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

Other Santos in the Church


Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Location: North wall of the narthex (see note).

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, GuelaviaNochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case),  Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

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

Saint Francis in Flames

Local Name: San Francisco

Basis for Identification: Saint in flames. Identified for us as St. Francis by members of the Hermandad de la Virgen del Carmen. See the "Figure in Flames" section of the Ejutla Other Santos page for a discussion of the iconography.

Media and construction: Plaster? Repainted.

Size: About 8 inches (20 cm.)

Location: North wall of the nave between the second rib and the apse, to the right of John the Baptist (see note).

Christ with the Four Evangelists

The upper section of the Mitla retablo is a large semicircle into which are set four shelves at 9, 11, 1, and 3 o'clock. These bear respectively the figures of Mark (with a lion), John (an eagle at the right foot), Matthew (with an infant), and Luke (the left foot on an ox). Christ emerges from the backing of the retablo at 12 o'clock. The thick edges of the polychrome garments suggest they are of wood rather than stiffened cloth. The faces have little sheen, but this may be due to dust.

Location: Upper section of the retablo of the main altar.

Media and construction: Polychrome. Eyes: painted.

Size: About 2½ feet (75 cm.)

Previous santo

Introduction to San Pablo Mitla

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.