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

St. Joseph

St. Joseph:
The lily stalk is new and has been tied on. The child sits in the crook of the arm, away from the open hand, as if the figure had not originally been meant to hold it. Beneath the robe is a polychrome of a blue background with a red and gold pattern. The statue sounds hollow when knocked. The face is realistic, with a high-bridged nose and heavy-lidded eyes.

Local Name: San José.

Basis for Identification: Lily stalk in right hand, child on left arm, full crown.

Other characteristics: Orange robe.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Ocotlán.

Location: South wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction:
St. Joseph: Polychrome under polyester robe. Eyes: glass eyes. Hair: sculpted hair under wig;
Christ Child: Wood, gesso, paint,
fabric garments. Eyes: glass eyes. Hair: wig.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2Díaz Ordaz, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Zimatlán.

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

Next: Also along the south wall, a Palm Sunday Christ

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.