The donation of votive offerings in Naples is a still spread and felt habit.
Moreover, the Neapolitan ones are different from the traditional ex-voto. The classic ones are generally simple paintings depicting dangerous events, like accidents or diseases, characterized by a happy end for the victim, while the Neapolitan ones are an expression of gratitude through an ”economical sacrifice”.
This because our ex-voto are silvermade and they reproduce parts of the body considered to have been healed by some saints’ interventions prayed by the sick or by their relatives.
So, a true Neapolitan, especially from poor districts, wants to do “more” to show his/her gratitude to the saint and the best way is to buy a precious (but not too much) metal ex-voto.
There are many places in Naples where to see them: Gesù Nuovo Church with so many donated to two saint physicians, Saint Ciro and S. Giuseppe Moscati.
Another place like that is in the Spanish Quarters: in Vico Tre Re a Toledo 13, there is S. Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe Church (Cinque Piaghe stands for “five stigmata”) where women in trouble to get pregnant go and make their vow and so numerous are the votive offerings as evidences of new births…
What is actually surprising, beyond the ex-voto high number, is to read how recently some “miracles” have happened
Many ex-voto are foundable in the old city: in some jewelleries showcases, at some second hand dealers or Antiques in Via S. Maria di Costantinopoli or at Agostino ‘o pazzo” (“crazy Agostino” ) in Gerolomini Square, along Tribunali street: by sure an original idea for an unusual souvenir that is so representative of one of the most intimate cultural aspects of Naples.
Gesù Nuovo Church
Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, 2
Santa Maria Francesca delle Cinque piaghe Church
Vico Tre Re a Toledo, 13
Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, via Benedetto Croce, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Piazzetta Nilo, Largo Corpo di Napoli, via San Biagio dei Librai, via Giudecca Vecchia, Via Tupputi, Forcella.
Via di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli
Agostino ’o pazzo