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 Santa Ana del Valle:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Crucifix (3)
Crucifixion Group
Holy Family
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anne (1)
St. Anne (2)
St. Anne (3)
St. Joseph
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)

Other santos not photographed
Our Lady of Candelaria

Our Lady of Candelaria:
The Virgen de la Candelaria is named for the feast of Candlemas, which is traditionally celebrated on February 2. Candlemas celebrates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation in the Temple.

The use of stiffened and painted cloth in a frame santo is uncommon but an example of another such Virgin is in Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz. As in the other church, the cloth has been painted to resemble polychrome. It is evident that the frame is more complicated in structure than the usual "A" shape. The figure is unnaturally high-chested; from the waist the skirt forms a bell, as it does for the statue in Santo Domingo Díaz Ordaz. The arms appear to be part of the frame rather than separately carved units.

The top joints of the fingers of the right hand are missing. The left hand is clearly not original and has something of a "rubber glove" look. The stiffened cloth represents a separate cape and robe. The pattern is of bold red arabesques on the cape and gold flowers on the skirt of the robe. The bodice is a simple brown with gold vertical stripes.

The child figure seems to have been carved of a single piece of wood and is angled as if it were in a chair. The hair is arranged in complicated waves, yet the face is hardly detailed at all.

The crown has the shape characteristic of a Soledad's crown, and there is a photograph of the Soledad in a frame before the statue, but the child and the open-armed stance are inconsistent with the Soledad. On the wall behind the statue is an inscription noting that renovation of the Virgin was done in "13 de morzo [sic] 1886" as a gift of the mayordomo Guillermo Valeriano. Presidente García-Martinez informed us that at the present time no mayordomía has special charge of this statue.

Local Name: La Candelaria

Basis for Identification: Identified as La Candelaria by the Presidente. Full crown on the adult, the Christ child in the crook of the left arm, a rosary hanging from the child's left arm. At Teitipac and elsewhere in the Latin world the Candelaria and the child carry sceptres. Here the shape of the adult's right hand and the child's left suggest that sceptres may have been a part of original composition.

Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.

Location: On a finely finished and decorated andas on the altar right of the central altar along the south wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Frame construction. Wood, gesso, paint. Hair: On the adult, a wig; on the child, sculpted hair.

Size: About 3½ feet (105 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Teitipac.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of La Virgen de la Candelaria in Mexico
Wikipedia: Virgin of Candelaria
Christian Iconography: La Candelaria

Next: On the same altar, to the right of the Candelaria, is an "Ecce Homo" santo.

Previous santo

Introduction to Santa Ana del Valle

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.