Religion in Museums

When museums and religion collide

Reflections on Stones

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Not exactly museums and religion, perhaps, but very interesting and relevant!

The Votives Project


In the opening scene of Emanuele Crialese’s 2006 film Nuovomondo (English title The Golden Door), the camera follows a man and his son as they clamber barefoot over a rocky landscape. Dirty and shabbily dressed, they use their hands to pull themselves upwards over the never-ending boulders. They carry large stones in their mouths, and during the sequence the younger man’s mouth begins to bleed. When they reach the top of the mountain, they stop and kneel before an old wooden cross to which a number of silver plaques are tied with decaying ribbon; they spit out their offerings onto a pile of similar-sized stones, and gaze up at the cross, until the older one says (in a strong Sicilian dialect) ‘We’re here. We’ve brought the stones. We wanted to ask you a question. Do we leave, or do we stay here?’ God’s answer soon arrives in the form…

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