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 María de la Natividad, Tamazulapan:

Christ in a Coffin
Christ in the Pretorium ("Pensive Christ")

Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
The Immaculate Conception
Our Lady of Sorrows
Palm Sunday Christ
Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. John the Baptist (Child)
St. Mary Magdalene
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Peter the Apostle

St. Teresa of Avila

Unidentified Saint

Other santos not photographed

St. Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene

Local Name: La Santa Magdalena.

Basis for Identification: We identify this as the Magdalene because of the upturned gaze, praying hands, and the uncovered and apparently brown hair.

Other characteristics: Blue mantle – thus possibly this could be a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, who is also represented with praying hands and upturned gaze. But usually in Calvary scenes the mother's head is covered and the Magdalene's head is not. Another bit of negative evidence is the absence of a sword piercing the breast, which is often, though not always, a feature of images of the sorrowing mother.

Site: Church of Santa María de la Natividad, Tamazulapan.

Location: On the left side of the retablo in the second bay of the north wall of the nave (see note).

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (Mary Magdalene): Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teposcolula.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca (Our Lady of Sorrows): Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Ejutla, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula (in Calvary group), Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán (?).

External Links:
Christian Iconography: St. Mary Magdalene, Follower of Christ and Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother

Next: On the right side of this same retablo, a statue of an unidentified saint

Previous santo

Introduction to Santa María de la Natividad

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.