Vote is from the Latin votum, a vow, a wish, a prayer, generally involving a deity. However this morning's stroll didn't involve voting for old bearded men in Spain's general elections, but inspection objects whose name comes from the same root, votives:
In the Roman Catholic Church offerings were made either to fulfill a vow made to God for deliverance, or a thing left to a Church in gratitude for some favor that was granted. Today votives can be lit votive candles, offered flowers, statues, vestments, and, monetary donations. Traditional special forms of votive offering ex votos include small silver models of the afflicted part of the body, inscribed stone tablets, folk art paintings of an incident of danger such as the votive paintings of Mexico, and model ships donated by sailors who have survived a dangerous voyage. Many Catholic churches still have areas where such offerings are displayed.
The hilltop sanctuary we visited today is close to the old port of Premià de Mar, which was involved in a small way in the Cuban trade, and so there's a nice little collection of 19th century maritime paintings of terrible storms and shipwrecks, with the Virgin popping out of the sky in the nick of time.
However, it also has the usual contemporary collection of crutches, stuffed toys and L-plates, left in gratitude for minor cases of divine intervention, such as we also find walking up Montserrat and in a great number of other places, including this Gracia walk, this Girona country tour, and on tombs in the great Montjuïc cemetery. (But if you're leaving things, you have to be careful: a friend who decided to stop being a boring lawyer and become a super-gendarme, with modern weaponry and a fast car, on graduating from police academy and receiving a proper uniform had to leave her trainee cap well concealed in her granny's niche (is that ancestor worship?) to avoid attracting the wrath of naughty neighbours.)
However today I wanted to share a wonderful example of casual solidarity with the deity from the great city of Guanajuato, Mexico, in which one Maria Isabel Cuellar explains how her manky (< the equally non-standard chueco) tortillas were cured, mending her relationship with her mother, and how she showed her thanks. It's here, as part of the Wellcome Collection's brilliant London exhibition of Mexican ex-votos, which I hope will outlive online its physical sell-by date.
Inevitably there's been a great amount of modern reworking of votive offerings, which I may get round to blogging some day here or here.
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