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 Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz:

Our Lady of Sorrows
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Joseph
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)
St. Peter the Apostle
Virgin and Child (1)
Virgin and Child (2)

Other santos not photographed

Virgin and Child

Virgin and Child:
The Virgin is one of the most beautiful we have seen. Beneath an ancient wig, the original face is of a young woman, intelligent, patient, and filled with sadness. She has wide-set eyes and a long nose and thin lips. The child is so voluminous as to hide much of the Virgin's upper body. She wears a carved gold tunic under a red polychromed robe. An ample blue and gold mantle is wrapped from the left hip and around the front to be caught up over the left arm. The right hand is upraised, index finger touching the thumb in benediction. A white pearl necklace is looped through the hand. The strong left hand can be seen gripping the child.

The glass case in which she stands is decorated at its sides with a shell pattern above a geometric design of x's and waves. Behind the Virgin's head is a flower-shaped medallion that encloses a cross. Directly beneath it is a carved the Omega in which is set another cross.

The Christ Child is modern doll of the kicking-baby kind used in Church creches. It has molded hair, glass eyes, and an open mouth. It is dressed in a white robe trimmed in lace and what appears to be an embroidered sheepskin vest (East of Turkey?) or coatlet which serves as a mantle. On the feet are baby socks and gold sandals. A Mexican silver coin has been tied to the left hand with an intricate knot and arrangement of threads. The halo is a rhinestoned sunburst.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz.

Location: Southeast corner of the nave (see note).

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Coixtlahuaca2, Cuilapan, Guelavia, HuitzoZimatlán.

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

Next: In the same area, another statue of the Virgin and Child

Previous santo

Introduction to Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz

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.