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 at Santa Ana del Valle

Crucifix 1

Small wood crucifix.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Location: Center of the retablo of the main altar, above the Santa Ana.

Comparable santos and External links: see next entry.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case),  Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Crucifixes in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Archaeology of the Cross and Crucifix
Wikipedia: Crucifix
Christian Iconography: The Crucifixion

Crucifix 2

Sr. Aquino Cruz informed us that this was an eighteenth-century work. The only visible paint is the blood flowing from the wound in the side. An elegant flower adorns the front of the crown of thorns. The figure is held to the cross by red ribbons tied at the hands, feet, and chest. The loincloth and scutum are heavily embroidered in silver thread. The cross is made of dark dowels with brass end caps. The "INRI" plaque is separate, carved in a scroll shape with the letters gold in color. To the left and right in the case are two polychrome shapes, resembling fireplace screens.

The altar which features this crucifix extends beyond the corner into which it has been placed, as if it had been made for another site.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Basis for Identification: On cross, crown of thorns, loincloth with scutum.

Location: In a glass case in the center of the retablo of the altar at the northeast corner of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood with some paint, fabric loincloth and scutum over carved loincloth and scutum.

Size: About 18 inches (45 cm.)

Comparable santos: see Crucifix 1 above.

External Links: see Crucifix 1 above.

Crucifix 3

There is an innocent power in the narrative literalness of the representation. The feet cross at right angles, not in collapse but simply standing one on the other. The blood flows from the wound in the side in a simple triangular pattern which is repeated by bloody triangles at the two shoulders, where the cross would have been carried. The whole stance is one of presentation, of a living Christ who holds his arms out at almost right angles in sacrifice. The head drops humbly on a stiff neck, but the open eyes are directed toward the viewer who approaches. Blood also streams from lesions at the knees, hands and feet.

There is an "INRI" scroll. The crown of thorns is narrow and not done in the basketweave pattern. A sash at the chest holds the body to the cross.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Basis for Identification: On cross, crown of thorns, off-white loincloth and scutum.

Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.

Location: Centered on an altar at the east end of the south wall of the nave, before a mural of the Crucifixion and Resurrection (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric loincloth and scutum. Eyes: glass, with painted lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: About feet (165 cm.)

Comparable santos: see Crucifix 1 above.

External Links: see Crucifix 1 above.



Location: In a niche above the crucifix on the main altar.

Four Eagles

Double-headed, carved.

Location: On either side of the mirrors at the top of the retablo of the main altar.

Previous santo

Introduction to Santa Ana del Valle

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.