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

St. Isidore the Laborer

Saint Isidore the Laborer:
The tunic was made by applying cloth to wood before the polychroming. At the bottom left of the tunic, the polychrome pattern shines through the recent paint. The statue shows deterioration. The left boot is chipped and the rotting wood and worn cloth can be seen. The left hand, which holds the basket, has broken middle and pinkie fingers; the right pinkie has been glued on crookedly.

From the extended right arm, the full sleeves of the tunic hang down to hip level; the belted tunic closes with four black buttons. At the neck, the white collar of the shirt shows. The oxen have been decorated with necklaces of blackware beads. The basket is of Tlacolula design.

Local Name: San Isidro Labrador.

Basis for Identification: Yoked white oxen, goad, white straw hat, short brown tunic, basket, sheaf of straw carried on the back.

Other characteristics: Bead necklaces on the oxen.

Site: Church of San Pablo Huitzo.

Location: On an unpainted andas on the extreme right of the altar in the first bay in the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Repainted polychrome. The oxen are of modern wood, gesso, paint. Woven straw hat. Split-bamboo basket.

Size: About 2½ feet (75 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: CoixtlahuacaTamazulapan, Teitipac, Teposcolula, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Isidore the Laborer in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Isidore the Labourer
Wikipedia: Isidore the Laborer
Christian Iconography: Saint Isidore the Laborer

Next: Moving ahead to the second altar along the north wall, we find a statue of St. Anthony of Padua.

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.