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

Virgin and Child

Virgin and Child:
The Virgin has drooping lids, a pouting mouth and a determined chin. The dark hair hides the ears completely. The face has a low gloss and the skin is discolored. The carved hands of Virgin and Child are not free of their bodies, and the gessoed wood between the mother's fingers give a webbed appearance. The Virgin's hair and veil are of a piece with the neck.

The Child is naked. I
n the right hand he holds a golden fruit, possibly a pomegranate, a Christian symbol of resurrection and eternal life. The face resembles those of the stone angels carved in the baptistery. The clothing's flat colors and dull sheen indicate a repainting, as does the fresh color of the eyebrows. However, the skin of both is not repainted.

Basis for Identification: White gown and blue mantle, child in arm.

Other characteristics: Green sash, red veil.

Site: Basilica of Santiago Cuilapan.

Location: To the right of the Virgen del Rosario, behind a grill at the east end of the south wall of nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Hair: carved. Eyes: painted. Closed mouth.

Size: About 2 feet (60 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Coixtlahuaca2Guelavia, Huitzo, Díaz Ordaz1, Díaz Ordaz2, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Virgin Mary in Mexico Pomegranate Symbol
Christian Iconography: The Virgin and Child

Next: Christ Carrying the Cross

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.