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 Mitla:

Calvary group
Christ: Ecce Homo
Christ in a coffin

Christ resurrected
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Assumption (1)
Our Lady of the Assumption (2)
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anthony of Padua
St. John the Baptist
St. Joseph (1)
St. Joseph (2)
St. Paul (1)
St. Paul (2)
St. Peter
Unidentified saint

Other santos not photographed

Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Assumption:
The figure is of an elegant young woman with slender neck, small face and perfect waves of hair. She looks up at the heavens and her hands are held open before her in adoration. It seems that the eyes were carved so as to be best seen from below. The lower lids are unnaturally prominent.

She wears a tunic of gold polychrome under a robe of red and gold feathered arabesques. The robe is edged in a diamond pattern. The mantle is of a blue and gold design of flowers that meet to form great curving x's. The crown is not part of the original compostion. It is very large and decorated with glass jewels and pearls. It perches perilously on the forehead.

The right foot is placed on the head of an almost comically human angel. The angels have chubby cheeks and a pug nose and wear their dark hair in two round braids over the ears. The eyes of at least two of the angels have rolled back in their heads. There is no horned moon visible in the cloud.

Local Name: La Virgen de la Asunción.

Basis for Identification: On clouds born by angels. Full crown, flowing hair.

Site: Church of San Pablo Huitzo.

Location: On a shelf in the north wall of the nave midway between the second rib and the apse (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome. Metal crown, glass and silver jewels, plastic and composition beads. Eyes: glass.

Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla1, Ejutla2Mitla2, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Tlacolula, Tlaxiaco, Tule.

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

Next: To the right of this one, a statue of St. John the Baptist

Previous santo

Introduction to San Pablo Mitla

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. Actual orientations may differ. (The nave is the long central section. At the end of the nave, there is often a half-dome above the area where the altar is placed; this area is the apse.)

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.