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.

History of the Churches Studied
Lay Organizations
Styles of Santos
List of Churches Studied
List of Saints Represented

Begin your tour with the Church of San Miguel Achiutla

WELCOME TO THIS STUDY of the santos in the 16th-century Dominican churches of Oaxaca, Mexico. The term santos refers both to "saints" and to the statues of the saints that have graced Mexico's churches almost from the beginning of the period of Christianization. Many santos were imported from Spain or produced in Mexico by artists of Spanish birth, but soon their production was undertaken by the indigenous people. In the summer of 1991, thanks to a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, we visited churches, chapels and conventos in the states of Oaxaca, Yucatán, and Chiapas. Thirty-one of these were Dominican churches in Oaxaca, established by the Dominican friars invited by Hernán Cortés.
History of the Churches Studied
Lay Organizations in Oaxaca
Styles of Santos
Begin the Tour
Links to the Churches Studied
Links to Individual Saints / Iconographic Types



We had the opportunity to observe the interdependence of the public and religious institutions in the towns of the Central Valley, and in those of the Mixteca Alta. We began our study of the polychrome art of 16th century Oaxaca with a visit to the restored Santo Domingo, in the state capital. There we had the great fortune of encountering Padre Paco, the Dominican Superior, and at that time in charge of the parish. It is in great part thanks to Padre Paco that our research went as smoothly as it did.

Padre Paco introduced us to Licenciado Ruben Vasconselos-Beltrán, Director de Educación, Cultura, y Bienestar Social del Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca, a scholar of the art of Colonial Oaxaca, and a gifted photographer. Licenciado Vasconselos-Beltrán spent more than an hour explaining the administrative structure in the towns of Oaxaca and the town officials' growing distrust of strangers. He told us of thefts in almost every church in the state, of promises not kept by visiting scholars, and he gave us names and addresses of people who would be able to smooth our path. His most valuable work as a teacher was to list for us churches where we would find some outstanding examples of the art of polychrome, which were to become our guide in making deductions about the construction of individual work. Since our visit, Licenciado Vasconselos-Beltran has written a book which most thoroughly outlines the lives of the saints whose statues we here catalog.

Another person who was of invaluable assistance is Sra. María de los Angeles Romero Frizzi, Director of the Oaxaca office of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Sra. de los Angeles kindly enlarged on the overview that Sr. Vasconselos Beltrán had presented and she familiarized us with the titles of the people on whom we would be dependent as we traveled through the state. She provided us with an official letter of introduction, without which our work could not have continued.

We went to Oaxaca with the expectation of being able to visit at least 39 of the major sites listed in Dominican Architecture in Oaxaca, by James R. Mullen. This would have made possiblea careful study of churches in all parts of the state and have involved many overnight stays in the far mountains of the east and in Tehuantepec. Most towns not directly on Route 190, the Pan-American highway, proved to have limited public access and at that time had no facilities for overnight guests, though today many of these centers have built tourist yu'us or simple inns. As a result, we established a base in Oaxaca City and left early each morning to visit outlying sites. In this way, we were able to study carefully all of the churches in the Central Valley that had been mentioned by Mullen or suggested by Señor Vasconcelos-Bertrán, as well as all but one of the Dominican conventos in the Mixteca Alta.

Our greatest disappointment is that we were not able to study the written records of the parishes. It took time to gain the confidence of the Presidente in each town, and we were not invariably successful. Then, though we might photograph the santos, he was wary of letting us see the records.

History of the Churches

From the 14th century on, the history of the modern state of Oaxaca is, like that of Mexico itself, a story of confrontation, assimilation, labor, and creativity. In the narrow lands that lie between the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Sierra Oaxaqueña, and in the highlands of the Mixteca, the civilizations of the Mixtec, the Zapotec, the Aztec, and the Spanish clashed and compromised, bartered and built. The modern residents of Oaxaca are a people confident of their place in history, and of the value of the traditions they honor.

The faces of tradition have changed through revolution and the advent of the 20th century, but the structures of municipal governance are much the same. The 16th century Dominicans were aware of the Zapotec and Mixtec demand for regularized participation in the social order of the Marquisate. The indigenous peoples had survived the attacks of the Olmec and the rule of the Aztec. They had created perhaps the longest enduring society in Mesoamerica. When the new conquerors arrived, the nobles and priests of Zaachila and Mitla demanded participation in the development of the colonial society. In order to ensure their cooperation in the creation of the new civilization, a system of cargos parallel to the ancient positions filled by priests, scribes, curanderos, and others was gradually granted to the men. Imported from Spain, where they were aimed at cementing relationship through service to the Church, full-blown Mayordomías or cofradías were in place in the Oaxacan communities by the second half of the 17th century. These Spanish brotherhoods replaced or re-formed pre-Conquest indigenous patterns of social obligation.

Lay Organizations

Today, the mayordomías are likely to be known as asociaciones and their leaders most often are not mayordomo but Presidente. The change has occurred because of the constitutional need for the separation of church and state and because of the national distrust of the pervasive influence of the Catholic church throughout most of Mexican history. It is clear that today the distrust is on an official rather than village level. In the Valley of Oaxaca, the Presidente of the municipality is likely to be a member of the church's asociacion, perhaps even its presidente. This close relationship is a natural result of the fact that churches and their dependencies are the property of the state, and the church buildings and their contents have been the trust of the local governments.

The best preserved of the churches are kept, not surprisingly, by the asociaciones whose structure most closely resemble mayordomías as established by the Friars. We found these in the small towns of the Central Valley, west of the City of Oaxaca. In each of these towns, the church shares the zocalo, or central square, with the municipal building, and the secular authorities have responsibility for the safety and upkeep of the church. In order to enter the churches, if there were no service being celebrated, we had to seek out the Presidente or the Encargado, the keeper of the church keys. Often, our research had to be approved by both of these individuals, and, on more than one occasion, we had to make appointments to meet with the responsible parties and so return on another day.

In all cases in this area, the persons responsible were men, elected by members of the all-male asociaciones for terms of two or three years. During that time, they saw to the repair of the church, either by getting government support for restoration or by organizing volunteer teams. In San Juan Teitipac, the asociación was digging a new well in the posada, or enclosed church yard. In Santa Ana del Valle, the men were teaching religion classes, planting an avenue of bougainvillea, and repairing the buses that the municipal government and the asociaciones had bought some months before.

In every church that we visited, the principal responsibility of the asociación was the organization of the town's celebration of feast days. The feast days are determined by the Church calendar and are celebrated at set times each year. They represent the commemoration and celebration of important events in the history of the Catholic Church, most usually, in the lives of Christ and of the saints. In Oaxaca, the services usually involve the use of portable altars, or andas, on which the statue of the saint (called a santo) being revered is processed through the church, the churchyard, or, on great feast days, through the town. Therefore, each asociación is dedicated to a particular saint or saints and to the care of the appropriate santo. Such care had of course begun with the procurement of a suitable effigy of the saint. We noted again and again that in the ancient churches of Oaxaca, a santo might have been obtained at any time in the last 450 years, and might have undergone major changes since it had first been purchased or made for the mayordomía.

Once the Presidente had agreed to permit our research, we found all members of the organizations very helpful and eager to facilitate the study. They are very proud of the beauty and history of the churches and of the role that they continue to play in preserving the treasures of their communities. The encargados were particularly knowledgeable about the contemporary uses of the contents of the buildings, but almost no one in any of the towns was thoroughly cognizant of the history of the churches. We were always most cordially and most carefully guided through the church, both because of the need for security and because the encargado was eager to be sure that we got the story right.

Through the celebration of the feast days, the asociaciones continue the tradition of repartition of wealth as practiced by the mayordomías. With the proceeds of offerings to the saints and by collecting a hefty sum monthly from each member of the group, they buy offerings of candles and flowers so that anyone who comes to the church may light a votive candle, carry it to the santo, pray, then take the candle to be lit at their home altar. Banks of gladiola are in every active church. The people break off the stems and rub the blossoms on the santos while praying, then carry the rest of the stalk home. In some churches, usually in the bigger centers where the Indigenous worshipers feel freer, there might be offerings of tamales, embroidered cloth, marigolds or tortillas, but these are brought by individuals, and are meant to remain on the altars. Pinned to the clothing of the santos, we saw hundreds of silver/tin amulets, photos of lost relatives, and some $2.00 U.S. bills. These also are offerings to the saint and become the property of the mayordomía or asociación.

Styles of Santos

We found six distinct styles of santos in the Central Valley and in the Mixteca Alta.

  1. Statues representing Christ from Palm Sunday through the Resurrection.
  2. Polychrome statues of angels and of Biblical and historical saints. These sometimes are fitted out with new robes of fabric, a wig and new symbols, so that over the centuries, the mayordomía could make the figure represent a more popular saint.
  3. Framework Santos. Carefully carved, gessoed and painted heads and hands are attached to a rough cone of hoops and barrel staves. The figure is then provided a wig, symbols and a robe that hides all but the carved features. These figures usually represent Biblical figures, especially those associated with the Passion, but might sometimes represent friars and nuns. They are light in weight so as to be easily processed through the town.
  4. Carved statues of wood, gesso, and paint whose extremities are carefully finished and whose joints are movable. These figures are usually bewigged and are dressed in fabric clothing. The statues might represent anyone in the Christian panoply. They are often kept in glass and wood cases, sometimes bearing the names and dates of the men who bought the case. On feast days, these are carried on andas to altars around the church and to little chapels, sometimes in other parts of the town.
  5. Plaster statues of saints.
  6. Simply carved wood statues, usually painted. These were likely to be of Christ or of a saint especially popular among the farmers, San Isidro Labrador. This santo is represented in the clothing of an 18th century peasant, with gourd and knapsack, and with at least one team of oxen. In each church, the saint's oxen and clothing are given by the asociacion or by the mayordomo individually, and an old statue may have six or seven sets, plus a carved angel to plough the carved field. A San Isidro could usually be found with still other carved or plastic animals, cobs of seed corn, and wreaths of wheat.
  7. Polychromed busts of Mary and plaques representing the great scenes of Christ's life are still extant in some very few churches in Oaxaca. These are not included in our study of the santos.

Churches in this study:

  1. Achiutla: San Miguel
  2. Coixtlahuaca: San Juan Bautista
  3. Cuilapan: Santiago
  4. Diaz Ordaz: Santo Domingo
  5. Ejutla: San Miguel
  6. Etla: San Pedro y Pablo
  7. Guelavia: San Juan
  8. Huitzo: San Pablo
  9. Ixtapa: San Felipe
  10. Jaltepec: Santa Magdalena
  11. Mitla: San Pablo
  12. Mixtepec: Santa Cruz
  13. Nochixtlán: Santa Maria de la Asunción
  14. Ocotlán: Santo Domingo
  15. Puerto Escondido
  16. Santa Ana del Valle
  17. Tamazulapan: Santa Maria de la Natividad
  18. Teitipac: San Juan
  19. Tejuapam: Santiago
  20. Teotitlán del Valle: Virgen de la Navidad
  21. Teposcolula: San Pedro y San Pablo
  22. Tilantongo: Santiago
  23. Tlacochahuaya: San Jerónimo
  24. Tlacolula: La Anunciación de Nuestra Señora
  25. Tlaxiaco: Santa María de la Asunción
  26. El Tule: Santa María de la Asunción
  27. Xoxocotlan: Santa Elena de la Cruz
  28. Yanhuitlan: Santo Domingo
  29. Zaachila: Santa María de la Natividad
  30. Zimatlan: San Lorenzo

Saints / Iconographic Types Represented by the Santos

In iconography an attribute is a visible element in an image that identifies the subject. For example, St. Paul is almost always represented holding a long sword pointed to the ground. An iconographic type is any traditional set of attributes. For example, the iconographic type that identifies St. Paul includes not only the sword but also his baldness (balding from the front), his beard (more pointy than square), and his holding a book. Some attributes are invariable in a given iconographic type; others are more optional (such as St. Paul's book). Sometimes in Oaxaca an otherwise invariable attribute is missing because of the accidents of time. For some saints there may be more than one iconographic type; for Jesus and Mary there are many. 

The following, in alphabetical order by saint, is a list of the saints / iconographic types included in our study. With a few exceptions, we do not include santos that were not photographed. The attributes listed refer only to the santos in this study; images from other parts of the world may have others.

Fire, Person Standing in
Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Jesus Christ as a Child
Jesus Christ as the Niño de Atocha
Jesus Christ Carrying the Cross
Jesus Christ Crucified
Jesus Christ: Ecce Homo
Jesus Christ Entering Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
Jesus Christ Fallen Beneath the Cross
Jesus Christ in a Coffin
Jesus Christ Resurrected
Jesus Christ: Sacred Heart
Jesus Christ Scourged at the Pillar
Jesus Christ Seated in the Pretorium
Nativity of Mary
Our Lady of Candelaria
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Assumption
Our Lady of the Assumption (recumbent)

Our Lady of the Rosary
St. Anne: Anna Selbdritt
St. Anne: Other
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Benedict
St. Catherine of Alexandria
St. Christopher
St. Dismas
St. Dominic
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Hedwig
St. Helena
St. Hyacinth
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. James as a Pilgrim
St. James the Moorslayer
St. Jerome in Contemplation
St. Joachim
St. John the Baptist (portrait type)
St. John the Baptist as a Child
St. John the Baptist, Beheading of
St. John the Evangelist as at the Foot of the Cross
St. Joseph

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatotzin
St. Lawrence
St. Mary Magdalene as at the Foot of the Cross
St. Mary Magdalene (portrait type)
St. Michael
St. Nicholas Factor as a Contemplative
St. Nicholas Factor as a Flagellant
St. Peter of Verona
St. Peter the Apostle
St. Philip of Jesus
St. Raphael
St. Rose of Lima
St. Sebastian
St. Simon Stock
St. Stephen
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Thér
èse of Lisieux
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Veronica
The Trinity as Throne of Mercy
The Trinity with Son on the Right Hand
Virgin and Child

Virgin Mary: generic
Virgin Mary recumbent
Fire: Person standing in fire

See the "
Figure in Flames" section of the Ejutla Other Santos page for a discussion of the iconography.

Immaculate Conception, The

Santos studied: Tamazulapan and possibly Tlaxiaco.

Invariable attributes: Halo of twelve stars, horned moon, praying hands.

Optional attribute: Blue mantle.

External links
Wikimedia Commons:
Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Conception
Wikipedia: Immaculate Conception
Christian Iconography: The Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Santos studied: Cuilapan, Huitzo, Mitla Teitipac, Teposcolula, Zaachila.

Invariable attributes: A red heart in a metal sunburst background pinned to the chest of the Virgin, who wears a white veil and some sort of headpiece (tiara, halo, etc.).

Optional attributes: Robe is white (5 of 6), mantle is blue (3 of 6). Cincture is tasseled and in gold or white.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Statues of the Immaculate Conception in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Wikipedia: Immaculate Heart of Mary

Also see the Zimatlán Lady of Sorrows.

Jesus Christ as a Child

Santos studied: Achiutla (with a Sacred Heart statue), Coixtlahuaca2, Huitzo (boy, not infant), Teotitlán, Yanhuitlán1 (in case with crucifix), Yanhuitlán2. Also see Virgin and Child.

Invariable attributes: Boy between 1 and 6 years old, wearing a fancy robe or dress (usually white) and a cape.

Optional attributes: Right hand raised in blessing, globe in left hand.

External Link:
Wikimedia Commons: Baby Jesus

Jesus Christ as the Niño de Atocha

Santo studied:

Attributes shared with exemplars outside of Oaxaca: Child of perhaps 3 years, holding a basket and wearing a dress and a flat-top hat, seated on a chair.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Santo Niño de Atocha
Santo Niño de Atocha

Jesus Christ Carrying the Cross

Santos studied: Achiutla, Cuilapan, Tlaxiaco, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Cross finished in green with brass caps at the four ends. Short, pointed beard, slightly forked. Streams of blood on face. Long robe with tasseled cincture of gold cord.

Optional attributes: Cross made of wood rounded like dowels with brass floral motifs, crown of thorns in basket-weave pattern.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Jesus Carrying the Cross
Catholic Encyclopedia: Way of the Cross
Wikipedia: Stations of the Cross

Jesus Christ Crucified

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case), Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Cross, corpus nailed to cross at hands and feet, wound in the right side of the torso.

Optional attributes: The cross is usually green (19 exemplars) and made of round dowels (21 exemplars), sometimes natural wood color (9 exemplars) and flat (13 examplars). Usually the three upper termini of the cross pieces are either capped in bronze (10 exemplars) or painted in imitation of brass (11 examplars). Round crosspieces sometimes have spiral fluting (10 exemplars) or a bronze-colored leaf-and-vine pattern applied to the crosspieces (5 exemplars). An INRI plaque is at the top of the vertical crosspiece in 23 exemplars.

We do not have complete records regarding the body wounds but did observe bloody wounds or lesions to the shoulders (10 exemplars), forehead (19 exemplars), or knees (26 exemplars). The most common garment worn by the corpus is not the perizoma traditional in Europe and the U.S. (only 3 exemplars) but a wrap-around skirt with a round cloth shield (19 exemplars plus 2 where the shield is rectangular) or without a shield (11 exemplars). Ten exemplars had metal halos: 3 in the cruciform pattern, 6 in the sunburst pattern, and 2 combining both patterns. Thirteen exemplars had a crown of thorns, always in the basket-weave pattern; 12 of these were of metal, 7 of which were attached to a halo.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Crucifixes in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Archaeology of the Cross and Crucifix
Wikipedia: Crucifix
Christian Iconography: The Crucifixion

Jesus Christ: Ecce Homo

Santos studied: Ejutla, Etla Soldedad Group, Etla2, Mitla, Santa Ana del Valle, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tilantongo, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán.

Invariable attributes: Standing figure in purple or red robe (white in Etla2) with gold trim (none in Etla2). Blood streams from the forehead and skinned left cheek. Skinned fingers or hands (except Tamazulapan). Tasseled cincture (except Teotitlán). Short, pointy beard, slightly forked.

Optional attributes: Crown of thorns in basket-weave pattern (9 of 14) or with naturalistic thorns (3 of 14), and/or cruciform halo (3 of 14). Right cheek also skinned (Mitla, Teitipac3). Color of cincture can be gold (10 of 13), white (2) or purple (1). Tasseled lasso hanging on the chest from around the neck (4 of 14), or rosary hanging likewise (Teitipac 1). Hands tied together (4 of 14). Additional garments: cape in Etla1 and Tlacolula, white under-robe in Tamazulapan.

External links: The episode of Pilate's showing the scourged Jesus to the crowd is in John 19:1-5.
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Ecce Homo.

Jesus Christ Entering Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)

Santos studied: Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan, Mitla, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán.

Invariable attributes: Christ in a short, pointy, slightly forked beard, riding an ass.

Optional attributes: Barefoot (7 of 11), right arm raised (8 of 11). Statue is accompanied by palm leaves or weavings made of palm leaf (6 of 11). Where fabric is used (7 of 11) the figure always wears a purple mantle. Five of the santos have a cruciform halo; the others have no halo.

External Link:
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Palmesel

Jesus Christ Fallen Beneath the Cross

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Etla, Guelavia, Huitzo, Teposcolula, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Purple robe edged in gold or lace, tied with a tasseled rope cincture in white or gold, cross of two green dowels with brass end-caps, blood flowing on face and hands,

Optional attributes: Bloody scrapes on the cheek and (when visible) the knee, floral patterns in brass applied to the cross. Rope yoke hanging loosely from the neck, fastened with a brooch (Teposcolula) or with a knot similar to those used in Mexican weddings. Crown of thorns in basket-weave pattern (except Coixtlahuaca). Cruciform halo (Etla).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Jesus Fallen Beneath the Cross
Catholic Encyclopedia: Way of the Cross
Wikipedia: Stations of the Cross

Jesus Christ in a Coffin

Santos studied: Huitzo, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán, Zaachila.

Invariable attributes: Glass-sided coffin with life-size Christ statue recumbent. Short, pointy, slightly forked beard.

Optional attributes: Fabric coverlet covering all but face and hands (all but Teitipac). Bare-headed (all but Tamazulapan, which has a sunburst halo). Blood flowing from forehead, bruised or skinned left cheek (all but Teitipac). Offering placed on coverlet at the chest (a bread roll at Mitla, flowers at Teotitlan, stylized crown of thorns at Tamazulapan).

External link:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of suffering Christ in a coffin.

Jesus Christ Resurrected

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan, Mitla, Teitipac, Teotitlán, TeposcolulaYanhuitlán, Zaachila.

Invariable attributes: Christ in a white garment, barefoot and holding a tall pole with a banner. (No banner at Yanhuitlán, hand curled as if to hold a pole with banner at Teitipac and Teposcolula.) Short, pointy, slightly forked beard.

Optional attributes: One hand raised as if in blessing (7 of 9). Red mantle over the white garment (3 of 9), which is most often a full robe (6 of 9).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Resurrection of Christ in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Wikipedia: Resurrection of Jesus
Christian Iconography: The Resurrection

Jesus Christ: Sacred Heart of Jesus

Santos studied: Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huitzo, Tamazulapan, Teposcolula, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Christ in a short, pointy, slightly forked beard wearing a white robe and red mantle (except Achiutla, red robe and white mantle). A heart is pinned to the robe at the chest.

Optional attributes: Tasseled gold-colored cincture (5 of 7), cruciform halo (5 of 7), sunburst behind heart (2 of 7).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Wikipedia: Sacred Heart

Jesus Christ Scourged at the Pillar

Santos studied: Achiutla, Etla, Coixtlahuaca, Huitzo.

Invariable attributes: A short classical pillar about breastbone-high, with a distinct base and capital. Cords tie the figure's hands to the top of the capital. The figure is naked but for a short skirt or loincloth and has a short, pointed beard, slightly forked. Blood flows along the body. Scuffed knees and elbows.

Optional attributes: The figure is standing. (In Coixtlahuaca, fallen to the floor.) Crown of thorns (2 of the 4 exemplars: in one other blood flows from the forehead as if the crown were there; in Achiutla the head and face are intact and unbloodied).

External Links:
For the scourging see Gospel of John 19:1.

Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Christ at the Column
Wikipedia: Flagellation of Christ
Christian Iconography:  Jesus is Scourged...and Displayed to the Crowd

Jesus Christ Seated in the Pretorium ("Pensive Christ")

Santos studied: Ejutla, Etla, Guelavia, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teposcolula, Tilantongo, Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán.

Invariable attributes: Seated with head on hand (except Ejutla), wearing trousers (except Ejutla: loincloth) and a red cape (dun cape in Teitipac). Blood streams from forehead and from skinned left cheek. Short, pointy, slightly forked beard. Bloodied hands (except Teitipac). When visible, one or both knees appear scuffed and bloodied.

Optional attributes: A long scepter (4 of 10) or a hand curved as if to hold a scepter (3 of 10). A crown of thorns (7 of 10) in the basket-weave pattern (6 of 7), to which a cruciform halo may be attached (2 of 7). A cincture of gold rope (3 of 10) or a cloth band (1). A rope lasso hanging from around the neck (4 of 10). Scrapes on hands (4 of 10). Upper torso naked (6 of 10).

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

The Nativity of Mary

Santo studied: Zaachila.

Our Lady of Candelaria

Santos studied: Santa Ana del Valle, Teitipac.

Invariable attributes: The Virgin and Child holding candlesticks, the Virgin wearing a crown whose upper section comprises three intersecting hoops. The candlesticks have been lost in the Santa Ana exemplar and in the hand of the Child in Teitipac, but in both exemplars the figures' hands are curled as if holding such an item.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of La Virgen de la Candelaria in Mexico
Wikipedia: Virgin of Candelaria
Christian Iconography: La Candelaria

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Santos studied: Tlaxiaco, Yanhuitlán.

Invariable attributes: The Virgin standing on a horned moon that is supported by an angel, wearing a crown above a blue mantle that covers the back of the head and is adorned with stars. Praying hands. Background: a sunburst mandorla.

Optional attributes: The Yanhuitlan lacks the crown and the mandorla but adds a small figure of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, to whom the Virgin was said to have appeared.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Reproductions of the Juan Diego Image
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca main altar, Cuilapan, Ejutla, Etla, Guelavia, Huitzo, Teitipac, Teposcolula, Tlaxiaco, Xoxocotlán, Zaachila, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Virgin wearing a white veil and a brown Carmelite habit and holding the Child in a white baptismal gown (Zimatlán: a white cape), with scapular(s) hanging from the wrists of one or both figures. The Carmelite habit includes a rectangluar ankle-length bib.

Optional attributes: Crowns on the Virgin (10 of 12 exemplars) and the Child (8 of 12). All but 2 of these 20 crowns are shaped with three intersecting hoops atop a circular headband (like the crown of English monarchs). Seven of the Virgin figures also have sunburst halos with stars. One of the Child figures has a cruciform halo.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Mexico
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
Virgen del Carmen (in Spanish).
Christian Iconography: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Sorrows (other than Soledad)

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Ejutla, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula (in Calvary group), Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán (?), Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Virgin standing in robe and mantle with sorrowful upturned gaze.

Optional attributes: Praying hands (15 of 18), blue mantle (15 of 18), face enclosed by mantle, veil, or wimple (12 of 18), sunburst halo (13 of 18, 7 of them with stars), metal heart pinned to chest (3 of 18, 2 of them pierced by swords).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Mater dolorosa
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Sorrows
Christian Iconography: Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother

Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan, Ejutla, Etla, Huitzo, Mitla, Teotitlán, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Tilantongo, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: A black robe; a black mantle edged in white or gold and reaching from the top of the head to the feet, arranged to give the whole a triangular shape (exception: Zimatlán, off white with dark green brocade and no edging). The garments leave visible only the face (or in Achiutla and Teposcolula2 the face and neck). Praying hands. Downcast eyes (except Teposcolula1).

Optional attributes: A crown (9 of 15) or sunburst halo (5 of 15), a wimple (13 of 15).

Other notable features: Brocaded patterns on the mantle (7 of 15). In the hands a piece of lace (3 of 15) or flowers (3 of 15).

External link:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Mater Dolorosa

Our Lady of the Assumption (ascending)

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla1Mitla1, Mitla2Teitipac, Tlacolula, possibly Tlaxiaco, Tule.

Invariable attributes: Standing on a horned moon (7 of 8). Bareheaded (when the figure is crowned [3 of 8] the crown nevertheless sits on bare hair). Hands in orant (2 of 8) or praying-hands position (6 of 8). For non-polychrome statues, the mantle is always blue.

Optional attributes: Eyes looking down (4 of 8). Faces of angels are provided with the moon or around the head (4 of 8).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of the Assumption of Mary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Assumption of Mary
Christian Iconography: The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Our Lady of the Assumption (recumbent)

Santo studied: Ejutla2. We identify this as Our Lady of the Assumtion: a similar Virgin was so identified in Paterna, Valencia, Spain.

Attributes: Recumbent in a glass case, blue mantle under a white lace veil.

Our Lady of the Rosary

Santos studied: Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2 (2 exemplars on this page), Teotitlán, Teposcolula, .

Invariable attributes: Virgin wearing a blue (7 of 8) mantle and holding the Christ Child in her left arm, one or two rosaries hanging from the hands of one or both.

Optional attributes: Crown worn by both figures (6 of 8).

Outliers: Two Virgin santos at Xoxocotlán that we have identified as Our Lady of the Rosary simply on the basis of their rosaries seem nevertheless to be outside this iconographic type. Neither has a Christ Child, nor a blue mantle. Neither is crowned.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Our Lady of the Rosary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Our Lady of the Rosary
Christian Iconography: Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint Anne: Anna Selbdritt

Santos studied: Santa Ana 2

Invariable attributes: The Anna Selbdritt iconographic type has St. Anne holding a young Virgin Mary, who in turn holds the Christ Child. In our Oaxaca study we found just one St. Anne of this type.

External link:
Wikimedia Commons: Search for Anna Selbdritt
Wikipedia: Anna selbdritt

Saint Anne: Other

Santos studied: Santa Ana del Valle 1, Santa Ana 3, and perhaps Teotitlán.

Invariable attributes: A mantle that covers the head and reaches past mid-calf, the face framed by a wimple or other device.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Anne in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Anne
Wikipedia: Saint Anne
Christian Iconography: Saint Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary

Saint Anthony of Padua

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Etla, Huitzo, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teposcolula, Tlacolula.

Invariable attributes: Brown Franciscan habit with a rope cincture (except Mitla), tonsure, the Christ Child seated on the left arm.

Optional attributes: The child is seated on a book that rests on the left arm/hand (5 of 8). Halo (2 of 8).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Anthony of Padua in México
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Anthony of Padua
Wikipedia: Anthony of Padua
Christian Iconography: Saint Anthony of Padua

Saint Benedict

Only one examplar studied, in Teitipac.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Only one santo, doubtfully identified at Tejuapam.

Saint Christopher

Santo studied: Only one, in the church at Yanhuitlán., where the attributes are explained in detail.

External link: Christian Iconography, Saint Christopher

Saint Dismas

Only one exemplar, in the museum in the former convent in Yanhuitlan. Also see the santos of the two thieves in Teposcolula.

Saint Dominic

Santos studied: Teposcolula (Our Lady of the Rosary case), Yanhuitlán (Church) 1, Yanhuitlan (Church) 2, Yanhuitlán (Museum)

Invariable attributes: Dominican habit, tonsure, rosary, star in forehead (except Teposcolula).

Optional attributes: Halo (2 of 4).

One other santo, of St. Peter at Teotitlán, seems to have been a St. Dominic originally.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. Dominic in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Dominic
Wikipedia: Saint Dominic
Christian Iconography:
Saint Dominic

St. Francis of Assisi

Santos studied: Ejutla, Teotitlán.

Attributes: Both are tonsured and have the brown Franciscan habit with rope cincture. The stigmata are visible in Ejutla; as for Teotitlán, we cannot be sure about the stigmata from our notes and the photo.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Francis of Assisi in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis of Assisi
Wikipedia: Francis of Assisi
Christian Iconography:
St. Francis of Assisi

Saint Hedwig

Santos studied: Only one, at Tule.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Hedwig of Andechs
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Hedwig
Wikipedia: Hedwig of Silesia

Saint Helena

Santos studied: Only one, at Xoxocotlán.

Attributes: As in European images of this saint, the figure wears a crown and stands holding a large cross.

External links:
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Helena
Wikipedia: Helena (Empress)
Christian Iconography: Saint Helena

Saint Hyacinth

Santos studied: Huitzo, Teitipac, Teotitlán del Valle.

Attributes: Dominican habit, tonsure, monstrance or ciborium (Teitipac: right hand curled as if to hold something like a ciborium), in the left hand statue of the Virgin and Child (Huitzo: just a base and vertical support for such a statue).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Hyacinth in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Hyacinth
Wikipedia: Saint Hyacinth

Saint Isidore the Laborer

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Huitzo, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teposcolula, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Trousers (6 of 6), yoked oxen (6 of 6), boots.

Optional attributes: Goad (5 of 6), long jacket with broad collar (4 of 6), wheat sheaves or corn cobs (3 of 6), satchel (3 of 6), straw hat (2 of 6), gourd (2 of 6).

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

Saint James as a Pilgrim

Santos studied: Tejuapam (no photograph), Tilantongo.

Attributes: Pilgrim's staff, gourd.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint James the Greater in Mexico
Christian Iconography: St. James the Greater, Apostle

Saint James the Moorslayer

Santos studied: Cuilapan, Tilantongo2, Tilantongo 3

Attributes: Man on horseback, sword in upraised right hand (the sword is missing in Tilantongo 3), wearing a cape, boots, and a feathered helmet.

Tilantongo1 has a child in a cape and helmet (no feathers) with right hand upraised and hand curled as if to hold a sword. But the figure is not on horseback. We take this to be a variation, perhaps unique to this church, of the Moorslayer iconographic type.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Santiago Matamoros in Mexico
Wikipedia: Saint James the Moor-slayer
Christian Iconography: St. James the Greater, Apostle

Saint Jerome in Contemplation

Santos studied: Only two, at Tlacochahuaya (one in the west façade, one at the high altar).

Attributes: The figure beats his breast while contemplating a crucifix. The work in the façade includes a skull, a common attribute of contemplatives.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Jerome in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Jerome
Wikipedia: Jerome
Christian Iconography: Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Church

Saint Joachim

Santo studied: Only one doubtbul identification, at El Tule.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons:
Saint Joachim
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Joachim
Wikipedia: Joachim

Saint John the Baptist, portrait type

Santos studied: Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Huitzo, Mitla, TeitipacTeitipac ("San Juanito"), Teotitlán, Zimatlán.

Invariable attributes: Camel-skin inner garment, cape (Huitzo: wraparound), short beard with slight indent, full head of hair, barefoot. Tall cross held as a standard in the right hand (Coixtlahuaca: left hand).

Optional attributes: Lamb on book poised on left hand (5 of 8), left hand posed as if to hold the book and lamb (2 of 8).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. John the Baptist in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Baptist
Wikipedia: John the Baptist
Christian Iconography: St. John the Baptist, Prophet and Martyr

Saint John the Baptist as a child

Santo studied: Tamazulapan

Attributes: Curly-headed child holds a tall cross as a standard in the right hand, a book in the left. A lamb stands by the side of the figure.

Saint John the Baptist, Beheading of

Santo studied: Teitipac

Attributes: Severed head and bloody neck sitting in a bowl. The hair and beard are as in the portrait type. Pressed tin halo of intersecting circles.

Saint John the Evangelist as at the foot of the Cross

Santos studied: Ejutla, Huitzo, Mitla (Calvary grouping), Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula.

Invariable attributes: Beardless man in a mustache looking up as at the Cross.

Optional attributes: Instead of a beard a mustache (6 of 7) and goatee (4 of 6). Right hand on breast while left hand is extended and held palm-up (2 of 7). Wherever the feet are visible (3 of 7) they are unshod. Halo (4 of 7).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint John the Evangelist in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Evangelist
Wikipedia: John the Evangelist
Christian Iconography: Saint John the Evangelist

Saint Joseph

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Teitipac.

Invariable attributes: Lily stalk in the right hand (7 of 9: in the other two the fingers are clearly curled as for holding such a stalk). Left hand either holds the Christ Child (5 of 9) or is held palm-up as if to hold him (4 of 9). Beard like that of the adult Jesus: short, pointy, slightly indented.

Optional attributes: Green color somewhere in the garments (7 of 9): cape or robe or (for polychrome) underlying the gold adornment. Crowns on the saint (4 of 9) and the child (3 of 4). Also note that Achiutla's santo has a flat hat of the kind worn by the person playing St. Joseph in the posadas.

Outlier: Teotitlán has a santo that local people call San Joao and identify with St. Joseph. Except for the beard, this santo has nothing in common with the nine St. Josephs described above.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Joseph in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Joseph
Wikipedia: Saint Joseph
Christian Iconography: Saint Joseph, Father of Jesus

Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatotzin

Santo studied: Yanhuitlán

Saint Lawrence

Santo studied: Only one, in Zimatlán

Saint Mary Magdalene as at the foot of the Cross

Santos studied: Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, EjutlaOcotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán.

Invariable attributes: Uncovered flowing blond or brown hair, upturned gaze (except Ocotlán), halo.

Optional attributes: Robe and cape in various colors (6 of 6), hands in various poses suited to the Calvary context: orant, praying hands, crossed on breast, etc.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Mary Magdalene in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Mary Magdalene
Wikipedia: Mary Magdalene
Christian Iconography: St. Mary Magdalene, Follower of Christ

Saint Mary Magdalene, portrait type

Santos studied: HuitzoTeposcolula.

Invariable attributes: Uncovered brown hair, chalice-like oil jar in one hand, halo.

Optional attributes: Eyes looking forward, cape and white robe.

External links: (see above)

Saint Michael

Santos studied: Achiutla1 (not included in statistics below), Achiutla2, Achiutla3, Achiutla4, Cuilapan, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3, Yanhuitlán, Yanhuitlán Crucifix Group.

Invariable attributes: Right hand holds or is positioned to hold a sword (13 of 13).

Optional attributes: A short tunic (10 of 13) with a square opening at the neck (7 of 10), bare knees (8 of 13), military boots (10 of 13), helmet (5 of 13), a weapon or banner in the left hand (4 of 13), breastplate (3 of 13), skirt (4 of 13), the motto Quien como Dios ("Who is like God" – the Hebrew meaning of "Michael"), 2 of 13.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons:
Statues of St. Michael in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Michael the Archangel
Wikipedia: Michael (archangel)
Christian Iconography: Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Nicholas Factor as a Contemplative

Santos studied: Guelavia, TeitipacZaachila1, Zaachila2.

Attributes: Tonsured (except Zaachila 2) and beardless (except Guelavia), standing in a Franciscan habit (Teitipac: blue robe) with a skull (Zaachila 1: at the feet. Others: in the left hand.)

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Nicholas Factor in Mexico
SQPN: Saint Nicholas Factor
TheRealPresence.Org: Blessed Nicholas Factor
Wikipedia: Nicolás Factor
Christian Iconography:
Saint Nicholas Factor

Saint Nicholas Factor as a Flagellant

Santos studied: Díaz Ordaz (no photograph), Yanhuitlán (in Dominic group).

Attributes: Kneeling figure with tonsure, the habit folded down at the hips, exposing the torso. Whipping himself. (The Yanhuitlán composition includes a whip; at Díaz Ordaz the hand is posed as for whipping and there are whip marks on the back.)

External links: See above.

Saint Paul

Santos studied: Etla, Mitla1, Mitla2, Huitzo, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2.

Invariable attributes: A sword in the left or right hand, held point-down. A beard (short and pointy at Etla, long elsewhere). Widow's peak.

Optional attributes: Holding a book or scroll (4 of 6). Halo (4 of 6)..

Optional attributes:

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

Saint Peter of Verona

Santos studied: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan, Etla, Huitzo, Diaz Ordaz, Teitipac, Tlacolula.

Invariable attributes: In the head and/or the chest: an axe, machete, sword, or bloody wound.

Optional attributes: Dominican habit (7 of 9), Palm branch (7 of 9), tonsure (7 of 9), beard (7 of 9), book in hand (6 of 9)

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. Peter of Verona in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Peter of Verona
Wikipedia: Peter of Verona
Christian Iconography: St. Peter Martyr

Saint Peter the Apostle

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Etla, Huitzo, Mitla, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2Yanhuitlán.

Invariable attributes: Beard, balding, holding key(s) in right or left hand (10 of 12 seen, 2 of 12 hands obscured)

Optional attributes: Holding a papal triple cross (6 of 12), halo or peg for halo (7 of 12), holding a book (2 of 12).

Outlier: Teitipac2 was identified as St. Peter by a parishioner whom we have no reason to doubt, but it has none of the above attributes.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of St. Peter in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles
Wikipedia: Saint Peter
Christian Iconography: Saint Peter the Apostle

Saint Philip of Jesus

Santo studied: Only one, in Teitipac.

Attribute: A cross.

External links:
Wikipedia: Philip of Jesus
Wikimedia Commons: Philip of Jesus

Saint Raphael

Santo studied: Only one, in Yanhuitlán.

Attribute: A fish.

Wikimedia Commons: Archangel Raphael
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Raphael
Wikipedia: Raphael (archangel)

Saint Rose of Lima

Santo studied: Only one, in Achiutla.

Attributes: Dominican habit, holding the Christ Child.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Rose of Lima in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Rose of Lima
Wikipedia: Rose of Lima

Saint Sebastian

Santos studied: Achiutla, Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Tilantongo, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán (2 in 1 photo).

Invariable attributes: Youthful man standing before a stylized tree, arrows or arrow wounds in the body, wearing only a loincloth, mustache, right arm held high.

Optional attributes: Small goatee (4 of 7).

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Sebastian in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Sebastian
Wikipedia: Saint Sebastian
Christian Iconography: Saint Sebastian, Martyr

Saint Simon Stock

Santo studied: Only one, in Teitipac.

Attributes: Franciscan habit, left arm holding a Christ Child also in a Franciscan habit and holding a scapular.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Saint Simon Stock
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Simon Stock
Wikipedia: Simon Stock
Christian Iconography: Saint Simon Stock

Saint Stephen

Santo studied: Only one, in Teposcolula.

Attributes: Tonsure, dalmatic, three rocks arranged on a book in the left hand.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Saint Stephen
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Stephen
Wikipedia: Saint Stephen
Christian Iconography: Saint Stephen, Protomartyr

Saint Teresa of Avila

Santo studied: Only one, in Tamazulapan.

Attributes: Carmelite habit, open book, quill pen.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: St. Teresa of Ávila
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Teresa of Avila
Wikipedia: Teresa of Ávila
Christian Iconography:
Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Santo studied: Only one, in Xoxocotlán.

Attributes: Brown and cream Carmelite habit, roses, crucifix, halo.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons Thérèse of Lisieux
Thérèse of Lisieux
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Therese of Lisieux

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Santos studied: Etla, Ocotlán (no photo).

Attributes: Shining sun on breast, open book in hand, pen, rosary, halo, Dominican habit.

External link:
Wikimedia Commons:
Thomas Aquinas
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Thomas Aquinas
Wikipedia: Thomas Aquinas
Christian Iconography: St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

Saint Veronica

Santo studied: Only one, in Teposcolula

Attribute: Displaying the veil with Christ's face.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Saint Veronica
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Veronica
Wikipedia: Saint Veronica
Christian Iconography: Saint Veronica

Trinity as Throne of Mercy

Santos studied: Diaz Ordaz, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán.

Invariable attributes: Crucifix (green cross, usually with gold-colored tips) on a mappa mundi orb surmounted by a dove and held up with both hands by the Father, who is seated and wearing a triple tiara and cope. In Teotitlán the dove is missing.

Optional attributes: A cross atop the tiara (4 of 6 – In Tlacolula the top of the tiara is not visible.)

Outlier: See Yanhuitlán 1 for a discussion of this santo.

External links:
Wikimedia Commons: Throne of Mercy in Mexico.
Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Trinity
Wikipedia: Trinity
Christian Iconography:
The Trinity

Trinity with Son on the Right Hand

Santo studied: Only one, Yanhuitlán 2.

Attributes: Son and Father both seated, Son on the Father's right. Details: see the page for this santo.

External links: see above.

Virgin and Child

Santos studied: Coixtlahuaca, Coixtlahuaca2, Cuilapan, Guelavia, Huitzo, Díaz Ordaz1, Díaz Ordaz2.

Invariable attributes: Mother in a blue mantle holds Child in the left arm.

Optional attributes: Crowns on Mother and/or Child (5 of 7). Besides the blue mantle, the Mother also has a veil (5 of 6: in Diaz Ordaz 2 the top of the head is not visible).

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

Virgin Mary recumbent in a case

Santos studied: Ejutla, Coixtlahuaca, Teposcolula.

Attributes: A statue of the Virgin Mary recumbent in a coffin-like case with one side open to view. The head rests on a pillow, and the hands hold artificial flowers. The mantle is blue at Ejutla and Teposcolula, white at Coixtlahuaca. Eyes are closed.

Virgin Mary: generic

Santos studied: Etla1 (in the Soledad group) Etla2, Guelavia1, Guelavia2, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Zimatlán.

Attributes: Blue mantle (10 of 12) over a white robe (6 of 12), crown (5 of 12), a white (6 of 7) veil (7 of 12). The most common gesture is for the figure to extend both hands toward the viewer (5 of 12).

Possible identification as Mary: Achiutla

Outlier: We identify Teotitlán2 as the Virgin, but the figure has none of the attributes listed above. The bare head and brown hair might suggest St. Mary Magdalene, but the figure's gesture and its being alone in a glass case make it more likely that it represents the Virgin.

External link:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Virgin Mary in Mexico.

For further information, readers may wish to consult our article, "Popular Catholicism," in the Encyclopedia of Mexico (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997).

This study was undertaken in the summer of 1991 with the generous assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation. We also wish to thank the many kind church members who helped us to understand their santos and how they function in the life of their church.

We also wish to thank those who traveled with us and helped us collect data: our friend Bruce Hirst, our sons Christian and Thomas, and Bruce's children, Meg, Sarah, and Michael.

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