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
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

Our Lady of the Rosary

Santo name:
The statue of the Virgin is delicate and has the round, full face of a young woman, with large, round eyes and large, well-formed ears. The hair flows onto the shoulders and across the back. The mantle is black and gold in a pattern of large and small flowers and feathery leaves and is bordered in black. The robe is almost solid gold, with a suggestion of red showing. Sleeves are lined in red. Tips of shoes protrude. There are signs of repair at the thumb of her right hand. The wood of the base of the statue is split.

The child's skin color is much lighter than that of the Virgin.
The child has long slender limbs, unlike the Renaissance roundness of the virgin's hands.

Local Name: La Virgen del Rosario.

Basis for Identification: Carrying child in white dress on her right palm; rosary draped from right hand over to child, left hand extended palm forward.

Other characteristics: The child's right hand is closing as if to make the sign of the cross. The Virgin has pendant earrings with red stone.

Site: Basilica of Santiago Cuilapan.

Location: In a retablo behind a grill at the east end of the south wall of nave (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome, child's gown is white embroidered cotton. Hair: carved. Eyes: painted, with lashes. Closed mouth. Garments appear to be of wood rather than stiffened cloth: the wood can be seen at a small chip in the gesso at a fold about 6 inches (15 cm.) above and to the left of the left foot.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, CoixtlahuacaTeitipac1, Teitipac2Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Xoxocotlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Our Lady of the Rosary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Our Lady of the Rosary
Christian Iconography: Our Lady of the Rosary

Next: Just to the right of this statue is one of the Virgin and Child

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.