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 San Juan Teitipac:

Christ carrying the Cross
Christ: Ecce Homo (1)
Christ: Ecce Homo (2)
Christ in a coffin
Christ in the Pretorium ("Pensive Christ") 1
Christ in the Pretorium ("Pensive Christ") 2
Christ resurrected
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Crucifix (3)
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lady of Candlemas
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Assumption
Our Lady of the Rosary (1)
Our Lady of the Rosary (2)
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Benedict
St. Hyacinth
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. John the Baptist (1)

St. John the Baptist (2)
St. John the Baptist, head of
St. Joseph
St. Nicholas Factor
St. Peter Avril
St. Peter the Apostle (1)
St. Peter the Apostle (2)
St. Simon Stock
Unidentified saint

Other santos not photographed

St. Joseph

Saint Joseph:
This St. Joseph is represented as young and vigorous. The right knee is thrust slightly forward and the right foot points outward, while the left foot turns away at a right angle. This stance, together the set of the shoulders and neck, express pride and confidence. The cape is distinguished by exuberant serpentine drapery and the robe by the drama of golden arabesques on a black background. The polychrome of robe and cape is in excellent condition. The child is more stylized and rectilinear; the polychrome robe is more muted--gold on a dull blue. The crowns and the lily are recent. Unusually, the saint's blush is at the bottom of the cheek and at the mouth.

According to Sr. Lopez, this santo is carried through the church and then around the churchyard on St. Joseph's feast day, March 19. There is a mayordomía/asociación attached to the statue.

Local Name: San José Patriarca.

Basis for Identification: Lily stalk, Christ child.

Other characteristics: Full crowns on both figures.

Site: Church of San Juan Teitipac.

Location: South wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome (both Joseph and child). Eyes: glass. Open mouth.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2, Ocotlán, Díaz OrdazTeotitlán, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Joseph in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Joseph
Wikipedia: Saint Joseph
Christian Iconography: Saint Joseph, Father of Jesus

Next: Also along the south wall, a statue of Christ seated in the pretorium

Previous santo

Introduction to San Juan Teitipac

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.