When Aurélia Leclercq and Hortense Lefébure launched Sapristi, their business of statuettes of colored virgins, they did not expect to achieve such success. However, since the creation of their company, in 2021, they have sold more than 4,000 copies of the Marian figure in France, in all colors and especially in fluorescent pink. If the Madonna works so well, it’s because customers easily appropriate it, explains the design duo, and because it refers “to notions as positive as gentleness, protection or motherhood”.
The Virgin Mary is not an isolated case: the ex-votos and other monks inspired by Catholic imagery, including in a Mexican style à la Frida Kahlo, have spread in recent years, slowly but surely, first among antique dealers, in a vintage version, then in decoration boutiques and concept stores. Even La Redoute now offers sacred hearts in brass, to hang on the walls of the living room or bedroom…
Originally responsible for the manufacture of candles and candles intended for religious use, the artisanal ciergerie des Prémontrés, created in 1858 by the white fathers, has itself opened its offer to purely decorative products for a few years. “Finally, among all that we offer, it is Santi Belli, our line of decoration based on religious icons, pendants and crosses, produced in about thirty colors, which works best”, confirms Anne Poutoire, commercial director of the manufacture provençale. This success necessitated the hiring of several master candlemakers to keep up with the growing demand and turnover of the company, which now exports its artifacts to Japan and New Zealand.
“The Virgin and the crucifix, identifiable by all, are visual elements that are part of the French landscape and even of the heritage. Over time, they can be transformed and have another use, but they still retain a certain aura, because they are not ordinary”, analyzes Anne-Laure Zwilling, sociologist of religions and research engineer at the CNRS in Strasbourg. .
Thus, like the Orthodox rosaries worn as necklaces, the symbol of yin and yang or the Egyptian cross of life, the ex-votos would have lost their primary meaning, even religious, while retaining an esoteric and protective dimension. For Camille Bonneville, founder with her sister, Justine, of the Boncœurs brand, specializing in the sale of objects for the home inspired by religious art, it is something other than faith that leads their customers to offer themselves a cushion stamped with a sacred heart: “This type of accessory represents a material support for the projection of an intention or a wish. We associate a story with it, we invest it with a magical power. »