Narni, Sunday, September 23
Ex votos have nothing to do with whether a person has voted in a previous election but finally said, “enough! I’ll never vote again!” Rather, and in the sense of this post, ex votos are majolica tiles illustrating some tragic event in the distant (1600’s) or recent (2007) past for which thanks are being given to god. Whoa!! That doesn’t sound quite right. Let’s try that again: Thanks are being given to god because of some favorable intercession with regard to the tragic event. For example, someone fell out of a tree, landed on his head but didn’t die . . . praise god. Or, someone fell off a horse, landed on his head but died straight away with no suffering . . . praise god. Or, someone fell off a ladder, landed on his head, suffered terribly but went straight to heaven when he did finally die . . . praise god. You get the point; people used to fall a lot.
The actor doing the interceding in this example is the Madonna of the Bath (or baths) and her sanctuary is in Casalina, which is very close to Deruta. Dave, Claire, Michael and I made a visit there on our way to Perugia several days ago. I recommend this little side trip very highly. It is a small space but the interior walls are covered with these charming tiles. As indicated above, many from the past deal with falling: Out of trees and boats, off of ladders, horses and roofs.
Some events are difficult to figure out but others, like bulls getting gored, are pretty darned clear. One of my favorites is the one of the woman who was troubled for five years by four spirits or demons (or was it four years by five spirits) but was eventually cured by the intercession of the Madonna d. Bagno.
Modern themes are frequently accidents involving automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles but one depicted an electrocution (with the person falling to the ground) and several deal with soldiers . . . from many different wars. Most of the ex votos have the initials “P.G.R.” on them, standing for “per grazia ricevuta,” which means “for grace received.”
The sanctuary is just off of the E45 but it is very calming, very tranquil, quite lovely.
After we got back from our outing, Claire asked Dave to reattach a curtain-pulling rod that had come undone. The windows are tall, hence the need for the pulling rod. Their height also meant that Dave’s task involved the use of a ladder. All of us were a little apprehensive after seeing all ex votos dealing with ladder accidents. Our fears were not realized and on my next trip I am going to dedicate a tile: