For several years I've been collecting religious art - hand-hammered silver and wooden crosses; angel heads and angel wings; Spanish santos; Italian prayer ornaments; French Bible stands; gold-trimmed vestments; silver milagros and icons from Greece.
I like the idea of the stories behind these precious symbols of faith and belief: stories of prayers and miracles; of hope and despair; of strength and sorrow.
In many rural areas throughout Europe, small churches have closed, with their contents auctioned. The wooden monk figure on a pedestal (pictured right) is 18th-century, from a French monastery. It has a curious shortened and moveable right arm. The wooden figure holding a book (at left) is late 19th-century and came from a French church. It was purchased at a Paris antiquaire, who had bought it at auction.
The framed symbols are from the Napoleon III era, circa 1855. The banner over the cross says "The spirit of the heart of Jesus is here."
Leaves at the bottom of the white satin heart symbolise rebirth and renewal, while the thorns across the heart drip tears.
In the Arabic language, when talking about someone with a pure and good heart, the term "white heart" is used.