A votive ship, sometimes called a church ship, is a ship model displayed in a church. As a rule, votive ships are constructed and given as gifts to the church by seamen and ship builders. Votive ships are relatively common in churches in the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, as well as on Åland and Faroe islands, but are known also to exist in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.
The practice of displaying model ships in churches stems from the Middle Ages and appears to have been known throughout Christian Europe, in both Catholic and Lutheran countries. The oldest known remaining votive ship is a Spanish ship model from the 15th century. A model ship originally displayed in Stockholm Cathedral but today in the Stockholm Maritime Museum dating from circa 1590 is the oldest surviving example in the Nordic countries. Votive ships are quite common in France, in coastal towns (and in some inland ones as well) either as model ships (generally made by sailors after escaping a shipwreck ) or as paintings (generally depicting some awkward situation) they are known under the Latin term of Ex-Voto (made after a vow). The church of Sainte Anne d'Auray in Brittany has the biggest French collection of marine ex-votos, but the practice even extends to the Mediterranean French shores, including Corsica.
- Media related to Votive ships at Wikimedia Commons
- Comprehensive bibliography at The Maritime History Virtual Archives
- Votive ships in Denmark Comprehensive list (in Danish)
- Comprehensive French site about marine ex-votos with extensive photographic documentation
- "Votivskepp" (in Swedish). Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Nørhøj, Henning (24 May 2011). "Kirkeskibet - symbolet på rejsen fra jorden til himlen". kristendom.dk (in Danish). Kristeligt Dagblad. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Lilleholt, Håkon. "Høvåg kirke". Høvåg kirke & bedehus (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Piratskepp i Kökars kyrka" (in Swedish). Åland Official Travel Guide. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- White, Ian M (4 April 2007). "Votive Ship". Glasgow Cathedral. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Aston, Nigel (15 July 2009). Art and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 319. ISBN 9781861898456.