The Sanctuary of Monte Spineto
A visit to the sanctuary of Montespineto, in Stazzano, is an unmissable opportunity not only to enjoy a beautiful view but also to admire a very rich collection of votive offerings.
In the rooms used as a museum, in fact, numerous gifts made with different techniques and materials (paper, wood, sheet metal, fabric, plastic, ceramic) are preserved.
In some cases they are paintings, in others they are embroideries, in others they are photographs, in others they are objects donated by the faithful as thanks for a miraculous cure or a foiled misfortune.
The first step to be taken to properly explore and understand the ancient history of this particular category of artifacts is to be aware that any object can potentially become an ex voto.
Archaeological and anthropological studies have shown that since ancient times men have presented offerings and gifts to their Gods to ensure protection or to express gratitude.
With the spread of Christianity, the same offers that were previously brought to Greek or Roman temples were placed before the altars dedicated to the saints or to the Virgin: a "handover" that the Catholic Church did not see in a very positive way as it strongly feared that these gifts become the object of popular superstition.
Despite these perplexities, the ex voto survived and continued to be made and donated to the present day.
Votive offerings are a fundamental testimony to the evolution not only of forms of devotion but also of our culture.
In fact, in the ex-votos paintings we can observe the changes in society, in the relationships between social classes, in medical science and in transport systems, without forgetting the numerous information we can learn about the birth and development of new professions or the lack of security at work (due to countless accidents).
What must never be forgotten admiring these works is that behind every votive image, and more generally to every ex voto, lies a long tradition, a series of very precise compositional rules (to which the artists specialized in this sector they had to do it), a rich symbology that went on forming over the centuries and, of course, a profound and heartfelt devotion that unites believers of all origins and social backgrounds.