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

Saint in Fire

Saint in fire:
The statue is a separate structure from the vessel in which it is standing, although the lower part of the body is not represented. Tongues of fire rise from all around the perimeter of the vessel, each tongue separately carved.

The glass of the case is streaked with wax left when parishioners rub candles across it in the sign of the cross. The candles are then taken home. Other parishioners were observed to bring marigolds from other parts of the church, rub them on the glass, and crumble the blossoms over the table in front of the santo.

One woman who was teaching her children this ritual was asked the name of the saint. She replied that she had forgotten, but that he was a very good saint.

Detail: the saint seen from the leftBasis for Identification: Naked to the waist, tonsured, forked beard, standing in an octagonal vessel filled with flames. See the "Figure in Flames" section of the Ejutla Other Santos page for a discussion of the iconography.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Ocotlán.

Location: West wall of the chapel in the north wall of the narthex, on a rough table (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass. Hair: sculpted hair. Closed mouth.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Next: Moving ahead to the apse, we find a statue of St. Sebastian.

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.