Expressions of Faith: votive boards, carvings, xylographic matrices and other treasures

Belluno, Civic Museum 6 August – 31 December 2013 Tuesday – Sunday 9. 00 – 12.00 and Tuesday & Friday 15.00 – 18.00

Frequent natural disasters, recurrent famines and subsequent pestilences, total absence of prevention and prophylaxis, unreliability and cost of medical treatments, the sequence of both domestic and work related accidents, the insecurity of roads, and thousands of other hard to control and forsee accidents, made people’s life kind of a mined land where surviving was often very complex, if not dangerous. To all people without exceptions, both noblemen and clergymen and wealthy people and craftmen, but above all to the crowds of poor people became obvious to rely on devine grace, in particular on the protection of Saints, of the Virgin Mary, and on their compassionate help. Faith was their essential daily viaticum, made of never ending religious discourses and acts of devotions performed endlessly, even in a maniacal way, where the correlation between guilt and punishment was a well accepted awareness, because of its inevitability, in order to live and hope in a future as much as possible free from sufferings, sudden sorrows and miserables life situations.
That’s why there was a wide diffusion of printed images, true means of diffusion of catholic devotion, religious enthusiasm, and of the practice of domestic prayer. Those provided with the unique effectiveness and iconographic immediacy for the nearly general illiteracy which united mountain men and ploughmen to the poorest and most humble members of poverty stricken urban classes.
The exposed works bring back in their direct and effective immediacy to the experience of centuries of Belluno folks. They speak to us, they tell us all the drama and the joy of surviving, they show deep gratitude, true emotions of fraternity. They originate a urgency of life and serenity, a desperate need to face and overcome trials and dangers often greater than both individual forces and the possibilities of an entire population. Numerous expressions of art and faith, a sincere and deep lesson of courage, trust, and hope, an experience which settles in our present and can provide more then a few causes of reflection.

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