favour. The giver prays to the Virgin or their chosen saint, requesting to be granted a miracle or a favour - if these come to pass, a kind of shrine is made to illustrate the situation, in return for the favour.
In other words, ex-votos are the illustration of a miracle which acts as an offering to who might make it happen.
In these rituals is a strange mix of elements - the popular imagination, people and situations which reflect a cosmogony previous to Catholicism, reflecting the paradoxes of faith.
Behind every ex-voto is a personal story, and a story of the country. They are imprinted with the most important values of each generation, and the things that move, and motivate a society. In their images, historians find a perfect window through which to see the social changes suffered by Mexico.
We decided to search other images and we are now offering them to you. If you happen to have other reproductions, please, send them to us, with all the data you have. Thank you very much.