A Convention at UCSC - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

The convention was conceived under the auspice of the Capuchin Friars, keepers of the Ossuccio Sanctuary, in collaboration with CREA research center. The latter has authored the whole project of valorisation of the precious corpus of ex­votos that is here preserved.

The tales depicted in the ex­votos.
The Ossuccio case: history, restoration,
and valorisation.

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Largo Gemelli 1, Milano
29 april 2014. Cripta Aula Magna. 2:30pm – 6.30pm
Largo Gemelli, 1 Milano

Introduction to the Convention by Cecilia De carli

The Convention has seen the merging of inter­disciplinary research on the nature of the ex-votos, and on the specific case of the votive tablets connected to the Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of Succour in Ossuccio. This represents a positive sign of change in the cultural horizon of our time. The slow yet relentless disappearance of such artefacts from churches was brought about in the name of a radicalization of the outward signals of faith. At the same time, this disappearance derives from a crisis in popular faith, that has seen the triumph of individualism to the point of confining religiosity to one's private life. Today, nonetheless, among believers and, more diffusely, among the public at large, we witness the awakening of a desire to give visible shape to the cries for help that rise, unexpected, along the pilgrim's trails leading to the centers of living faith, in the research for the renewal of a salvific relationship to the transcendent.

Even traditional humanities in these last decades have showed a growing interest in these expressive forms, that righteously merge with our cultural heritage; those same studies now quote contributions coming from different fields such as history, art history, sociology, as well as cultural anthropology and aesthetic philosophy.
The conservative restoration of good part of the ex-­votos in Ossuccio has allowed us to re-discover the little painted universe that they preserve, telling in vivid detail and with great simplicity the different aspects of a happy occurrence in life. A thanksgiving that brings new light to the communal dimension of life of the Christian people, encouraged to hope beyond one's proper merit.

The Program of the Convention:

Chair Cecilia De Carli.
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano

Greeting friar Elia De Carli OFMCap.
the Rector of the Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of Succour in Ossuccio

Carla Travi.Art historian
The Sanctuary of the Virgin of Succour in Ossuccio: faith and art in the heart of Como lake.
Two Madonnas, one painted in 1501, the other a XIVth Century statue, represent the heart of devotion in the Sanctuary of Succour. Their story blends with that of the Sanctuary's building complex, including a Sacro Monte (Sacred Mountain) of Marian character, and is documented in the collection of ex‐votos of the Sanctuary.

Danilo Zardin Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano
Religiousness speaking through the ex­-votos
The tradition of the ex­votos comes to life as a grateful acknowledgment of the irruption of divine power in human events. The bipolar diversity confronting God's heaven and life on earth comes across as the beginning of a dialogue through which these opposites search for one another. The bond that is being tied reveals a yearning for a divine figure that may bring merciful company to human suffering. Emerging from the context of a blossoming medieval Christianity, painted ex­ votos flourished in the second wave of post­Tridentine reform and through the baroque period, flowing like a hidden river, reaching the seams of our present­day religious metamorphosis.

Salvatore Abbruzzese Università degli Studi, Trento.
A sociology of the ex­-votos. Goals and methods.
An ex‐voto is the public account of a successful relationship between the faithful and a single religious figure. Because of its being public, the explicit truth of the facts bears at the same time a commitment to faith. Through the ex‐votos, we can access the universe of religion as a lived and duly documented relationship, the benefits of which structure and sustain man's daily life, exhorting his coherence and continuity with the moral principles that truly constitute fair return for the grace received.

Grazia MassoneUniversità Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano
Telling the miracle. Proposals for an iconologic reading of the ex­votos of the Holy Virgin of Succour in Ossuccio.
This report presents a number of hypotheses on possible iconologic readings of the images dating from 1628 to the beginning of the XVIIIth Century. The paintings are also an occasion to look at a cross‐section of the lives and turmoils of people living on the western side of the lake, tracing events that go well beyond the lake‐region's boundaries.

Martino Mascherpa
The restoration of the ex­votos
A presentation of the 36 paintings that have been restored in the last three years, in two separate groups, as far as the available funds allowed. Priority in restoration was given according to the degree of decay and to the artistic relevance of the artefacts. Another 45 works, raising fewer conservative concerns, await a future restorative intervention.

The proceedings of the convention will be published by Vita e Pensiero

Organizational Credits for the Convention
(Crea) (Research center for the education through art and mediation of cultural heritage throughout the land and in museums) of UCSC - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano