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 Teotitlán del Valle:

Christ Child
Christ in a coffin
Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary
Palm Sunday Christ
Resurrection of Christ
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Hyacinth
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Evangelist
St. Joseph (?)
St. Mary Madgalene
St. Peter the Apostle (1)
St. Peter the Apostle (2)
St. Sebastian

Unidentified Franciscan saint
Virgin Mary (1)

Virgin Mary (2)

Other santos not photographed

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi
This statue is different from others of St. Francis. It has a pained, intense look. The eyes are very large, the neck muscular, and the hands broad and strong. The left hand is set palm-outward, as if to hold a child, and the right hand is thrust forward with the thumb and index finger touching.

Though the head is well carved, the skin has a rubbery look and the eyes seem overly dramatic. The feet are large and clumsily carved. The big toe, the second toe, and the middle toe of the right foot are missing, and what appear to be nails have been driven into the tips of the other toes. There are two cinctures. Someone has safety-pinned a small cross with patch of blue material to the habit near the second knot on one of the cinctures. A picture in front of the statue shows the figure holding the halo in the left hand, but at the time of our visit the halo was on the head.

Local Name: San Francisco de Asís.

Basis for Identification: Brown habit, knotted cinctures, halo.

Site: Church of Santa María de la Natividad (Preciosa Sangre de Cristo), Teotitlán del Valle.

Location: Small altar right of the first large altar along the south wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garment. Eyes: glass. Hair: carved. Closed mouth.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Ejutla.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Francis of Assisi in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis of Assisi
Wikipedia: Francis of Assisi
Christian Iconography:
St. Francis of Assisi

Next: Moving to the right, we find another altar with a statue of St. Peter the Apostle.

Previous santo

Introduction to Teotitlán 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.