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 Pablo Huitzo:

Christ at the Pillar
Christ Child
Christ Fallen with the Cross
Christ in a Coffin
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Hyacinth
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Evangelist

St. Mary Magdalene
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Paul
St. Peter of Verona
St. Peter the Apostle
Unidentified female saint
Unidentified saint
Virgin and Child

Other santos not photographed

The Christ Child

The Christ Child:
The sunburst is painted onto the robe. The hair is blond, thick, and curly. The base is carved as one with the statue. The composition is unbalanced, the right side outweighing the left. It may be that the cape was added in the course of a restoration. It hangs out past the right edge of the base, whereas the left side of the cape hangs close to the body.

It appears that the artist made the body first and then attached the head and hands. The break between the head and the trunk is visible inside the collar. The left hand is missing, and in the sleeve is the peg to which the hand was attached. In the back is a peg which could have supported wings.

The right index finger is missing, as are the top joints of the right middle finger and pinkie. At the breaks one can see the wood and gesso. Paint is flaking from the right temple.

Basis for Identification: Gold sunburst on the breast of the robe.

Other characteristics: White robe, blue mantle.

Site: Church of San Pablo Huitzo.

Location: Right side of the second altar along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood and stiffened cloth, gesso, paint. Repainted. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: sculpted.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla (with Sacred Heart), Coixtlahuaca1, Coixtlahuaca2Teotitlán, Yanhuitlán1 (in case with crucifix), Yanhuitlán2.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Baby Jesus

Next: Moving now to the third altar along the north wall, a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Previous santo

Introduction to San Pablo Huitzo

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.