Religions are expressed through worship services that structure practitioners’ communication with gods.

A worship service is a set of actions, ceremonies, and prayers by which men and women pay homage to the divine and structure their communication with gods. Whether in a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or on a sacred mountain, practitioners gather to honour, pray to, and supplicate the divine power.

This exhibition space is filled with the everyday objects that religious practitioners use, including prayer books, rosaries, yarmulkes, prayer wheels, bells, prayer rugs. Each object helps worshippers make contact with their god.

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The Artifacts

Ex voto


Naples, Italy, 2006
Private collection

Ex votos — offerings usually made at a church or a temple — express a wish for a favour or mercy, or gratitude for a wish that was fulfilled. They come in many forms and are sometimes shaped like the body part for which a cure is being sought.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Feast dish


Norman Tait (1941– )
British Columbia, 1973
Wood, shell

Serving guests has a ritual and a hospitable social purpose among First Peoples of the West Coast. The containers used to serve food are often elaborately carved in the form of animals and supernatural creatures that are part of the lineage and heritage of the hosts. The beaver on this dish is a symbol of tenacity and stored wealth.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Torah pointer


Eastern Europe, 20th century

One does not touch a Torah with the hand, which is deemed to be unclean. The oil on the skin can also damage the parchment and rub off the ink. Torah readers use a pointer (yad) to help the eye follow the densely written text.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Prayer Wheel


Tibet, 2009
Copper, wood, paper
Exhibition collection

Wheels inscribed with prayers are found at Tibetan monasteries and shrines. Monks and visitors turn them to send out prayers that purify the surrounding area. At the most popular holy sites, the prayer wheels are in almost constant motion.

© Nicola-Frank Vachon, Perspectives

Celebration of the Zion Christian Church

South Africa — Celebration of the Zion Christian Church, the most important indigenous religious movement in South Africa.

© Daniel Lainé/CORBIS 1970-1997

Lying on a bed of thorns

India — A sadhu (holy man) lying on a bed of thorns during the Hindu festival of the solar eclipse.

© Baldev/Sygma/CORBIS 1980

Vodou Trance

Haiti — Vodou worshippers dance until they are exhausted, and some fall into a trance. Possession by the spirit invoked allows believers to attain this state of rapture, close to the Divine.

© Les Stone/Sygma/CORBIS 1994

Theme of the Day


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Tell us about a religious holiday that is significant to you.

    • joe
    • August 22nd, 2012
    Christmas, because it brings family together, whether religious or not.
    • Sam
    • June 20th, 2012
    Even though I'm not sure God exists, I celebrate Easter and Christmas. These two holidays are an affirmation of how God really does love all of us. I have prayed many years but still have had no inspiration. I guess some people just have to wait. I hope I'll get a sign soon.
    • Anurb
    • April 15th, 2012
    The trees, the birds, the grass, the sun...nature in all her beauty. She is my God(dess).
    • GMD
    • April 10th, 2012
    April 21 Ridvan commemorating the day in 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared His Mission to the world. Since then His followers have encircled the earth with His love and unity.