Walking through Venice you will notice many votive altars scattered all over. They show sacred images of saints behind a small railing or a glass protection. However the figure that recurs the most is Mary because according to tradition Venice was born on the day of the Annunciation.
The votive capitals were constructed around the religious image and were made of wood or stone. Used as an ex-voto for escaping either a famine or a plague, they have small dimensions and are maintained by popular tradition.
Their main function was devotional and they were mainly used for prayers by religious congregations.
In Venice instead you find them everywhere on the street walls as they served for the public lighting. Going back to the time when Domenico Michiel was doge from 1118 to 1130, they were placed in strategic places and in dark corners that is near bridges with no parapets or near the canals. In this way they lit up the street at night.
On one of the northern lagoon islands, called Mazzorbo, there is a very elegant and simple one on the way to the cemetery surrounded by a small flower bed. (See picture below).
In the shape of a column, standing alone on the gray pavement, the Madonna is placed inside a box protected on the four sides by glass. Its image represents Our Lady of Peace, and she is wearing a white mantle. The white color is a symbol of purity and peace. Below the box a brass inscription enriches the white support. It was recently added and it reports a message directed to Mary to protect and bless the inhabitants of all the surrounding islands.
The little image refers to the cult of Our Lady of Peace that comes from an old legend dating back to the XVth century. At that time a small statue of Mary was found in Constantinople and brought to Cuma in Campania (Italy).