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 Ejutla:
Christ: Ecce Homo
Christ Mocked in the Pretorium
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Assumption
St. Francis of Assisi
St. John the Evangelist
St. Mary Magdalene
Unidentified Dominican Saint
Unidentified Franciscan Saint (1)
Unidentified Franciscan Saint (2)
Virgin Mary in a coffin

Other santos not photographed

Christ Seated in the Pretorium

Christ Seated in the Pretorium:
The head angles slightly to the right. The knees are skinned so deeply that the muscles show beneath. Blood is spattered over the trunk and loin cloth. The paint is dull and has green-gray tones, especially around the eyes at the tip of the nose, and at the edges of the wounds. The same blue-gray is used to shadow the stomach and the thighs. Wood can be seen where the toes are chipped. The crown is made of two strands of stiffened rope braided together, from which jut out thorns.

The hands are folded together at the wrists, the right above the left, then tied with a rope that is looped around the neck. This placement would suggest that the figure is a hinged mannequin, but the legs are not jointed. The figure is permanently seated. It could not be used as El Señor de la Misericordia.

Local Name: El Dios de la Peña.

Basis for Identification: Scepter, crown of thorns, hands tied together by the ends of a gold-colored lasso hanging from the neck, brief loincloth knotted over right hip, red cape, bloody knees.

Site: Church of San Miguel Ejutla.

Location: South wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric cape, bamboo scepter. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig. Open mouth, sculpted teeth.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Etla, Guelavia, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teposcolula, Tilantongo, Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán.

External Links:
The story of the scourging and mockery of Jesus in the pretorium is in Mark 15:16-20.
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of the Man of Sorrows

Next: Also along the south wall of the nave, an "Ecce Homo" santo

Previous santo

Introduction to San Miguel Ejutla

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.