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)
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
The Crucifixion Group: Crucifix and Resurrected Christ

The crosspieces are green dowels, rounded and grooved at the ends rather than being capped. The extremities are damaged. Some of the detailing has been lost because of the thick re-painting. Like the larger crucifix behind it, the figure has lesions on the shoulders where the cross would have been carried.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Basis for Identification: INRI plaque, sculpted white perizoma.

Other characteristics: No scutum, no crown of thorns.

To the right is a third, brightly colored Misericordia, this one recent and of folk manufacture.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case),  Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2, 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

Resurrected Christ:
The loincloth appears to be polychrome. Wood can be seen where the left thumb, left index finger, and top joint of the left middle finger are missing. The figure is carved of one piece with its pedestal. It is short-limbed and muscular, a healthy youthful body suggested by the curves of the stomach and hips. By contrast, the head is disproportionately large, with a long, thin nose. The hair is carved in long, smooth waves.

Basis for Identification: Holding a floor-length cross in right hand, as in Resurrection art.

Other characteristics: Barefoot and naked except for brief sculpted loincloth and a recently added white cotton sash to cover the upper chest (in other words, dressed as he had been for the crucifixion).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Size: About 2 feet (60 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: AchiutlaCuilapan, Mitla, Teitipac, Teotitlán, TeposcolulaYanhuitlán, Zaachila.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Resurrection of Christ in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Wikipedia: Resurrection of Jesus
Christian Iconography: The Resurrection

Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.

Location: Altar at the east end of the south wall of the nave, to the left of the large central crucifix (see note).

Next santo

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.

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.