Santos in Oaxaca's Ancient Churches

A study of santos in 16th-century and other churches in Oaxaca, Mexico

By Claire and Richard Stracke
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation

In San Miguel Achiutla:

Christ at the Pillar
Christ carrying the Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary

Resurrected Christ

Sacred Heart of Jesus + Christ Child
St. John the Baptist
St. Joseph
St. Michael (1)
St. Michael (2)

St. Michael (3)
St. Michael (4)
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)
St. Rose of Lima
St. Sebastian
Unidentified Dominican saint
Unidentified saint

Virgin Mary Altar
Virgin Mary in White

Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Christ ChildChrist

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Local Name: El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Basis for Identification: A very large metal heart hangs on the breast, and the hands bear the marks of the nails of the Crucifixion. However, the gesture and the purple robe suggest that originally this may once have been a statue of Christ in the purple cloak (the "Ecce Homo" -- see John 19:1-5).

Other characteristics: white cape, gold cincture

Site: San Miguel Achiutla

Location: Altar at the east end of the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: About life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Huitzo, Tamazulapan, Teposcolula, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Sacred Heart of Jesus
Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Wikipedia: Sacred Heart

Christ Child
There is a fair sheen to the face, a better sheen to the hands. The figure is bald beneath the wig.

Basis for Identification: Only the fact that it is a child mirroring the gesture of the adult figure.

Other characteristics: White robe, red vest.

Site: San Miguel Achiutla.

Location: Altar at the east end of the north wall of the nave, to the right of the large Christ (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass eyes, with lashes. Hair: wig. Lips parted. Fabric garments.

Size: About 2 feet (60 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca1, Coixtlahuaca2, Huitzo (boy, not infant), Teotitlán, Yanhuitlán1 (in case with crucifix), Yanhuitlán2.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Baby Jesus
Wikipedia: Child Jesus
Christian Iconography: The Christ Child

Next: Saint Michael the Archangel, at the east end of the north wall

Previous santo

Introduction to San Miguel Achiutla

Santos Home Page

Note: On this site, references to the cardinal directions always assume that the main altar is at the east end of the church, the narthex or entry area at the west end, and the two walls of the nave on the north and south. (The nave is the long central section.) Actual orientations may differ.

The photo shown here is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free to share or remix it on two conditions: first, that you attribute it to the photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without implying any approval of your work  on their part; second, that if you alter, transform, or build upon this photo, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.