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. Paul

Saint Paul:
The point of the sword rests on the floor and the saint holds it somewhat as one might a walking stick. The rolled paper scroll is held forth in the left hand, on the right index finger of which a golden ring has been placed.

The saint is shown in middle age and has an ascetic, high-boned face and a full, oval beard. The garments are the same color as the unidentified saint at the left of the altar: white robe, red cape, gold cincture. The design on the cape is of appliquéd gold lamé, like the bib of the Carmen which is also in the sanctuary and may be from the same hand. The altar was designed to accommodate only this one statue.

Local Name: San Pablo.

Basis for Identification: Scroll, long Spanish sword, beard, halo.

Other characteristics: Ring on index finger, white robe, red cape.

Site: Church of San Pablo Huitzo.

Location: Center of the main altar (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments, metal halo and sword, paper scroll. Eyes: glass.

Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Etla, Mitla1, Mitla2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. Paul in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Paul
Wikipedia: Paul the Apostle
Christian Iconography: Saint Paul the Apostle

Next: Right of the altar, a statue of St. Peter

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.