San José Patriarca

Polychrome (both Joseph and the child); glass eyes, open mouth; life size.
Church of San Juan Teitipac, Oaxaca, Mexico

Locally known as San José Patriarca, this Joseph is of course not the Old Testament patriarch but the spouse of Mary, identified by the lily stalk. He wears a full crown and holds the Christ Child (also with full crown) upon his left hand.

This St. Joseph is represented as young and vigorous. The right knee is thrust slightly forward and the right foot points outward, while the left foot turns away at a right angle. This stance, together the set of the shoulders and neck, express pride and confidence. The cape is distinguished by exuberant serpentine drapery and the robe by the drama of golden arabesques on a black background. The polychrome of robe and cape is in excellent condition. The child is more stylized and rectilinear; the polychrome robe is more muted--gold on a dull blue.

The crowns and the lily are recent. Unusually, the saint's blush is at the bottom of the cheek and at the mouth.

According to our informant at Teitipac in 1991, Sr. Hilario Lopez, the santo is carried through the church and then around the churchyard on St. Joseph's feast day, March 19. It also figures in the Candelaria procession. The statue is cared for by a mayordomía.

Read more about St. Joseph.

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