What is an ex-voto?

What is an ex-voto?

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Definition of an ex-voto

An ex-voto is an object of thanksgiving following a granted wish.

In the past, ex-votos were offered and placed in places of worship. These religious objects can take many forms and can be made of many materials: anatomical plaques representing the part of the body that is ill and/or healed, jewellery, thank-you plaques, paintings, but also, depending on the region and the time, subjects of thanks: model ships, embroidery, bridal crowns, car steering wheels, crutches, etc.

The functions of the ex-voto

There are 4 different types of ex-voto:

  • The ex-voto suscepto: the material good is offered in thanks for a wish granted or a commitment made.

  • The propitiatory ex-voto: this is an ex-voto intended to support a request to a deity, a saint or a saint.

  • Gratulatory ex-voto: the gift is given out of simple devotion and serves to thank a grace obtained.

  • The surerogatory ex-voto: reminds us of the memory of the deity invoked, while waiting for the wish to be fulfilled.

An ex-voto is therefore a relationship of exchange and gift between the faithful and the divinity. It is a symbol of faith and gratitude towards a deity, a saint or a saint.

An ex-voto is often linked to a situation of danger, such as at sea with storms or during a military expedition, but also for a cure, for a life saved during an accident.

pendentif ex-voto

Ex-voto pendant Sacred Heart 21 cm 59€

chapelet ex-voto

Silver rosary necklace with white ex-voto heart 79€


Ex-voto in greenish gold 29€

Places marked by ex-votos

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

In the sanctuary of Lourdes, crutches belonging to cripples used to hang on the walls of the Massabielle grotto. Cured thanks to their faith in the Virgin Mary, the cripples no longer had any use for them, so they hung them up as a token of thanks to the Virgin Mary.

The Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde

Since the 19th century, donors of ex-votos have expressed their devout gratitude to the Virgin of La Garde. Among them are sailors who thank the Virgin for having protected and saved them during a storm or shipwreck. Today, more than 2,500 objects are displayed here.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

The alley of the chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is lined with ex-votos. It is known throughout the world.

After the Apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1830, thousands of people came to cover the walls and pillars with ex-votos to testify to the many graces obtained by the Virgin Mary. It is a strong gesture of devotion and an eternal recognition of the thousands of faithful who have engraved their thanks to the Virgin for life.

The ex-voto today

Far from being an outdated practice, the tradition of the ex-voto is still alive today. In fact, it is regenerated over the years and metamorphosed with the imagination of the faithful.

Today, an ex-voto can be a Formula 1 steering wheel, a sports shirt or a military medal. Despite the modernity of 21st century ex-votos, the gratitude felt towards the divine generosity remains intact day after day, century after century...

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