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 Santo Domingo Ocotlán:

Calvary Group: Crucifix and St. John
Calvary Group: Our Lady of Sorrows
Calvary Group: St. Mary Magdalene
Calvary Group: God the Father
Palm Sunday Christ
Saint in fire
St. Joseph
St. Michael
St. Sebastian
Two Dominican saints
Unidentified Franciscan saint
Virgin Mary

Other santos not photographed

Calvary Group: Our Lady of Sorrows

Calvary Group:
This glass case is in the chapel of El Señor de la Sacristía, on the south side of the church. It contains a crucifix in the center, St. John on the right, and the Virgin Mary and St. Mary Magdalene on the left.

Our Lady of Sorrows:
The hands are not clasped in prayer as is usual with this type of statue but are held outward with palms up, as in adoration. The face and hands are fairly realistic, with lines in the palms and natural skin tones. Still, the full oval face with its regular, youthful features, is something of an idealization. Because of these youthful features and the unusual position of the hands, it is conceivable that the statue was not originally intended for a Calvary and that the transfixed heart is a later addition. The patterns of interweaving feathers in the robe and mantle are of the same work as that on the clothing of the St. John on the other side of the crucifix.

The statue is one with its wooden base. There is what appears to be worm damage to the right foot and the hem of the robe. The robe and mantle have been partly repainted, but the original red, gold, and blue polychrome can still be seen.

Local Name: La Madre de los Dolores.

Basis for Identification: Eyes cast heavenward, heart transfixed by a short sword, golden sunburst diadem.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Ocotlán.

Location: Calvary grouping at the south end of the chapel of El Señor de la Sacristía. (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome, metal sword. Eyes: glass. Hair: sculpted hair. Closed mouth.

Size: Life size.

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

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

Next: Seated at the foot of the cross in this Calvary Group, a statue of St. Mary Magdalene

Previous santo

Introduction to Santo Domingo Ocotlán

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.