Spring 2013 Issue
CCM Newsletter

Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy

By Dr. Tom Mould and Dr. Lynn Huber, Elon Professors

In January 2014, Elon University will host the traveling exhibit "Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy." The exhibit, curated by folklorist Dr. Leonard Primiano from Cabrini College and brought to Elon by Dr. Tom Mould in Anthropology, Dr. Lynn Huber in Religious Studies, and Dr. Evan Gatti in Art History, consists of 53 votive objects from the Italian Catholic tradition created between 1832 and 1959. "Ex-votos," short for ex voto suscepto meaning "according to the promise that was made," were offered as thanks for heavenly intercession with various misfortunes, including accidents or illness. The collection includes both painted tablets (tavolette) depicting the dramatic moment of crisis for which intercession was requested and metal objects (milagros) in the shapes of people, afflicted body parts, or hearts representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In some sense, these objects reflect not only the thankfulness of those who have received divine intercession, but serve as a visual record of individuals' faith in God's grace and compassion.

The Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, along with Catholic Campus Ministry, and other departments on campus, anticipate offering a number of events in connection with the exhibit, including a lecture by Dr. Primiano, a panel discussion by Elon faculty on the use of ex-votos and personal altars in various religious traditions and historical time-periods, and a conversation with Father Gerry Waterman about Catholic spirituality in relation to these types of votive objects. All of these events will be open and free of charge to the Elon community and to the public. As planning continues for the exhibit, which will be located in the Isabella Canon Room in Elonís Performing Arts Center, we will be updating the public about times and event locations. Needless to say we are very excited about being able to bring to campus this collection, which highlights the rich connections between faith and art, and we hope that many of you will join us in experiencing this unique collection.