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 Santiago Cuilapan:
Christ Carrying the Cross
Christ on Palm Sunday
Christ Resurrected

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows 1
Our Lady of Sorrows 2
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary
Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. James the Moorslayer
St. Joseph
St. Michael the Archangel
Unidentified Dominican
Unidentified Saint
Virgin and Child

Other santos not photographed

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel:
The gesso is unusually thin and has worn through at the toes to reveal the wood beneath. Two holes have been formed at the shoulder blades so that wings could be attached. These holes reveal the process of the original construction, with gessoed linen over wood. Paint has chipped off in the folds of the tunic between the legs, revealing the gold of the original polychrome. The whole pattern of the polychrome of the left sleeve shows through the later repainting. The statue is in good condition, but the arms and clothing have been repainted and there have been several repairs. The right leg seems to have been reattached where the tunic begins. The remaining wing has been patched onto the right, and a peg shows where the left wing broke off. The helmet and sword are recent.

Local Name: San Miguel Arcángel

Basis for Identification: Sword, armor, helmet, one wing; red knee-length tunic, green surcoat, red boots.

Site: Basilica of Santiago Cuilapan.

Location: Right of the column in the south wall of nave (see note).

Media and construction: Repainted polychrome. Hair: carved. Eyes: glass, no lashes.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla1, Achiutla2, Achiutla3, Achiutla4Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3, Yanhuitlán, Yanhuitlán Crucifix Group.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. Michael in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Michael the Archangel
Wikipedia: Michael (archangel)
Christian Iconography: Saint Michael the Archangel

Next: Back to the east end of the south wall of the nave, a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary

Previous santo

Introduction to Santiago Cuilapan

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.