One of my favorite things to collect are Ex-Voto hearts. I have posted a few picures of my collection on Instagram and have always had a lot of questions about them, so I though I would answer the questions I frequently get.
1. What are Ex-Voto hearts? Ex-Votos (also known as Milagros which is Spanish for “miracle”) are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, and areas of Latin America. They are frequently attached to altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship. Milagros are also carried for protection and good luck.
2. What are Ex-Votos made from? Ex-Votos can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or even wax. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, as seen in my collection some can be flat or fully three-dimensional.
3.What are some common shapes? The most popular shape, of course, is the heart, but animals and body parts such as legs, hands, ears, eyes and even organs are given for different purposes. For example, a milagro of a leg might be used, or offered as part of a prayer for the healing of a leg; or it might refer to a concept such as travel. Similarly, a heart might represent ideas as diverse as a heart condition, romance, or any number of other interpretations. I personally only collect the hearts.
4. Where can I buy Milagros? Ex-Votos/Milagros have become so popular in the last several years that tin reproduction can be found at your local home decor stores. I have listed a few of my favorite Ex-voto heart reproductions that you can purchase below.
Click affilate links to purchase
In addition to religious and ritual applications, Milagros are often found as components on jewelry, and other home decor items. One of my Sid Dickens memory blocks that I collect (that will be another post) is a sacred heart. When it comes to ex-votos, there is something for everyone.
5. What’s your story on collecting Ex-Votos? I’m so glad you asked! My mom started collecting them several years ago. I remember when we were on vacation in Santa Fe, NM we walked into one of the fabulous stores on the square and saw this wall covered in all kinds of ex-votos. At the time, I must admit I thought they were creepy. However, over the years the hearts have become the apple of my eye.
I hope I have answered some of your questions. Then next time you are out shopping, keep your eye out for these fun little treasures.