Votive ship

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Votive ship in Nexø Church on the island of Bornholm, Denmark

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.[1] Votive ships are relatively common in churches in the Scandinavian countries Denmark,[2] Sweden, Norway[3] and Finland, as well as on Åland[4] and Faroe islands, but are known also to exist in Germany, the United Kingdom[5] and Spain.[2]

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.[6] 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.[2] 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).[citation needed] 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.


External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Votivskepp" (in Swedish). Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Nørhøj, Henning (24 May 2011). "Kirkeskibet - symbolet på rejsen fra jorden til himlen". kristendom.dk (in Danish). Kristeligt Dagblad. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  3. ^ Lilleholt, Håkon. "Høvåg kirke". Høvåg kirke & bedehus (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Piratskepp i Kökars kyrka" (in Swedish). Åland Official Travel Guide. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  5. ^ White, Ian M (4 April 2007). "Votive Ship". Glasgow Cathedral. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  6. ^ Aston, Nigel (15 July 2009). Art and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 319. ISBN 9781861898456.