Saint in Fire

Wood, gesso, paint; glass eyes, sculpted hair, closed mouth. Approximately 3 feet tall (91 cm.).
Church of Santo Domingo Ocotlán, Oaxaca, Mexico

The gestures of the two hands suggest preaching. The statue is a separate structure from the octagonal vessel in which it is standing, although the lower part of the body is not represented. Tongues of fire rise from all around the perimeter of the vessel, each tongue separately carved.

The glass of the case is streaked with wax left when parishioners rub candles across it in the sign of the cross. The candles are then taken home. Other parishioners were observed to bring marigolds from other parts of the church, rub them on the glass, and crumble the blossoms over the table in front of the santo.

One woman who was teaching her children this ritual was asked the name of the saint. She replied that she had forgotten, but that he was a very good saint.

In Mitla, another town in the state of Oaxaca, a similar statue of a saint in flames was unhesitatingly identified by the women of the Hermandad of the Virgin of Carmen as "San Francisco." However, the Ocotlán figure has no stigmata or other features associated with St. Francis.

For other representations of figures in fire see the Harrowing of Hell page.

Photographed at the church by Claire and Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.