Exvoto is a Spanish word meaning votive offering.  Ex-Votos are images offered to a deity or saint as a form of prayer or wish, or, most often, as a thank you for an answered prayer.  In most cases, the exvoto is signed by the supplicant and dated, and explains why the giver is giving thanks.  In many cases, they tell a very touching personal story.  The personal story is what makes them so fascinating. The exvoto is most often left at a church altar.  They are very public, yet very personal, professions of faith in God and thanks for favors received. 

The most common reason for thanks is health, with many exvotos dedicated after operations.  Survival of accidents is a close second.  But almost any subject is sufficient to justify creating one, from finding a missing farm animal to helping to find a spouse.

The concept of a votive offering has been around for thousands of years. However, it's most recent form originated in Italy in the 15th century where wealthy patrons would commission religious pictures in which they themselves were depicted in the scene. This new votive tradition quickly spread both geographically and also amongst economic classes.  The poorer classes would hire a less talented artist to paint their votive offerings.

The tradition of votive painting was brought to the New World by Spanish settlers.  At the end of the 18th century, tin plate became widely available in Mexico and thus, Mexican folk painters discovered a new surface medium for their painting. Because tinplate was so cheap, the practice of offering votive paintings to Jesus, Mary, or one’s favorite saint became very common among the masses in Mexico, and the custom was mostly abandoned by the upper classes.

Exvotos are a wonderful and unique expression of Mexican culture.

Ex-Voto #1


Ex-Voto #12

$ 40


Tin Winged Heart

$ 16


Tin Flaming Heart

$ 22

 Red Tin Heart w/mirror

 $ 24


  Pierced Heart

                                                     $ 12