Votive offering

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Handling of votive pictures in the Gnadenkapelle Altötting

Votive offerings or votives (from Medieval Latin vovere , 'vow') ​​are objects that are publicly offered as a symbolic sacrifice of a supernatural power on the basis of a vow or engagement. This happens in particular for the successful or desired rescue from an emergency and often at a cultic site.

In the Catholic Church, especially in the Baroque period, votive pictures (votive tablets) were widespread, which represented the miraculous salvation from an emergency situation and were provided with the written note ex voto (Latin for 'because of a vow', from votum , 'vow').

Leading to a votive offering vows are called votated that the vow able constricting person as a voter . A votive treasure refers to both the totality of the votive offerings collected at a cultic site and an archaeological find, which mainly consists of votive offerings.

Prehistory and Antiquity

The cultures of prehistory and antiquity already knew the custom to consider holy places with votive offerings . Originally, they represented consecration gifts to deities that could be both supplication and thanksgiving offerings . These include archaic kouroi or korai . The famous charioteer from Delphi is also a gift.

In Europe, examples of votive offerings in archeology have been documented since the Stone Age . Most of the time, votive offerings were deliberately made unusable before being deposited in order to exclude profane use (e.g. weapons). Other things like polished stone axes etc. were placed in natural or man-made grottos (e.g. in the Tumulus Mané-er-Hroëk near Locmariaquer ).

The most common votive offerings in Roman times were not weapons, but women's jewelry and other items of female privacy, which certainly has something to do with the matron cult . Votive stones are consecration altars that are mainly consecrated to one or more matrons. They owe their emergence above all to the problems and wishes in the ancient and early medieval domestic sphere. Many votive inscriptions have been preserved on such altars. They apply not only to the matrons, but also to other deities. The form, script and origin of the votive inscription are Roman.

Votive offering for Asklepios, 400 BC Chr.

The Greeks made votive offerings to their miraculous god Asclepius in Epidauros , Knidos , Pergamon and other places of worship. Evidence of the religious life of the Romans are the votive hands consecrated to the Phrygian god Sabazius and the images of human body parts made of clay and bronze in the Temple of Isis in Pompeii and also those in Germany (Germania Romana) often found votive sheets .

The votive cult did not go out with the Christianization of Europe, but was incorporated into Christian customs. In places of pilgrimage in particular, one often encounters replicas of objects in miniature form (e.g. votive tablets, votive pictures, votive candles , votive crowns ) that are dedicated to a saint , a request or a thank you that convey plastic expression.

A votive cult also exists or has existed in other religions.

Christian votive offerings

Votive picture from 1618 for the miraculous rescue of seal hunters in the church of Fårö ( Gotland )

In Christianity there Votivbrauchtum since the beginning. The motif of the votive offering was often linked to certain recurring types of images, for example the Maria in the garment of ears for the request to be released from captivity. The richest development came in the baroque period , when belief in miracles also reached its peak. Iron votive offerings in the form of reproduced extremities and a pair of cattle were found in the church of Graves in Carinthia. Chains were attached as votive offerings around the churches of St. Leonhard (the looser of the tape) because of vows, for example around St. Leonhard in the Lavant Valley in Carinthia. This custom led to the chain churches in the Alpine region . Buildings can also be donated as votive gifts; a well-known votive church is the Vienna Votive Church , for a plague column the Vienna plague column .

Animals could also be brought as votive offerings, in particular black chickens in the area around Salzburg. In the Gmain, for example, the “sacrificed” chickens were carried around the high altar three times by the speakers during mass and then locked behind it in a wooden aviary .

Paintings and other two-dimensional works of art are as votive designated for three-dimensionally shaped objects is the designation Gebildvotiv common (for example for Fatschenkinder said votive of the baby Jesus or in the form of an organ). Votive ships are also examples of image votives; offered by seafarers as gratitude for the safe return home after a stormy voyage; but occasionally as a request for a happy end to an upcoming long journey.

A special form of the Christian votive is the Passion Play , the staging of which goes back in many cases to a vow.

Tama (Greek: τάμα, pl. Τάματα Tamata ) are votive offerings that are offered in the Eastern Orthodox churches, especially in the Greek Orthodox Church . Tamata are usually small plates that can be made of metal or precious metal, usually with an embossed image symbolizing the subject of prayer.

