Small miracles of beauty: ex votos for Madonna del Boden

Ex voto Madonna del Boden

March 15, 1867. Ex voto signed by painter A. Borghini. In Feriolo, while a new pier was being built, a landslide swamped the town, pushing it into the lake (it is still there, eighteen meters under water). This man was saved for grace received

“And one thousand ex votos to the celestial goddess / who chases away our sorrows / settle accounts for ill mortals, / whose prayers for grace reach the Heavens”: in his “To the Blessed Virgin of Loreto”, Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) hints to the Christian use of ex votos, small objects left inside sanctuaries in gratitude for a prayer answered. In Italy, these tokens of faith often carry the acronym “PGR”, meaning ‘per grazia ricevuta’ (for grace received).

A few years before Tasso was born in Sorrento, on September 8, 1528 in Ornavasso, Piedmont, a young shepherdess fell down a cliff while searching for her sheep; she asked for Mary’s help and was immediately saved, then found her herd near a small chapel which enshrined an image of the Blessed Virgin. It was the Madonna del Boden – from the German word for “plain”, a legacy of the 13th-century colony founded in the area by the Walser, a Germanic people from Switzerland.

After the miraculous saving, locals started to celebrate the Madonna del Boden every year on September 8; in the 1600s, a Sanctuary was built to welcome pilgrims and their numerous ex votos.

Each one tells a story: and while they may seem like small adventures to us, we know the people who lived through them felt huge gratitude for surviving.

Photos via:

November 25, 2014

Small miracles of beauty: ex votos for Madonna del Boden

Ornavasso (VCO)
Via al Boden
+39 0323 837298