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

St. Joseph

St. Joseph:
The face has a nice sheen, though it is less elegant in execution than the Virgin Mary's on the other side of the altar, and the eyes are less sculpted.

Local Name: San José

Basis for Identification: The identification of the statue as San José is suggested by its obvious pairing with the Virgin on the other side of the altar. Both are 3' polychromes, similar in general design. The fingers of the right hand form the gesture that means "OK" in the United States, the thumb forming a circle with the index finger. This circle could have supported a lily stalk, the most common attribute of the saint. Also, the left hand is extended palm-up, suggesting a Christ child may once have rested on it.

Site: Church of San Pablo Huitzo.

Location: Left third of the retablo of the main altar.

Media and construction: Polychrome. Eyes: painted. Hair: carved.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Zimatlán.

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

Next: On the center of the main altar, a statue of St. Paul

Previous santo

Introduction to San Pablo Mitla

Santos Home Page

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.