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
Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows

Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows
The central figure can be identified as Our Lady of Sorrows by the head-to-floor blue mantle, upturned gaze, and hands clasped as in prayer.
The figure on the left is possibly the Virgin Mary, but more likely St. Mary Magdalene as at the foot of the Cross, because of the flowing brown hair and upturned gaze.
The figure on the right has not been identified. It could be another Virgin Mary statue, another Magdalene, or one of the other women who stayed with Jesus at the foot of the Cross (see John 19:25).

Local name for Our Lady of Sorrows: La Madre de los Dolores.
Local name for St. Mary Magdalene: La Santa Magdalena.

Site: Church of San Miguel Achiutla.

Location: Central niche in the retablo along the south wall of the nave (see note).

Our Lady of Sorrows statues in Oaxaca comparable to this one: Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Ejutla, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula (in Calvary group), Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán (?), Zimatlán.

Mary Magdalene statues in Oaxaca to compare with this one: Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula.

External Links (Our Lady of Sorrows):
Wikimedia Commons: Mater dolorosa
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Sorrows
Christian Iconography: Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother

External Links (St. Mary Magdalene):
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Mary Magdalene in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Mary Magdalene
Wikipedia: Mary Magdalene
Christian Iconography: St. Mary Magdalene, Follower of Christ

Next: At the west end of the south wall of the nave, Our Lady of the Rosary

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.