Different forms of votive pictures and offerings

See also


  • Richard Andree : Votives and consecration offerings of the Catholic people in southern Germany. A contribution to folklore. F. Vieweg and son, Braunschweig 1904, (digitized version)
  • Almut Amereller: Votive Pictures. Folk art as a document of human need. Shown using the example of the votive pictures of the Andechs monastery. Moos, Munich 1965.
  • Frank Baer: Votive tablet stories. Votive tablets tell of robbers and wars, of conflagrations and hardships of children, of traffic accidents and wonderful help. Rosenheimer Verlagshaus, Rosenheim 1976, ISBN 3-475-52171-7 .
  • Robert Bauer: The Bavarian pilgrimage Altötting. Schnell & Steiner, Munich 1970.
  • Ernst Baumann: The inventory of votive pictures and votive offerings in Switzerland. In: Swiss Archives for Folklore. Volume 47, 1951, ISSN  0036-794X , pp. 17-27, (digitized version )
  • Klaus Beitl : Votive pictures. Evidence of an ancient folk art. Residenz-Verlag, Salzburg 1973, ISBN 3-7017-0043-5 .
  • René Creux: The world of images of the people. Customs and Beliefs. = Ex voto, customs and beliefs. Huber, Frauenfeld 19803-7193-0662-3.
  • Hermann Drexel, Inge Praxmarer: "When I was in severe fear ..." Votive pictures from Tyrol. Tyrolia, Innsbruck 1998, ISBN 3-7022-2168-9 .
  • Gustav Gugitz : Austria's places of grace in cult and custom . A topographical handbook for religious folklore, 5 volumes, Vienna 1955–1958.
  • Edgar Harvolk: Votive tablets. Pictorial evidence of need and trust in God. Callwey, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-7667-0455-9 .
  • Winfried Hecht : Heavenly help. Votive pictures from the upper Neckar and the upper Danube (= Rottweiler Geschichts- und Altertumsverein eV annual edition. 112). Fink, Lindenberg (Allgäu) 2012, ISBN 978-3-89870-719-0 .
  • Wolfgang Jaeger: Eye votive. Votive offerings, votive pictures, amulets (= Thorbecke-Kunstbücherei. 6). Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1979, ISBN 3-7995-3614-0 .
  • Detta Kälin, Heinz Nauer: Magical Mania & Faith in Miracles. Amulets, ex-votos and miracles in Einsiedeln. Museum Fram - Kulturerbe Einsiedeln, Einsiedeln 2011, ISBN 978-3-9523687-1-8 (catalog for the exhibition from April 30, 2011 to January 6, 2012).
  • Nikolaus Chr. Kogler: Votive pictures from eastern North Tyrol (= Schlern-Schriften. 242). Wagner, Innsbruck 1966.
  • Karl Krendl: "... and got engaged here". Pilgrimages in the former Garsten Abbey and its parishes. Wagner, Linz 2011, ISBN 978-3-902330-59-8 .
  • Lenz Kriss-Rettenbeck : The votive picture. Rinn, Munich 1958.
  • Lenz Kriss-Rettenbeck: Ex voto. Signs, images and images in the Christian votive tradition. Atlantis, Zurich et al. 1972, ISBN 3-7611-0387-5 .
  • Hans von Matt: Votive art in Nidwalden. Standeskanzlei II Nidwalden, Stans 1976.
  • Juliane Roh : I received wonderful help. Votive pictures. Bruckmann, Munich 1957.
  • Wolfgang Spickermann : "Mulieres ex voto". Studies on the worship of women in Roman Gaul, Germania and Raetia (1st - 3rd century AD) (= Bochum historical studies. Ancient history. 12). Brockmeyer, Bochum 1994, ISBN 3-8196-0288-7 (also: Osnabrück, University, dissertation, 1991).
  • Karl Wieninger: O man, consider eternity. Wayside shrines, martyrs, votive pictures, grave inscriptions and house tablets in South Tyrol. Athesia, Bozen 1976.
  • Ittai Weinryb (Ed.): Ex Voto. Votive Giving Across Cultures. Bard Graduate Center, New York NY 2016, ISBN 978-1-941792-05-6 .
  • Eberhard Wolff: Votives. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1461.

Web links

Commons : Ex voto  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Ancient Greek ex voto  collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: votive offering  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. salzburgmuseum.at
  2. ^ Gustav Gugitz: Austria's places of grace in cult and custom. A topographical handbook on religious folklore in five volumes. Volume 5: Upper Austria and Salzburg. Vienna 1958, p. 165.
  3. Michael Henker , Eberhard Dünninger , Evamaria Brockhoff (ed.): “Hear, see, cry and love”. Passion plays in the Alpine region ( publications on Bavarian history and culture. 20). House of Bavarian History, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-927233-02-1 .
  4. Womb votive